See below for important information on International Student policies and services. Please contact Lindsay Conrad, Assistant Director of Admissions and Student Services, at with any questions.
Maintaining F-1 Status
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 deportation from the United States. Maintaining status involves:
- Reporting to a Designated School Official (DSO) no later than the second week of the semester, so that the student can be registered in SEVIS.
- Reporting any change of name or address to a DSO within 10 days of the change.
- Pursuing 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.
- Making normal progress toward completing the course of study and finishing 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.
A student must abide by the rules requiring disclosure of information and prohibition on criminal activity. A student must abide by any special requirements, such as Special Registration requirements.
An F-1 student must not work off-campus, unless specifically authorized for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) after one year of study or Optional Practical Training (OPT) upon graduation. A student must abide by the aggregate unemployment rules while on post-completion OPT.
REDUCED COURSE LOAD EXCEPTIONS
The Dean of the Conservatory, in consultation with a student’s 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 and provide documentation if they feel they meet one of the conditions listed below. A decision about reduction of enrollment will be made after review of the student’s situation. The student is expected to return to full-time enrollment the following semester.
Exceptions to the full course of study requirement:
- Documented illness or medical condition (12 months maximum per program).
- Unfamiliarity or difficulties with U.S. teaching methods or English. This is permissible only during the first year of study.
- In their final term, students may drop below full-time. 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 the following term.
F-1 DURATION OF STATUS (D/S) 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 of 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 a 60-day period to prepare for departure from the United States or transfer to a different program at the same or another educational institution. No employment is permitted during the 60-day grace period.
An F-1 student authorized by the DSO to withdraw from classes will be allowed a 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.
TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES
When traveling outside the U.S., students should take with them all documents relevant to their study at Longy. Passports and visas should be valid for re-entry, and students should ensure that the DSO’s signature on page 2 of the I-20 is not older than one year (six months for students on OPT). Before traveling to a country other than a student’s home country, the student must check with that country’s embassy or consulate to see if a visa is required.
Employment for International Students
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 Student Services Office.
Students must provide two pieces of documentation to the Student Services Office before EACH employment is scheduled to begin:
- Letter from potential employer, that includes name of employer, address of employer, dates employed, and nature of the work. A template can be found HERE.
- Studio Teacher Approval Form, filled out by your current studio teacher.
Students must remain under 20 hours per week of CPT. 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 or a taxpayer identification number issued by the government. You must apply in person at the Social Security Administration Office (https://www.ssa.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.