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Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I maintain F-1 status?

    1. Keep your I-20 and your passport valid at all times. Do not let them expire.
    2. Pursue a full course of study (12 credits or more for undergraduates, nine credits for graduate students, and 18 hours a week for ESL students) 
    3. Follow all of the proper procedures when changing educational level (from ESL to bachelors or masters program), transferring to another school, working on- or off-campus, traveling in and out of the United States, extending your program before expiration, taking a leave of absence from the school, or taking less than a full-time course load.
    4. Before you work on- or off-campus, obtain proper authorization from your DSO and USCIS
    5. Do not work more than 20 hours per week during the academic year; during official school vacation periods, you can work full-time on campus
    6. Obey American laws and do not commit any crimes
    7. When you move, be sure to change your address; change of address forms are available at the Center for International Education
  • Can I obtain a social security number (SSN)?

    You must obtain a social security number if you are earning money in the United States. Social security numbers are used to record your earnings for tax purposes. The social security office will only give you a social security number if you have a job offer. If you don’t have a job offer, the social security office will give you a letter of denial. The denial can be used to apply for a Massachusetts driver's license.

    To apply for a social security number, you will need:

    1. Passport
    2. U.S. Immigration form I-94
    3. I-20 form
    4. Another form of identification with photo
    5. On-campus work authorization from the CIE office
    6. Social security application form 
  • Can I get a Massachusetts driver's license?

    All drivers must have valid driver's licenses. To obtain a driver's license in Massachusetts, you must take both written and practical (road test) exams administered by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. In the mean time, it is useful to have an international driver’s license to be used here in conjunction with your valid driver's license from your home country. You must get your international driver's license in your home country and it’s good for one year from the time you arrive in the United States so long as your country is a signatory of the Driving Convention Treaty.

    To apply for a driver’s license in Massachusetts you will need:
    1. Your passport, I-94 and I-20 forms
    2. Social security card or a letter of denial from the social security office
    3. Document proving the date of birth, such as your passport
    4. Document proving signature (*certification of attendance and cost issued by CIE).
    5. Document proving Massachusetts residency (a bank statement, phone or utility bill, school correspondence)

    * Please fill in the certification of attendance and cost request form and bring it to the CIE. Allow at least 48 hours for the certification to be processed and issued.

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