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FAQs for F-1 International Students

ACADEMIC PLANNING AND IMMIGRATION GUIDANCE FOR FALL 2021 SEMESTER

*Please note: the answers to the questions below can change at any time, without notice, if new guidance is issued regarding F-1 international students. Students must read all emails received from MassArt for the most current information.


    • A. On April 26, 2021, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed that it has not changed or updated the policy issued in March 2020. Also on April 26, ICE issued an updated Frequently Asked Questions for SEVP Stakeholders for universities to follow with respect to international students for the 2021-22 academic year. The International Education Center will communicate with F-1 international students if changes are made to the policy and/or the FAQ.

      For more information on how the interim guidance affects new and current F-1 international students based on MassArt’s Fall 2021 course delivery, please see the questions below.

      When MassArt returns to normal operations, all F-1 international students must return to campus to maintain active immigration status.


Continuing Students
    • A. Please contact Maggie Shirland, International Student Advisor. Be prepared to explain your current situation, including location, travel plans, plans for fall course enrollment, housing, etc. so she can best advise you based on your individual needs. Please see the questions below for general information.
    • A. You must enroll for a full-time course load for Fall 2021. In most programs, students will take a course load that includes traditional “face to face” and/or hybrid classes, requiring in-person attendance. Therefore, most MassArt students will attend classes in Boston, and international students should plan on entering the U.S. for the fall semester.

      If you were studying in your home country in the Spring 2021 semester you must ensure your F-1 visa stamp (inside your passport) has a date that is still valid for entry to the United States and you must contact Maggie Shirland to request a new I-20 with appropriate notations about your enrollment in in-person coursework.

      While in-person course work will be part of most students’ class schedules, there may be limited exceptions in extenuating circumstances. If you have concerns about your ability to take in person classes, please contact Maggie Shirland to discuss.

    • With approximately 80% of Fall 2021 studio courses being offered with in-person instruction, most students will have a schedule that requires them to be on-campus. However, we recognize that extenuating circumstances may arise, including immigration constraints. We encourage you to make every effort to attend MassArt in person in the fall; if that is impossible due to visa or other immigration issues, please speak with your faculty advisor, Department Chair, or Program Coordinator regarding the option to take a fully remote course load and please contact Maggie Shirland.

      Please note that MassArt faculty are not required to allow students to take hybrid courses remotely. It is your responsibility to enroll in fully remote courses if you are unable to come to Boston.

    • A. According to the current guidance, students pursuing studies in the United States for the Fall 2021 semester will be able to continue studying from within the United States if MassArt changes to remote learning. You would also be able to return home to complete the semester remotely, as long as you can travel there safely. As stated in the question/answer on guidance above, should this policy be updated, we will communicate with students about the changes. Please check your MassArt email daily.
    • A. You must contact Maggie Shirland (if you have not already done so). You will not be able to continue in ”active” F-1 status while studying part-time.You must also contact your Department Chair to ensure you are meeting your major enrollment requirements.

New Students
    • A. Please contact Stella Cho, Admissions Officer. Be prepared to explain your current situation, including location, travel plans, plans for fall course enrollment, housing, etc. so she can best advise you based on your individual needs. Please see the questions below for general information.
    • A. Some classes will be remote, others will be hybrid, and some will be traditional face to face. This will be indicated by an "R", “MA” (face to face), or “H", respectively, on your schedule. Schedules are built/assigned for all incoming students by MassArt staff.

      For incoming (new) international students with further questions about fall enrollment, please contact Stella Cho, Admissions Officer, to work through the details and requirements.

    • A: Please contact Stella Cho, Admissions Officer. Once you complete the International Checklist and pay the tuition deposit, she will verify all of your documents. It will take about 2 weeks for you to receive a digital copy of your I-20. You should review your country’s specific requirements on the U.S consulate’s website because every consulate and embassy has different requirements and their own guidelines. Please make sure that you print out the digital I-20 and sign on the bottom of Page 1 with blue ink instead of digital signature and make sure to bring this hardcopy to the interview with you along with your fall schedule that shows at least 12 credits of full-time class enrollment including at least 1 hybrid course.

      Many U.S. consulates generally recommend that visa appointments be made no more than 120 days in advance of the intended program start date. But if the available visa appointment in your country is more than 120 days prior to your program start date, you must contact your local U.S. consulate regarding the appointment timeline. Some countries currently provide an emergency visa appointment only. Please note that an expedited visa service is limited only to students who are within 60 days of their program start date. You must let Stella Cho know your visa appointment date once it is made and your visa result.

      Please visit MassArt’s webpage about How To Obtain an F-1 Visa and the NAFSA webpage about visa interview tips. The U.S. Department of State has posted a helpful website on visa appointment wait times at U.S. Consulates and Embassies around the globe.

    • A. The Department of State (DOS) announced a temporary expansion of statutory and regulatory provisions that allow consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for individuals applying to renew a visa in the same nonimmigrant visa classification and category if not more than 48 months have passed since the prior visa expired. The expansion of this authority lasts until December 31, 2021.

      If you are applying for a visa in the same category as the previous visa, you may be eligible to apply for a visa without appearing in person for an interview. To qualify for the visa renewal interview waiver, you must meet the certain conditions and requirements. And you must contact your local US consulate or embassy regarding your eligibility since every US consulate or embassy has their own rules and instructions.

      Please visit the DOS website and the NAFSA webpage about the expansion of interview waiver eligibility.


Travel In and Out of the US
    • A. For information on federal and state guidelines for travel during the pandemic, as well as up-to-date information on vaccinations, please visit the following websites. You should know that these sites are likely to be updated on a regular basis, so please continue to check on the protocols for travel up until your date of departure to the United States:



      We ask that you take into account the possibility of travel delay and restrictions, quarantines or prolonged self-isolation requirements when entering or transiting through other cities/countries based on their local guidelines for COVID-19.

    • A. Yes. Please check with your specific Embassy or Consulate for their schedule of resuming visa issuance.

      However, some proclamations from the White House restricting certain travelers from entering the United States due to COVID-19 remain intact. It is important that you confirm your ability to enter the United States before traveling.

    • 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.

Work Eligibility
    • 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 contact Maggie Shirland with further questions.
    • 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. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a short term (normally 1 summer or 1 semester) internship opportunity that is a required part of your MassArt coursework. Normally you are registered for a corresponding 3 credit internship course through Career Development. You are allowed to be paid for work completed using CPT. The July 24th Clarifying Questions document does not address CPT. Please contact Maggie Shirland for more information about CPT if you are interested in applying.
    • 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 or more consecutive semesters of full-time coursework. OPT can be used either pre-completion (before you graduate) or post-completion (after you graduate). Read about OPT.

      OPT is applied for and adjudicated with the assumption that you will are and will remain physically present in the United States. If you returned to your home country because of the situation with the COVID-19 virus, we 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 also help you understand the risks of applying from another country or of travel to another country while your application is being adjudicated. Please contact Maggie Shirland for more specific advice regarding your particular situation.