Page last updated on September 13, 2021
Please note that information on this page overrides all other information on the International Student Services (ISS) site. Berklee is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation. This page lists important information specific to international students. Please check this page regularly for updates.
What are the enrollment requirements for fall 2021?
This fall, the academic experience will be on campus, and there is no fully remote option (though a limited number of courses will be offered remotely). International students are required to comply with standard, pre-COVID F-1 enrollment requirements and regulations.
To maintain F-1 status this fall:
- All students must enroll full-time (at least 12 credits).
- F-1 students may take only one online section of a course offered by the College/Conservatory to count towards full-time enrollment. Read more on the Online Course Policy for International Students page (login required).
Fall vacation semester: Students who were enrolled full-time in both spring and summer 2021 may be eligible for a fall vacation semester. Read eligibility requirements on the Part-Time Enrollment and Vacation Semester page (login required).
Can I enroll part-time during fall 2021?
Part-time options for all students during the fall and spring semesters are limited. Please read the Part-Time Enrollment and Vacation Semester page (login required) for eligibility criteria.
How do I apply for OPT?
Follow the OPT application process on the ISS OPT page (login required).
Am I eligible to apply for OPT if I am outside of the U.S. during the fall 2020 and/or spring 2021 semester?
Yes, you are eligible to apply for OPT. Your time outside of the U.S. will not affect your eligibility to apply for OPT as long as you are in F-1 status in fall 2020 and spring 2021, regardless of your physical location.
Can I mail my OPT application to the government from outside the U.S.?
No. You must mail your OPT application from within the U.S. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations state that applicants must have a valid I-94 demonstrating entry into the U.S. at the time they mail their OPT application. Therefore, OPT applications must be mailed from within the U.S.
If you will be outside the U.S. during your final semester, you must return to the U.S. no later than the first day of finals week to mail your OPT application to USCIS. After this date, you risk risk not be admitted to the U.S. in F-1 status because you will not have a valid academic reason for entering the U.S.
Students who return to the U.S. after their I-20 end date will not be admitted in F-1 status and will no longer be eligible for OPT.
How can I retrieve the documents USCIS mails to Berklee on my behalf?
The Berklee mail room will continue to receive mail, and an ISS staff member will retrieve mail from USCIS during the week. Receipt notices, approval notices, social security number (SSN) cards, and other USCIS communications will be scanned and emailed to your Berklee email. ISS will also pay to ship them to you anywhere in the world.
During the pandemic, can I work for my employer from outside the U.S.?
Yes. Due to COVID-19, SEVP is temporarily allowing students to stay in F-1 status when working remotely for a U.S. employer (including freelance work performed for U.S. clients). Your employer or freelance clients must be physically in the U.S. for your work to count as OPT employment. Work performed for non-U.S.–based clients/companies does not count toward your OPT employment time.
Am I required to work at least 20 hours per week to maintain my OPT status?
No. SEVP is temporarily allowing students to stay in F-1 status if they are working fewer than 20 hours per week. Remember to report all employment via your SEVP Portal (login required).
Will my USCIS-approved EAD end date change due to COVID-19?
No, the work authorization end date printed on your EAD will not change.
What happens to my OPT if I can’t return to the U.S. due to COVID-19 travel restrictions?
If travel restrictions prevent you from returning to the U.S., SEVP is temporarily allowing students on OPT to maintain their OPT by working remotely for a U.S.-based company or freelance clients. Your employer and/or freelance clients must be physically inside the U.S. for your work to qualify as OPT employment. Work performed for non-U.S.–based entities does not count toward your OPT employment time.
Unfortunately, the regulations regarding unemployment time (login required) have not changed. Your OPT authorization will be canceled if you reach your maximum unemployment time before you can or are permitted to return to the U.S.
I heard that some students on OPT are being referred to secondary inspection for additional questioning when they enter the U.S. What should I do if it happens to me?
ISS understands that speaking with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials may be stressful for all travelers to the U.S. Based on our experience and shared information from our professional networks, we can offer the following advice:
- The CBP officer may or may not ask to see proof of employment (login required). Before you travel, print documents that prove you have current or upcoming OPT employment, and keep them in your carry-on.
- Remain calm, and be polite and respectful when speaking to immigration officials.
- Be prepared to explain your OPT work to the best of your ability.
- Listen carefully to the officers’ questions to avoid providing more information than the answer requires.
ISS is here to help. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns before you travel to the U.S.
If I am in the U.S., can I work remotely for a company that is inside or outside the U.S.?
While you are physically in the U.S., you must have USCIS work authorization to work remotely for any company in the U.S. or worldwide (excluding Berklee student employment). Please review the Gigs, Online Work, Volunteering, and More page (login required) on the ISS site.
If I am not in the U.S., can I work remotely for a U.S. company?
F-1 students who are physically outside the U.S. do not need USCIS authorization to work for any company worldwide, including student employment at Berklee.
Am I allowed to work remotely for my on-campus student employment job ?
Yes. Current ICE/SEVP guidance states that students may work remotely as an on-campus student employee, inside or outside the U.S. You do not need work authorization on your I-20 to work for Berklee Student Employment. Go to the Student Employment page (login required) for important student employment information.
- Office hours: We are operating remotely from Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. ET.
- Phone: Call us at 1-617-747-6600, and leave a voicemail (include your Berklee ID number and phone number). An advisor will return your call during business hours.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (include your Berklee ID number).
- Meet with an international advisor: Sign up for virtual drop-in hours or schedule a virtual appointment (login required).
ISS emails important updates to College and Conservatory F-1 visa holders (including alumni on post-completion OPT). These emails are archived in full on the Email Communication History page.