International Student Services

The Counseling and Advising Center (CAC) is the first place to go for accurate information on policies and procedures concerning international students. Your friends and roommates are not trained to analyze and make recommendations concerning your individual situation. It is always recommended that you come to the CAC any time you have questions about maintaining your F-1 status.

We also encourage any international students finding it difficult to adjust to life in the United States to consult our office for assistance.

Watch an international student discuss his education at Berklee:

Cultural Adjustment

Adjusting to life in the U.S. can be difficult. It is normal for international students to have feelings of confusion, fear, frustration, or homesickness. The international advisors and personal counselors at the CAC are available to discuss any concerns or problems that you may have as you adjust to life in Boston and at Berklee. In addition, the following documents may be helpful:

Travel into The U.S.

When you travel into the U.S. you will need to present the following documents at the U.S. port-of-entry:

  1. Valid passport
  2. Valid F1 Visa (except for passport holders from Canada and Bermuda)
  3. Valid Form I-20
  4. Proof of I-901 (SEVIS) fee payment

First time students may enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the start date listed on the Form I-20.

Form I-20

Your Form I-20 is the certificate of eligibility issued by Berklee and consists of three pages: the student information page, the endorsement page, and the instructions page. The student information page includes information about Berklee and the program you have been admitted to. Your SEVIS ID number (which begins with N) is printed at the top of the page. 

If you are entering the U.S. to attend school for the first time, the Custom and Border Control (CBP) official at the U.S. port of entry will review your Form I-20 and place an entry stamp in your passport. This stamp indicates that you have been inspected for admission into the U.S. and have been authorized to attend the school whose name appears on your Form I-20. You must attend the school that issued you the Form I-20.

The signature on page 2 of your Form I-20 is valid for 12 months (or six months if you are on USCIS-approved Post-Completion Optional Practical Training). While travel signatures are valid for 12 months, if you intend to apply for a new F-1 visa, we recommend that your signature be less than six months old. 

It takes one week to process a travel signature request. If you intend to travel outside the U.S., you may request a revalidation (travel) signature at the Counseling and Advising Center. You will be required to complete a Travel Signature Request form and leave your Form I-20 for up to one week. You may use that signature for unlimited entries to the U.S. during the specified time period.

The Form I-20 must be accurate and valid throughout your enrollment and you are responsible for the accuracy of this document. Check the Form I-20 to make sure that all the dates and enrollment information are correct. Be sure that you do not allow your Form I-20 to expire prior to completion of your academic program. Speak with your international student advisor if you see any incorrect information on your I-20 or if you need to request an extension of the document.

Note: Each dependent who accompanies you to the U.S. must have an individual Form I-20 (indicated by the class "F-2" on page one of the form).

F-1 Visa Stamp

Entry visas are issued by the Department of State at U.S embassies or consulates throughout the world. Students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States must obtain an F-1 student visa in order to attend Berklee College of Music. Non-U.S. citizens entering the country with a visitor visa (B-1, B-2) or under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are not permitted to engage in full-time study.

The visa stamp on your passport is your permission to enter the U.S. It indicates the number of times you may enter the U.S. and the time period for which this permission is valid. You cannot apply for a new visa while you are in the U.S. If you leave the U.S. and want to re-enter, you must have a valid visa.

Entering students who have questions about their F-1 visa should speak with an applicant advisor in the Admissions Office; continuing and returning students should speak with an international advisor in the CAC.

Enrollment Status

As an international student, you are required to be enrolled full-time at Berklee for at least two semesters per calendar year. This means you must register for and earn grades for at least 12 required credits each semester in order to maintain your F-1 status unless you are authorized for part-time enrollment by the CAC. To be authorized for part-time enrollment, you must meet with an international advisor in the CAC.

Course withdrawals, credit by exam, and transfer credit do not count as part of your 12 enrolled credits. If you have questions about part-time enrollment, course withdrawals, or credit by exam, come to the CAC for more information.

In your final semester, you must be registered for at least one required course.

Academic Standing

You must maintain a grade point average of at least 2.0 and meet Berklee's published Satisfactory Academic Progress guidelines. If you are having difficulty doing so, please come to the CAC and speak with an advisor.


Students register for internships through the Office of Experiential Learning (OEL). OEL staff work closely with international advisors to verify eligiblity for participation in Berklee-sponsored internships. If you want to register for an internship, speak with a staff member in OEL and an international advisor in the CAC.

Internship enrollment must be reported to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and authorized on page 3 of a student's Form I-20. It is your responsibility to inform OEL and you international advisor as early as possible of any internship plans you may have. Failure to do so could result in a denial of the internship or violation of your F-1 status.

Work Permission

You may work on campus through the student employment program. During non-vacation semesters, students may not work more than 20 hours per week on campus. Contact the Student Employment Office for more information concerning on-campus student employment.

International students may not work off-campus without permission from the U.S. government. If you have had a valid F-1 status for two consecutive semesters and you are interested in working off-campus, come to the CAC and request the "Employment Options" handout. This handout explains the various types of work permission you may be eligible for, and how to apply. Off-campus employment is extremely limited and must be directly related to your studies at Berklee.

Additional Topics

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