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Essential Information

Most international students at Fisher College are admitted to the United States in F-1 student status. If you will be studying at Fisher in any other status, please note that the below does not apply to you.

How to Obtain an F-1 Visa

In order to obtain an F-1 visa, you will need to be accepted to Fisher College and issued a Fisher College Form I-20. To get a more detailed breakdown of tips on obtaining an F1 visa, please contact Mackenzie Cushman at and a guide will be emailed to you.

Terms and Definitions

Form I-20 and F1 Visa

Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Student Status: This document confirms that you have been accepted to the College and can apply for an F-1 visa. The I-20 is issued by the Admissions Office prior to your entry into the U.S. and is used to apply for an F-1 visa at the U.S. Consulate/Embassy. This document is presented to the Immigration Officer at the port of entry along with your acceptance letter when you arrive in the U.S. Your I-20 will be signed by one of the Designated School Officials (DSO) when it is issued and must be endorsed at least once per year for travel. The signature must be valid through the date that you will arrive back in the U.S. F-1 students must carry the original I-20 whenever they leave the U.S.

F-1 VISA: This document is a multicolored stamp placed in your passport at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy. The visa is the "key" necessary for entering the U.S. It indicates your name, classification, the number of times you may enter the U.S. on this visa (in most cases, multiple entries - designated as M - are allowed), and the visa's expiration date. The expiration date on the visa reflects the last date that you are permitted to enter (or re-enter) the U.S. as an International Student. If the date has already passed, you will need to reapply for an F-1 student visa to be allowed back into the U.S.

Form 1-94 Arrival/Departure Record

Form 1-94 Arrival/Departure Record: This document is a small stamp often opposite the visa page in your passport that is placed there upon arrival in the U.S. The I-94 indicates your arrival date, the visa classification, and the length of authorized stay in the U.S. For F-1 students, the length of stay is often noted as D/S which stands for "Duration of Status." D/S allows a student to stay in the U.S. as long as he or she remains in status as an F-1 student.


Status: This is the permission to be in the U.S. for a specific purpose for a period of time. F-1 student status is dependent on students’ engaging in full-time study. At Fisher College, undergraduate students must be enrolled in 12 credits to engage in full-time study. Full-time study also takes into consideration attendance. Students with chronic attendance issues will be considered out of status. If you have any questions about your status, please reach out to one of the DSOs.

USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) 

USCIS: The government agency responsible for the admission, control and status of all aliens in the United States. The regulations of the USCIS are contained in Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT: A benefit of maintaining F-1 status. Its purpose is to allow the student to gain practical experience directly related to the student's field of study. Granted by USCIS, OPT is granted based on documents submitted by applicant and the school's recommendation. Total length is 12 months, not extendable and may be used during school breaks, for part-time work while school is in session or after graduation provided the eligibility criteria are met and authorization is received. Work must be directly related to the student's area of study.

Passport and I-20 FAQ

My passport has expired. What should I do?

Contact your embassy or consulate for instructions on applying for passport renewal. Not all countries have a consular office in Boston. You may need to contact a consulate in New York or in other parts of the U.S., or an embassy in Washington D.C. The renewal procedure may take a few weeks or a few months, depending on the policies of your government. Also your consular office may require you to provide information such as proof of your enrollment at Fisher.

How can I get a replacement for my I-20?

You can request a replacement at CIPS. You will be asked to complete a Lost/Stolen I-20 Form. It takes up to 5 business days to process this. If you are outside the country, be prepared to pay for the cost of shipping.

Can I renew my visa without leaving the United States?

No. Visas can only be obtained and renewed outside the U.S. Visas usually must be renewed in the student's home country. Visa renewal applications filed in a "third country" (outside of your country of permanent residence) are not recommended.

If I decide to change my major, do I need a new I-20?

Yes. Your documents should always reflect the program in which you are currently enrolled. Hence, you should obtain a  new form from CIPS every time you change majors or academic levels.

What should I do if my visa stamp has already expired? Can I travel and re-enter as a tourist?

If you are currently staying in the U.S. to study full-time, DO NOT re-enter on the B-1/B-2 Visitor visa or Visa Waiver program as that will invalidate your F-1 student status. If you need to travel and your visa has already expired, refer to the section on applying for a visa.

When can I apply for Optional Practical Training?

You may apply as early as 90 days before the completion date on your I-20. Your application may be received by USCIS up to 60 days after the completion date on your I-20. If it is not received during this time period, it will be rejected immediately.

How long does it take to process Optional Practical Training?

CIPS has found that it takes anywhere from 60 days to 120 days to process OPT requests at USCIS. Please plan accordingly.

Can I work on campus?

Yes, you may, if you are in valid F-1 status and have the proper approval/authorization from CIPS. On campus employment is incidental to your status, but you cannot work more than 20 hours during the academic year. You may work more than 20 hours during authorized vacation periods.

Contact Us

Nancy Pithis
Dean of International Academic Operations and Curriculum Development, DSO
T: 617-236-8814
Robert Melargani 
Vice President of Enrollment Management, PDSO
Chief Admissions Officer
T: 617-670-4401 
Mackenzie Cusheman
Assistant Director of International Enrollment, DSO
T: 617-670-4538
Xu (Joy) Liu 
Educational Counselor for Chinese Students  
WeChat: FisherCollege
T: 617-670-4506