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COVID-19 Update

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FAQs for F-1 International Students

General Questions

    • A. Please refer to MassArt’s COVID-19 page for your academic questions about returning to campus. As you know, we are in new territory with the pandemic and its effects on all aspects of life. New guidance regarding international students and the fall semester was issued on Monday, July 7, 2020. The IEC is in the process of analyzing that guidance and will update students as soon as possible.
    • A. You will continue to get emails to your MassArt email account. You must check this account daily. It is associated with Gmail; if you have concerns about accessing this email account, please forward it to an account you can open from your home country.
    • A. During campus closures due to COVID-19, International Education Center staff are working remotely. They are able to advise via email or phone, and can set up meetings using Google Chat, Google Meet, Zoom, Skype, etc. during normal business hours.

      F-1 International Students: Contact Maggie Shirland, International Student Advisor. Please use the appointment system to schedule a meeting time and Maggie will send you a meeting link.

Academic Questions

    • A. There is no mandate for international students to leave the U.S. You are welcome to stay. Summer classes through Professional and Continuing Education (PCE) are being offered online. Access class offerings (For graduate students whose programs have summer courses, please contact your graduate program coordinator)

      If you choose to stay, please be sure you are staying up-to-date on all of the local restrictions and requirements by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of Boston.
    • A. Please refer to MassArt’s COVID-19 page for your questions about returning to campus. The IEC will advise students on if and/or how their immigration will be affected as soon as we have information to share. This is a top priority, and we will communicate with you as soon as possible.
    • A. Please work directly with the faculty member who teaches your course to explain your challenge.

Immigration Questions

    • A. Please refer to MassArt’s COVID-19 page for your questions about returning to campus. As you know, we are in new territory with the pandemic and its effects on all aspects of life. The IEC will update our advising as soon as we have information to share. This is a top priority, and we will communicate with you as soon as possible.
    • A. Students who continue to make normal progress in their course of study remain eligible for admission to the United States. However, it is impossible for us to predict if and when restrictions on travel will be lifted. If you are currently outside the United States we suggest that you continue to refer to your local embassy’s website through the U.S. Department of State for any updates. Also, the Department of State and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) websites both provide information about current restrictions to the United States.
    • A. If you need a new travel signature or need to request a replacement I-20, please complete this form. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) worked together with the Department of State (DOS) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to accept electronically issued and signed I-20s for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. After your form is completed, the new I-20 will be emailed to your MassArt address. Please note, you still need to print them out when you receive them and sign and date on the bottom of page 1 in blue ink.

On-Campus Work Opportunities Questions

    • A. All F-1 international students are allowed to work on-campus (paid by MassArt) for up to 20 hours per week while courses are in session and more during the break and summer. You need a social security number (SSN) to receive payment and if you do not already have one, Maggie can assist you with applying for one after you are offered on campus work. Find more information about SSNs. Please email Maggie Shirland with further questions.
    • A. On-campus work opportunities should be listed on Handshake, the Career Development website. The IEC does not have access to any other opportunities so please check there regularly. However, please note that it is unlikely there will be many on-campus work opportunities this summer due to the COVID-19 situation.
    • A. You should make it known to your department that you are looking for work and perhaps check in with other departments to ask if they have any opportunities that may not be listed on Handshake. Visit On Campus Employment for more information.
    • A. Graduate Programs have many assistantships, and for the spring semester, all but 5 positions transitioned to the online environment. They are determining the budget for summer and fall graduate and teaching assistantships. For graduate students, a teaching assistantship qualifies for on-campus employment. For more information, please contact Graduate Programs directly at

Off-Campus Work Opportunities Questions

    • A. Working off-campus is available only by applying for authorization for CPT, OPT or Economic Hardship. All opportunities require you to be in F-1 status for at least 2 consecutive semesters before you can apply. There are other criteria for eligibility for each category so please read details of each carefully in this FAQ and consult the links provided.
    • A. No, rules around on- and off-campus employment for F-1 international students have not changed. The only way you can work off-campus is described in this FAQ.
    • A. Career Development staff are happy to answer your questions about internships. Please contact the Internship Manager, Rebekah Wright.
    • A. All F-1 students are eligible for 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) in a paid job that is related to their major field of study after they have been enrolled at MassArt for 2 consecutive semesters. OPT can be used either pre-completion (before you graduate) or post-completion (after you graduate). Read about OPT.
    • A. OPT is a benefit you receive from having completed 2 or more consecutive semesters of full-time coursework in your field of study. It is applied for and adjudicated with the assumption that you will remain present in the United States. If you are returning home now because of the situation with the COVID-19 virus, I recommend you do not apply for OPT.

      However, we will continue to recommend students for OPT who meet the requirements to apply even if you decide to return home. We will help understand the risks of applying from another country or travel to another country while your application is being adjudicated. Please contact us directly for more specific advice regarding your particular situation.

Financial Difficulties and Resources Questions

    • A. MassArt received funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a stimulus package signed into law to provide economic assistance for American workers, families, and small businesses affected by COVID. However, grants from this fund can only go to students who meet certain criteria as outlined by the U.S. government. F-1 international students are not eligible for CARES Act funding; however, through funds raised by MassArt’s Institutional Advancement team from generous supporters of MassArt students, the Re-ACT team distributed grants to F-1 international students. If you have questions about the Re-Act grant, please contact Student Accounts.

      The College is on the lookout for funding opportunities for international students. We already identified one, and communicated with eligible students. If you hear of any scholarships that require institutional support, please bring them to our attention. Email Erica Puccio or Maggie Shirland.
    • A. If you have immediate needs (such as lack of food, medical care, housing, etc) that are not being met due to your financial situation, it is important for you to share this with a trusted MassArt staff member so we can try to help arrange emergency support. The IEC does not have control over funding and scholarships at MassArt, but please share any difficulties so we can notify appropriate staff. Please email Maggie Shirland. You can also consider visiting the Resources page of MassArt's COVID-19 Updates Page which provides a detailed list of resources for a variety of issues.
    • A. An F-1 student may apply for special economic hardship permission for off-campus employment if s/he is able to provide evidence of severe economic need caused by unforeseen and extenuating circumstances beyond the student’s control. We will be posting the process for how to apply on our website shortly but there are several important factors you should know.

      • There is a cost of $410 to apply (waivers may be available but may make an approval less likely and slows down the process)
      • Approval is dependent on the discretion of the immigration official adjudicating the application and is based on the strength of the application
      • Approval is not guaranteed
      • It takes 3-5 months to receive an answer and to be able to work if approved
      • There is an in depth application process (similar to applying for OPT) which is posted on our website.
      • If you have further questions or are interested in applying for economic hardship, please contact Maggie Shirland.
    • A. Stimulus Checks were sent based on how you filed your U.S. taxes in 2018 or 2019. The Colleges of the Fenway Global Education Opportunities (GEO) Center is the COF’s conduit for tax information. Please visit the GEO Center website for answers to questions regarding stimulus checks and other tax questions.
    • A. Financial Aid Self Service is a new secure portal designed to help eligible MassArt students navigate the financial aid process. At MassArt, the financial aid process begins with filing the FAFSA. Since F-1 international students are not eligible to file the FAFSA, you do not need to use this new system. For more information, contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance.
    • A. Once you receive a bill from MassArt, it is due on the deadline indicated on your statement. This is not a flexible date; you will be dropped from the classes you have registered for if you don’t pay by the deadline. It is very important that you have a plan to pay your bill from your home country, so you are prepared for a timely payment. If you have questions about billing, please contact Student Accounts.

Housing and Student Support Questions

    • A. There are several ways we hope you feel comfortable reaching out.

      • Please contact Justice, Equity and Transformation.
      • To report a specific incident of bias or harassment, please call Public Safety at 617.879.7810 or email at Public Safety is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You may also report online at
      • Please contact the Counseling and Wellness Center.
      • If you want to start with IEC staff, we are always willing to help support you or connect you with the appropriate person at MassArt. Contact Erica Puccio or Maggie Shirland.
    • A. JET, Academic Affairs, Counseling, and other offices on campus are looking into possible trainings for the MassArt community.