Fletcher Connect

Immigration

There are two main student visa categories used by students at Fletcher. Most students are in F-1 student visa status.

Certain immigration procedures are completed in the same way, regardless of whether a student is in F-1 or J-1 student status. These procedures include:

Immigration Updates

READ THE EMAIL ON YOUR TUFTS EMAIL ACCOUNT. All important immigration notices will be sent to your Tufts email account by the International Student Advisor. It is your responsibility to ensure that your Tufts email account is in order and that you read it on a regular basis. Our office WILL NOT be using a non-Tufts email address as the primary email address.

Address Changes

It is required for all international students with I-20 or DS-2019 to update a new residential address in the United States to SEVIS within 10 business days from the moving date. 

Update your new address in your SIS account as soon as you moved into a new location.  Reiko Morris, International Student Advisor, then directly report the address to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) via SEVIS database. 

I-94 Record Collection is Now Automated

In Spring 2013, the U.S. Customs Border Protection (CBP) has automated Form I-94 (U.S. Arrival/Departure  Record) at air and sea port of entry. The paper form will no longer be provided to a traveler upon arrival, except in limited circumstances.  The traveler will be provided with a CBP admission stamp on their travel document (such as passport.)

I-94 record is still a requirement for applying for a Social Security Number, State driver's license, as well as Optional Practical Training (OPT).  In order to obtain your most recent I-94 record, you need to go to CBP's I-94 record web page and print it out.  Have your passport handy as you need to enter your passport ID number as well as its expiration date. 

The United States and China Agree to Extending Visas for Short-term Business Travelers, Tourists, and Students

(from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing's web site)

On November 12, United States Secretary of State John Kerry personally delivered the first 10-year validity tourism/business visas and the first 5-year validity student visas to 11 visa applicants at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.  This event marked the start of a new era in cooperation and people-to-people exchanges between America and China, because people who wish to travel often between the two countries can now do so without having to apply for a new visa every year. 

Businesses in both countries, including the tourism industry, will benefit from increased travel, investment, and business development opportunities between the two countries.  Longer visa validity will allow students and exchange visitors to more easily return to their home countries during school and work holidays. 

Please also refer the U.S. Department of State's Frequently Asked Questions list.

(Updated on 11/20/2014)
Traveling Outside the US

When you travel outside of the U.S., make sure you do the following:

  • Have your immigration document signed by the International Student Advisor if the most recent signature on your document is more than 6 months old.
  • Check your F-1 or J-1 visa to be sure it is valid past the date you intend to return to the US.
  • Be sure you have a passport that is valid at least 6 months in to the future.

If you are traveling outside of the U.S. and your visa has expired

You will need a new visa. It is advised that you obtain your new visa in your home country. You should also contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country to determine the exact procedure for you to obtain your new student visa. Remember to do the following in order to renew your F-1 or J-1 visa:

  • Have your immigration document signed by the International Student Advisor if the most recent signature on your document is more than 6 months old.
  • Bring original, current financial documents with you
  • Be sure your passport is valid at least 6 months in to the future.

Traveling to Canada, Mexico or Contiguous Territories from the U.S.

If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico or territories contiguous to the U.S. for less than 30 days you do not need a new F-1 or J-1 visa. You do need to remember to have your immigration document signed (if the signature is more than 6 months old) and you should keep your I-94 card, if possible, when exiting the U.S. You must also bring your current passport when you travel. This applies only if you DO NOT intend to apply for a new visa while in Canada, Mexico or territories contiguous to the U.S.

Obtaining a Signature on Your Immigration Document for Travel Purposes
If you travel outside of the U.S., please remember to have your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 (if sponsored by Fletcher) signed by the International Student Advisor before you travel. If your DS-2019 was issued by your sponsor (i.e. Fulbright, Asia Foundation, etc. you must have your document signed by them).

A signature is valid for 6 months (even though your immigration document may say that a signature is valid for one year).

The signature confirms that you are maintaining your legal status in the U.S.


Bringing Your Spouse and/or Children to the US

In much the same way you obtained your F-1 or J-1 visa by documenting that you were accepted to Fletcher and you had sufficient funds to study and live here, your spouse will have to do the same.

If you wish to bring your spouse to the United States, you need to provide the International Student Advisor with the following information:

  • Current Bank Statement (within 2 months) with your full name on it, indicating you have at least $4,000.00 U.S. to sponsor your spouse.
  • Letter of Sponsorship, dated and signed, attesting to your relationship to your spouse and your willingness to provide him/her at least $4,000.00 for living expenses.
  • Letter that lists your spouse’s or children’s:
    • First name (clearly identified)
    • Last name (clearly identified)
    • Date of birth
    • Place of birth
    • Relationship to you
    • Approximate arrival date in the U.S.

    The same documentation is required if you intend to bring your children to the U.S. For each child who comes to the U.S., you must show an additional $3,000.00 U.S.

    You are not required to be the sponsor. But, whoever is the sponsor must show the above listed financial documents.

    Processing time to issue your spouse’s and/or children’s immigration documents is approximately 2 to 3 weeks.

    Inviting a Family Member to Visit You in the US

    If a parent or sibling will visit you in the U.S. and you are concerned about his or her ability to obtain a B-1/B-2 visitor visa, you may request a “Family Invite Letter” from the International Student Advisor.

    You will need see the International Student Advisor and provide the following information:

    • Persons name as it appears on their passport
    • Country of citizenship
    • Reason for visit

    Once the letter has been processed, the student will be notified by email. 

    Obtaining an Extension of Stay

    Every academic program at Fletcher is expected to be completed in a certain amount of years. This duration of time is indicated in Section 5 of your Form I-20 and in Section 3 on your Form DS-2019.

    Since students should normally be making good progress towards obtaining their degree, extensions are not common. However, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recognizes that there may be unusual circumstances in a student’s academic career that require him or her to apply for an extension of stay. If you need an extension of stay, you must meet with the International Student Advisor to discuss your situation. Once you have provided all required documents, a new immigration form will be issued within 1 to 2 weeks.

    Remember to initiate this process before your immigration document expires.

    Please note that this procedure may be initiated no earlier than 60 days before the expiration date on the Form I-20 (Section 5) or Form DS-2019 (Section 3) and no later than the expiration date on the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019.

    You must consult with the International Student Advisor regarding the necessary documentation to process an extension.

    Immigration Attorneys in the Boston Area

    Richard M. Costa & Associates
    18 Tremont Street, Suite 930
    Boston, MA 02108
    Phone: (617) 742-4444
    Fax: (617) 742-0805
    Richard@rcosta.com

    Russell Swapp
    Seyforth Shaw Law Offices
    World Trade Center East
    Two Seaport Lane, Suite 300
    Boston, MA 02210-2028
    Phone: (617)946-4905
    Fax: (617)946-4801

    Dyann DelVecchio
    Seyforth Shaw Law Offices
    World Trade Center East
    Two Seaport Lane, Suite 300
    Boston, MA 02210-2028
    Phone: (617)946-4800
    Fax: (617)946-4801
    ddelvecchio@seyforth.com

    Alan M. Pampanin
    2343 Massachusetts Avenue
    Cambridge, Massachusetts 02140
    Phone: (617) 876-2020
    Fax: (617) 876-0082
    apampanin@pampaninlaw.com

    Elizabeth Goss, Esq.
    Goss Immigration
    Boston Office
    177 Milk Street, Suite 605
    Boston, MA  02109
    Phone: 617-357-9300
    liz@gossimmigration.com

    Susan Cohen
    Mintz, Levin, Cohen, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo, P.C.
    1 Financial Center
    Boston, MA 02111
    Phone: (617) 542-6000
    Fax: (617) 542-2241
    scohen@mintz.com

    Richard L. Iandoli
    Iandoli & Associates, P.C.
    One Appleton Street
    Suite 200
    Boston, MA 02116
    Phone: (617) 482-1010
    Fax: (617) 423-9070
    iandoli@iandoli.com 

    Information on the DV Lottery

    Important information on the Department of State's DV Lottery

    Before applying for the DV Lottery, you should become familiar with the process. In applying for the DV Lottery, you are making your intent to immigrate to the United States known to the U.S. Department of State. You will need to disclose this information the next time you apply for a visa at the U.S. Embassy. If this is not comfortable for you, you should discuss the matter with an immigration attorney.

    Click here for information for DV - http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/immigrate/diversity-visa/entry.html.html

    Summary Sheet of F-1 and J-1 Visa Categories
    F-1 VISA

    DESCRIPTION:

    F-1 student is a nonimmigrant pursuing a “full course of study” in pursuit of a specific educational or professional objective at an academic institution that has been designated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Department of Homeland Security (DHS). After completion of the program, the F-1 student is expected by the U. S. government to return to his/her residence abroad.

    REQUIRED FORMS:

    School:

    • Certification of Funds form – mailed to student upon admission to Fletcher.

    Consulate:

    • Form SEVIS I-20.
    • Evidence of financial ability to meet expenses.
    • Evidence of English ability sufficient for course of study.
    • Evidence of intent to depart the U.S. after completion of studies.
    • Passport valid for at least 6 months after arrival in U.S. – be aware that the Consulate may require a passport valid for entire program of study depending on country issuing the passport.
    • Form DS-156 “Nonimmigrant Visa Application”.
    • Form DS-157 “Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application” Required of all male nonimmigrant visa applicants between the ages of 16 and 45. Consular officers reserve the right to require a DS-157 from any applicant.
    • Form I901, “Fee Remittance for Certain F, J & M Nonimmigrants” and receipt showing payment of the above fee. Payment must be made and student must have receipt before U.S. Embassy/Consulate appointment.
    • Photograph for each visa applicant including dependents.
    • Consular Fee. (approx. $100.00)

    Note: You will be required to make an appointment at the Consulate in order to apply for your visa

    EMPLOYMENT IN F-1 STATUS
    • Students must have a Social Security Number in order to work either on-campus or off-campus. Applications and recommendation letters may be obtained from Carol Murphy, International Student Advisor. You must show proof that you have employment before you apply for a Social Security Number or your application will be denied.
    • Student may work on-campus for no more than 20 hours per week while school is in session and 40 hours during breaks. No application to DHS is needed for on-campus work.
    • Eligible for a total amount 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) after being in F-1 status for one academic year. This is employment during or after completion of studies and is off-campus. Typically students use approximately 2-3 months of practical training for a summer internship and the remainder of 9-10 months upon graduation. Application must be made to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) through the International Student Advisor at Fletcher, Carol Murphy. USCIS approves application and issues an Employment Authorization Card (EAD). Approval can take 8-10 weeks from submission of the application. Application must be made before graduation/completion of program.
     
    J-1 VISA
    DESCRIPTION:

    College and university students are eligible for the Exchange Visitor Program only if any time during their college studies in the U.S. they meet one of the following four criteria:

    • They or their program are financed directly or indirectly by the U.S. government, the student’s home government, or an international organization of which the United States is a member by treaty or statute;
    • The exchange program is carried out pursuant to an agreement between the U.S. Government and a foreign government;
    • The exchange program is carried out pursuant to a written agreement between:
      • An American and foreign educational institution
      • An American educational institution and a foreign government
      • A U.S. state or local government and a foreign government; or,
      • The exchange visitor student is supported substantially by funding from any source other than personal or family funds.
    REQUIRED FORMS:

    School or Sponsor:

    • Certification of Funding (usually provided by program sponsor).

    Consulate:

    • Form DS-2019, executed by the Responsible Officer (RO) of the sponsoring organization and completed and signed by the exchange visitor.
    • Evidence of financial ability to meet expenses.
    • Evidence of English ability sufficient for exchange program.
    • Evidence of residence abroad and intent to depart the U.S. after completion of the program.
    • Passport valid for at least 6 month after arrival in U.S. – be aware the consulate may require a passport valid for entire program of study depending on country issuing passport.
    • Form DS-156 “Nonimmigrant Visa Application”.
    • Form DS-157 “Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application” required of all male nonimmigrant visa applicants between the ages of 16 and 45. Consular officers reserve the right to require a DS-157 from any applicant.
    • Form I901, “Fee Remittance for Certain F, J & M Nonimmigrants” and receipt showing payment of the above fee. Payment must be made and student must have receipt before U.S. Embassy/Consulate appointment.
    • Photographs for each visa applicant including dependents.
    • Consular Fee. (approx. $100.00)

    Note: You will be required to make an appointment at the Consulate in order to apply for your visa.

    EMPLOYMENT IN J-1 STATUS
    • Students must have a Social Security Number in order to work either on-campus or off-campus. Applications and recommendation letters may be obtained from Reiko Morris, International Student Advisor. You must show proof that you have employment before you apply for a Social Security Number or your application will be denied.
    • Students are eligible for on-campus employment authorization. Limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session and 40 hours during breaks. Employment must be authorized in advance and in writing by the Responsible Officer of the program that issued the DS-2019.
    • May apply for Academic Training any time during the course of study if:
      • student is in good academic standing
      • proposed employment is related to field of study, and
      • health insurance coverage is maintained in the U.S. for student and any dependents for duration of employment.
      • Eligible for a maximum of 18 months academic training. Vacation period employment counts towards 18 months.
      • Must have a job offer in writing and letter of recommendation from academic advisor.
      • Must apply before graduation/completion of program.