Our Student Services Office is here to assist international students with the process of applying to, and attending, school in the United States. We advise students on issues ranging from maintaining legal status in the United States, financing one’s education, and employment.
Please also refer to our COVID-19 Travel and Visa FAQ for international students.
See below for important information on International Student policies and services. Please contact Benjamin Nourse Gross, Assistant Director of Admissions, at with any questions.
Traveling to the United States
Whether you are coming to the U.S. for the first time, or you will be continuing your studies here, we want to make sure you are ready for your travel.
Below are some important tips and reminders so that you can make sure to prepare your required documents, and yourself, for your trip.
Remember – good preparation and organization makes smooth travel!
1. Scheduling your Travel
Remember that you cannot enter the U.S. until 30 days before your Longy program starts. If you arrive before this date you may be denied entry.
Students studying at an English (ESL) program in the U.S. during the summer may enter may enter in the U.S. up to 30 days before your ESL program starts.
2. Organize your documents
To ensure a quick and easy entry into the U.S., please make sure you have these REQUIRED documents in an easily accessible place:
- Valid Passport
- Valid F1 Student Visa
- Signed I-20 from Longy School of Music
We also HIGHLY RECOMMEND you bring:
3. Pack your bags
Moving your whole life to a new country is not easy, and you will have lots of things you will want to bring. To make it easy, here are suggestions on what you SHOULD bring and what you CAN’T bring:
For your carry-on, we suggest you pack:
- I-20, Passport & Visa, other highly recommended documents (see above)
- Cash (in your native country’s currency and American currency)
- An extra set of clothes
- Laptop or computer
In addition, there are PROHIBITED items that are not allowed to be brought into the U.S., either in your carry-on or checked bags. These items include:
- Alcoholic Beverages
- Drugs (including marijuana)
- Drug paraphernalia (including marijuana products)
- Some food products (prepared)
- Some fruits and vegetables
- Pets that do not meet the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) entry requirements (see the guidelines HERE)
A full list of prohibited items and explanations can be found on the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website HERE.
Marijuana and International Students
Although marijuana is now legal in several different states, including Massachusetts, it is still illegal under federal law. As an international student, it is considered an ILLEGAL ACTIVITY by Federal Agents (even in Massachusetts). When you enter the U.S. at an airport or border, your social media accounts, texts, and email are all subject to search. Evidence of marijuana use (such as photos or texts to friends about buying or using paraphernalia) can be reason enough for agents to refuse entry.
4. Mobile Passport App (Canadian Citizens Only)
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection has recently released a mobile app called “Mobile Passport Control” for U.S. and Canadian citizens for a quicker entry process. However, please note that unless you are a Canadian citizen you are not permitted to use this application in place of your passport and visa.
More about the Mobile Passport Control app and who can use it is available online HERE.
When you Leave the United States
Make sure you have the following items with you if you are traveling outside the U.S. at any time during your program:
- Passport (valid for at least six months after your return to the U.S.)
- F1 visa
- I-20 endorsed by the DSO within the last 12 months
- See your DSO to check if their endorsement is current
- Documentation of financial support for your program
Emergency Information and Important Contacts
If you find yourself in an emergency, either while traveling to the U.S. or while studying in the U.S., it is important to know the steps to take to get help.
More information on campus safety and general emergency protocols can be found in the Student Handbook.
Please read the information below on emergency procedures for international students.
IMPORTANT RESOURCES & EMERGENCY CONTACTS
Longy DSO’s – Designated School Officials (DSO) are your main point of contact for any questions relating to your I-20, F1 visa, or international student advising. Your Longy DSO’s are:
- Benjamin Nourse Gross, Assistant Director of Admissions & PDSO
- Ruth Blackburn, Registrar and Director of Student Advising
- Lauren Flaherty
- Tyler Reece
Emergency Phone Number – +1 781-392-9742 (see below under “Secondary Inspection or Detainment” for more information)
- This emergency line is available during the following high travel periods:
- Thanksgiving Recess
- Winter Break
- Spring Recess
- Summer Break (June 1 – first day of Fall semester classes)
- Please note that this number should ONLY be used when you are in secondary inspection or detained at an airport or border.
Study in the States – a free and comprehensive government guide that explains rules and regulations for international students in the U.S.
SEVP Response Center – The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is part of the National Security Investigations Division, and manages schools and F visa students. Call them if you have any questions about your I-20 or regulations regarding your F1 visa. Offices are open Monday-Friday, 8:00am to 6:00pm EST, except holidays.
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – works with courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.
- American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) – nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that provides continuing legal education, information, professional services, and expertise, including a Searchable Database of Immigration Lawyers
- City of Boston: Office for Immigrant Advancement – a city office with a mission to strengthen the ability of immigrants and Boston’s diverse cultural and linguistic communities, which includes free on-on-one information from volunteer immigration lawyers.
- Massachusetts List of Pro Bono Legal Service Providers
WHILE TRAVELING TO THE U.S.
If any international student has an emergency travel situation it is important to know who to contact.
Lost or Stolen Passport or Visa
- Contact your country’s embassy or consulate to get instructions on how to obtain a new passport/visa.
- Contact one of Longy’s DSO’s and inform them of your situation. You will need a new I-20 issued by Longy.
Secondary Inspection or Detainment
If you are called for secondary inspection (officer cannot verify your information) or detained at the U.S. border, you may call Longy’s international emergency telephone number (+1 781-392-9742). This should only be used for immigration and visa related emergencies that require an immediate response.
WHILE STUDYING IN THE U.S.
International students studying in the United States may face emergency situations while attending school. These emergencies can range from natural disasters to man-made events and can affect your safety and impact school operations.
It is important that all international students know how to maintain their nonimmigrant student status, even during emergency events. This means students should continue to take all the necessary actions to remain in status, to the extent possible under the circumstances, and communicate with their designated school official (DSO) about the emergency plans on their campus.
The information below is from the Study in the States “Maintain F and M Status in Emergency Events” HERE.
Items to Keep Safe
International students should keep the following items in a safe, secure place so that they are easily accessible in the event of an emergency:
- Passport and F1 visa
- Important student forms, like your I-20
- DSO Emergency Contact Information
- Contact information for SEVP
- Social Security Card and Employment Authorization (EAD) card, if applicable
- Financial records
- Travel-related documents like boarding passes and plane tickets, if applicable
Preparing for Emergencies
Campus disruptions can range from natural disasters to man-made events, pandemics or campus violence. The impact of these events can be far-reaching and highlight the need for all students to have an emergency plan in place.
We encourage students to take the following actions to begin making their own emergency preparedness plan while they study in the United Sates:
- Be Prepared, Build a Kit.
- Visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website.
- Explore Ready.gov’s Campus Ready resources.
- Follow FEMA’s popular accounts on social media.
- Log-in to Longy’s Rave Mobile Safety system and update your cell phone number. This allows you to receive text messages alerts to keep you informed about what to do while situations unfold and stay updated on the operational status of your school.
Maintaining F1 Status
As an international student on an F1 visa, you have certain responsibilities and guidelines that you will need to follow. It is extremely important for you to maintain non-immigrant F1 status while in the United States. Failure to maintain the terms and conditions of non-immigrant 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.
- Maintain 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.
F1 students 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.
F1 students 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 (see Employment and Work section below).
Remember – you are here to attend a school program, and this must be the main focus of your stay in the United States.
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.
F1 DURATION OF STATUS (D/S) AND GRACE PERIODS
Entering the U.S.
An F1 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 F1 student may be admitted for a period of up to 30 days before the start of the course of study.
Withdrawing from Classes
An F1 student authorized by the DSO to withdraw from classes will be allowed a 15-day grace period for departure from the United States. An F1 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.
After Completing your Program
An F1 student who has completed a course of study will be allowed a 60-day grace 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.
If an international student does not transfer, change status, receive OPT approval, or leave the U.S. within their designated grace period, the student is considered to have “unlawful presence.
Individuals who have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence during a single stay, and then depart, may be subject to three-year or 10-year bars to admission to the U.S.
Employment and Work
As an international F1 student, your primary purpose of being in the U.S. is to study and attend your classes for your program.
However, qualifying international students may take advantage approved on-campus and off-campus employment opportunities during and after their program of study.
On-Campus Employment (OCE)
International students are allowed to do On-Campus Employment (OCE) for a maximum of 20 hours per week during the school year. On a case by case basis, hiring managers may request prior approval from HR to hire a student to work more than this maximum during vacations (no more than 40 hours). If a student is combining On-Campus Employment with CPT, the combined hours (on-campus and off-campus) cannot be more than 20 hours per week during the school year and 40 hours during school holidays and vacations. Students will be notified of available OCE opportunities at the beginning of each semester.
- Students may start on-campus employment in their first semester.
- Students should apply to all OCE positions directly to the department contact listed on the job posting
- Students must obtain a social security number (see below for more information) before they can begin working. In addition, students will be required to fill out necessary OCE employment paperwork before they begin working:
- Students should be aware that they must pay state and federal taxes on any money which they earn.
A benefit of the F1 student visa is the ability to work off-campus in your chosen field as practical training. This means that students can work in the field of music with authorization by USCIS prior to employment. These benefits are called Curricular Practical Training(CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT).
Both are designed to give students the opportunity to gain meaningful, practical experience that will enrich their academic program. Employment authorization is automatically terminated when the student fails to maintain status.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) allows students to work up to 20 hours per week during the school year and 40 hours per week during vacations in music-related employment off-campus. If a student is combining CPT with On-Campus, the combined hours (on-campus and off-campus) cannot be more than 20 hours per week during the school year and 40 hours during school holidays and vacations.
- Undergraduate Students attending a U.S. institution for the first time may not participate in CPT until the third semester of their program. Exceptions may be made if the student’s studio teacher gives specific approval for this work.
- Graduate Students attending a U.S. institution for the first time – may not participate in CPT until the second semester of their program. Exceptions may be made if the student’s studio teacher gives specific approval for this work.
- Transfer students or graduate students that have completed a program in the U.S.can participate in CPT during their first semester.
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
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows students to work to apply for work permission for 12 months after their completed program is finished. Students must submit a formal application with USCIS for OPT approval. Students with approved OPT are expected to work full-time (40 hours per week) in a music-related field.
- Students should apply for OPT approximately three months before the graduation or course completion date. An email with information regarding the OPT application, including:
- Longy OPT Information Packet
- Instructions on filing I-765 application form
- 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.
- All Graduate programs are only eligible for 12 months of OPT, meaning that a student will only receive 12 months of OPT total for the Master of Music, Graduate Performance Diploma, Graduate Diploma in Composition, and Artist Diploma. If a student decides to do multiple programs, either at Longy or another school, a student may choose to split the 12 months of OPT available between the programs. Please see the Student Services Office for more information if you are considering this option.
Once approved for OPT, you will be required to report your employment and maintain status.
SEVP Student Portal
Approved OPT Students can now report employment, update information (including addresses and name changes), and view important information on their OPT status through the SEVP Student Portal.
You will receive an email with instructions on creating a portal account. This email will come from . If you do not see the email, check your spam or junk mail folder. If you still do not see it, contact Benjamin Nourse Gross or one of the other Designated School Officials (DSO) to have the email sent again.
The SEVP Portal will allow you to:
- View details about your OPT
- Report changes to your address, telephone, (add comma) and employer information.
- View and update data on all your employers in one place.
Any data updates you make in the portal will be sent directly to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.
SEVP has created an SEVP Portal Help section on Study in the States with:
- Information about the portal.
- The SEVP Portal User Guide which provides screenshots and detailed step-by-step instructions for using the portal.
- SEVP Portal videos.
- A useful one-page reference sheet on the portal.
Use of the portal is voluntary but highly encouraged by SEVP. If you have any questions about the portal or need assistance, call the SEVP Response Center at 703-603-3400.
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 the Department of Homeland Security (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 F1 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.
The nearest office to the Longy campus 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
- I-94 (available HERE)
- A letter from your Designated School Official (DSO) 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. A template of the Employer letter can be found HERE.
All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. Photocopies or notarized copies of documents are not acceptable.