Conservatory: International Students
Visa Information for Study at Longy
International students must hold a valid F-1 visa (or a J-1 visa for those students sponsored by an outside organization such as Fulbright). An F-1 student is a nonimmigrant who is pursuing a “full course of study” in order to achieve a specific educational or professional objective at an academic institution in the United States. Once the educational or professional objective has been attained, the F-1 student is expected by the U.S. government to return to his or her residence abroad. In addition to F-1 and J-1 visa holders, it is possible for an artist already in the U.S. on an O-1 visa to pursue a course of study at Longy.
You must receive a Form I-20 from Longy in order to apply for the F-1 visa. Longy will issue the Form I-20 only after the following documents have been received, reviewed, and accepted:
- The completed application for admission including a TOEFL score report or waiver.
- A clear photocopy of the student’s passport from the home country. If a student has obtained a visa from another school, a clear photocopy of the student’s previous visa is also required.
- Certified evidence of financial support and a letter of sponsorship where applicable. This should include official, original records of personal or family funds. These records can also include the funds of outside agencies or sponsors. All international students must submit proof of financial support that they, or their sponsors, can cover the cost of attendance for one full year at Longy.
Determining your Cost of Attendance
In order to receive the Form I-20, international students must provide documents of financial support for the following:
Tuition (varies by degree program), Tuition Rates
+ $550 Fees (Student Services Fee, Technology Fee, Library Fee, Facilities Fee)
+ $1,500 Health Insurance (estimated)
+ $9,900 Housing (estimated)
+ $2,428 Books, music, travel, miscellaneous (estimated)
- Longy Scholarship/Assistantship
= Your total cost of attendance
Applying for the F-1 Visa
In most cases, when an international student enrolls at Longy, a data record is created for him or her in SEVIS, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, which is maintained by the U.S. government. Longy is required to update a student’s SEVIS record whenever the student changes address, program of study, and so on.
International Students Currently in the U.S.
Students currently in the U.S. in valid F-1 status do not have to pay the SEVIS fee. The fee is not required from students transferring to a new school or changing to another degree program or level within five months of completing a previous F-1 program. The student’s SEVIS record will be transferred to Longy from the student’s previous school after submitting a completed SEVIS Transfer Form. Once the SEVIS record has been transferred, Longy will issue the student a new I-20.
International Students outside the U.S
Upon receiving the completed Form I-20 from Longy, students outside the U.S. must:
- Pay the SEVIS Fee. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires proof of payment of the SEVIS fee before issuing a visa. Students should pay the fee as soon as they receive the Form I-20 to allow sufficient time for DHS to update the SEVIS record. (F-2 dependents are not required to pay the SEVIS fee.) To pay the SEVIS I-901 fee processing refer to https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/
- Make an appointment at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country in order to apply for the F-1 visa. It is recommended that appointments be made well in advance of traveling to the U.S. (approximately 6-8 weeks). Students should bring all documents relevant to their admission to Longy, including:
-Valid passport (must be valid at least six months beyond the date you intend to remain in the U.S)
-Completed and signed Form I-20
-Certified evidence of financial support (including the same financial documents used by Longy to complete the Form I-20)
-Longy acceptance letter (and scholarship award letter where applicable)
-Proof of English proficiency, such as a TOEFL report
-Travel documents as specified by the local U.S. Embassy
These documents should be retained and may need to be presented when traveling to the U.S. In some cases a person applying for an F-1 visa may be asked to provide evidence of intent to depart the U.S. after completion of studies. All applicants age 16 and over from countries designated by the U.S. as state sponsors of terrorism must follow additional procedures when applying for an F-1 visa. More information about visas can be obtained at this website: http://travel.state.gov/visa/visa_1750.html
Once a visa application and supporting materials are reviewed and approved, the student will be issued an F-1 visa. Visas can only be obtained outside the United States at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The visa allows a student to enter the U.S. when accompanied by the Form I-20 (Form DS-2019 for J-1 students). The visa is only valid for the purpose for which it was issued (to attend a specific school and specific program of study). The expiration date on the visa does not determine how long a student may stay in the U.S. Instead, the completion date printed on the Form I-20 (Form DS-2019 for J-1 students) is the determining date.
Unlike the Form I-20 (Form DS-2019 for J-1 students), visas may expire while a student is in the U.S. However, before re-entering the U.S. after any international travel, the visa must be renewed.
Before traveling to a country other than a student’s home country, the student must check with the Embassy or Consulate of that country to determine whether a visa will be necessary to enter that country.
Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are exempt from the requirement to possess a visa to enter the U.S.; however, they are still required to pay the SEVIS fee before starting their program. Proof of SEVIS fee payment for these individuals will be verified at the U.S. port of entry before they are admitted to the United States in F-1 status.
Five-Month Absence Policy
The SEVIS fee must be paid by students who have studied in the U.S. in F-1 status in the past but have departed the U.S. for longer than a five-month period or changed to another immigration status, whether or not a new F-1 visa is needed.
Maintaining F-1 Status
It is extremely important for a nonimmigrant to maintain his or her status while in the United States. Failure to maintain the terms and conditions of nonimmigrant status is grounds for removal from the United States (deportation).
- Students must report to a Designated School Official (DSO) to have his or her SEVIS record registered in SEVIS no later than the second week of the semester. The DSO must register the student in SEVIS no later than 30 days after the program start date (for new students in Initial SEVIS status), and for each semester thereafter, no later than 30 days after the next session start date (for continuing students).
- Students must report a change of name or address to a DSO within 10 days of the change. The school will update the student’s record in SEVIS.
- Students must pursue a "full course of study" at the school listed on the Form I-20 during every academic session or semester except during official school breaks, or unless approved under a specific exception, in advance, by a DSO.
- Students must make normal progress towards completing the course of study and finish studies before the program completion date on the Form I-20.
- If poor academic performance or other academic problems result in academic suspension or a mandatory reduction in course load, immigration status will be impacted. Suspension will prevent the student from enrolling. Mandatory reduction in course load following poor academic performance will also be viewed as a failure to pursue a full course of study, unless it can be authorized under one of the reduced course load provisions.
- Academic probation and suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extension. A student placed on academic probation who is not able to complete his or her program by the program completion date may not be eligible for an extension of stay, unless other "compelling academic or medical reasons" exist to support the extension request.
- Students must abide by the rules requiring disclosure of information and prohibition on criminal activity.
- Students must abide by any special requirements, such as Special Registration requirements.
- Students must not work off-campus, unless specifically authorized by Academic Affairs for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) after one year or Optional Practical Training (OPT) upon graduation.
- Students must abide by the aggregate unemployment rules while on post-completion OPT.
F-1 Duration of Status and Grace Periods
An F-1 student will normally be admitted to the United States for "duration of status," noted as "D/S" on both Form I-94 and the student's Form I-20.
- An F-1 student may be admitted for a period up to 30 days before the start of the course of study. An F-1 student who has completed a course of study will be allowed an additional 60-day period to prepare for departure from the United States or prepare for transfer to a higher level at the same or another educational institution.
- An F-1 student authorized by the DSO to withdraw from classes will be allowed an additional 15-day period for departure from the United States.
- An F-1 student who fails to maintain a full course of study or otherwise fails to maintain status is not eligible for an additional period for departure. The student is considered to be maintaining status if he or she is making normal progress toward completing a course of studies.
- If a student will be moving to a new academic level at the same institution after completing his or her program, the Change of Level procedure must be initiated by the DSO in SEVIS within the 60-day period.
- Generally, no employment is permitted during the 60-day grace period.
Reduced Course Load Exceptions
The Dean of the Conservatory, in consultation with the department chair and the Principal Designated School Official (PDSO), has the authority to determine whether a student is eligible for an exception to the “full course of study” requirement. Students must submit a written request if they feel they meet one of the conditions listed below. Students are expected to be able to provide documentation to support their extenuating circumstances. A decision to approve a reduction of enrollment can be made after careful review of the student’s situation, on a case-by-case basis. The student is expected to return to full-time enrollment the next semester. Exceptions are as follows:
- Documented illness or medical condition (12 months maximum per program).
- Unfamiliarity or difficulties with U.S. teaching methods, reading, or English: Students may be granted, with permission of the Dean of the Conservatory, a reduced course load. They must resume a full course load in the next available term. This is permissible only during the first year of study.
- Students may drop below full-time to complete their current program in their final term. Once an international student’s I-20 has been updated to indicate final term of study, further extensions are not possible.
- As a result of improper course-level placement, the Dean of the Conservatory may approve a reduced course load. Students must resume a full course load in the next available term.
Curricular Practical Training
Longy School of Music of Bard College allows qualifying international students to work off-campus in approved positions through Curricular Practical Training (CPT). The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) states that CPT must be “an integral part of an established curriculum” and define it as “alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” Positions must, therefore, support students’ academic programs and be approved by the Academic Affairs Office. Students must provide documentation from potential employers to the Academic Affairs Office before employment is scheduled to begin. Students must register for CPT for .5 credits per semester and may be asked to provide written documentation of their CPT experiences to the Dean of the Conservatory. International students enrolling at Longy directly from residency in their home country are ineligible for CPT during the first academic year.
Optional Practical Training
Longy School of Music of Bard College allows qualifying international students to apply for work permission, for approved positions, through Optional Practical Training (OPT). The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines OPT as “temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student’s major area of study.” Students should apply for OPT approximately three months before the graduation or course completion date. OPT is granted for a twelve-month period, and any OPT completed prior to graduation counts against the total time permitted. OPT following graduation/course completion is only available on a full-time basis.
To apply for OPT, students must schedule a meeting with the appropriate DSO and provide copies of all required documentation. While students are no longer enrolled at Longy during their OPT, Longy is responsible for reporting any updates and/or changes in status to the USCIS.
Reporting Requirements and Maintaining Status while on Post-Completion OPT
- While on post-completion OPT, a student must continue to report changes in name or address to a DSO within 10 days of the change. The DSO is obligated to update SEVIS within 21 days of receiving the update from the student.
- Periods of unemployment may put a student's F-1 status at risk. During post-completion OPT, F-1 status is dependent upon employment. Students may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment during any post-completion OPT. Each day during the OPT authorization period that the student does not have qualifying employment counts as a day of unemployment.
- SEVIS allows a 10-day exception to the counting of days while someone is between jobs, saying that "periods of up to 10 days between the end of one job and the beginning of the next job will not be included in the calculation for time spent unemployed."
- The student cannot be outside of the U.S. more than 120 days while on post-completion OPT. Time spent outside the United States while unemployed will count towards the 90/120 aggregate during the OPT authorization period, i.e., a student cannot "stop the unemployment clock" simply by exiting the country. If a student travels while employed either during a period of leave authorized by an employer or as part of their employment, the time spent outside the United States will not count as unemployment.
- The student must report any period of unemployment to the appropriate DSO.
Types of Work that Constitute Employment while on OPT
- Regular paid employment
- Payment by multiple short-term multiple employers. Students, such as musicians and other performing artists, may work for multiple short term employers (gigs). The student should maintain a list of all gigs, the dates and duration. If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide a list of all gigs.
- Work for hire. This is also commonly referred to as 1099 employment where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than an employment relationship. If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the contract periods and the name and address of the contracting company.
- Self-employed business owner. Students on OPT may start a business and be self-employed. In this situation, the student must work full time. The student must be able to prove that he or she has the proper business licenses and is actively engaged in a business related to the student's degree program.
- Employment through an agency. Students on post-completion OPT must be able to provide evidence showing they worked an average of at least 20 hours per week while employed by the agency.
- Volunteers or unpaid interns. SEVP says, "Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns, where this does not violate any labor laws. The work must be at least 20 hours per week for students on post-completion OPT. These students must be able to provide evidence from the employer that the student worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment
Students may be denied future immigration benefits that rely on the student's valid F-1 status if DHS determines that the student exceeded the limitations on unemployment. Additionally, the government may examine SEVIS data for an individual, a selected group, or all students on post-completion OPT and terminate a student's record if it fails to show the student maintained the proper period of employment.
Social Security Numbers
To work on- or off-campus, students must have a Social Security Number, a taxpayer identification number issued by the government. You must apply in person at the Social Security Administration Office (http://www.socialsecurity.gov); the nearest office is located at 10 Fawcett Street, Cambridge (take the #78 bus west and get off at the Concord Avenue/Fawcett Street stop).
If you are in international student, you must present the following documents to apply:
- Passport with your visa
- A letter from your designated school official that identifies your employer and the type of work you will be doing. This letter can be obtained from the Student Services Office.
- A letter from your employer that provides evidence of your employment. The Student Services Office has a form letter that we will print for you. You must bring this letter to your supervisor to sign and date.
All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. Photocopies or notarized copies of documents are not acceptable.