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International Student Information

Receiving Your I-20 and Applying for a Visa

Once you have been accepted at New England Law | Boston and have paid the required deposits, the Office of Admissions will forward to the Registrar your application for a form I-20.  This application must include an attachment (bank statements, etc.) which shows your ability to finance your first year at New England Law (including tuition, insurance and other fees, books, and living expenses).  After the Registrar has reviewed this application and the documentation and deemed it satisfactory, he will enter your personal information into SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) and print out your form I-20, which will have your SEVIS identification number on it.  The I-20 will be mailed to the address you provide on the application.

Upon receiving the I-20, you will need to make an appointment to apply for a student visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country. Changes in U.S. visa laws and regulations have increased the amount of time it can take to get a visa so processing times will vary.  Typically they will require your valid passport, letter of admission, I-20 form, official copies of your financial support documents, and other supporting materials as needed. We recommend that you schedule an appointment at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as possible. However, please note that you cannot have your visa issued more than 120 days prior to the start date on your I-20 form.  The website of your particular consulate or embassy can be found at Select the city and country where you will apply for a student visa (“non-immigrant” section) to learn what the procedures are for your particular consulate. The following state department website also has information:

Please Note:

Obtaining Employment in the United States

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is offered to students who have completed one year of study and who are in good academic standing.  OPT allows you to work in the U.S. provided the job is directly related to your field of study.  Students with F-1 visa status may apply for one year (12 months) of Optional Practical Training, during which time employment is authorized in the United States.

Think of OPT as a bank account.  In that account is 12 months of full-time Optional Practical Training.  If, for example, you would like to work full-time for three months one summer before you graduate, that is a three month “withdrawal” of full-time employment.  You will still have nine months to use after you have completed your academic program.

Types of OPT

There are two types of OPT available to F-1 students: Pre-completion OPT and Post-completion OPT:

Pre-completion OPT.  Students who wish to work in their field before graduation may apply for pre-completion OPT, after they have successfully completed one full year of study.  The application process is listed below.  Students who are granted an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) for pre-completion OPT may work no more than 20 hours per week when school is in session.  On school breaks and over the summer, students may work a full-time 40-hour week.  Please note that any time spent working on a pre-completion OPT will be subtracted from the 12 months allotted for post-completion OPT.  Part-time (20 hours/week) OPT is deducted at one-half the rate of full-time OPT.  So, if you work part-time for 2 months, only one month will be subtracted from your allotted 12 months.

Post-completion OPT.  Most students save their 12 months of OPT for a post-completion OPT, after the student has completed their program of study.  Again, the OPT must be in the field of law.  Students on post-completion OPT may work full-time (40-hour weeks).  

When to Submit Your OPT Application

For students who intend to do OPT after graduation, you may apply for OPT up to 90 days prior to your academic program end date, and no later than 60 days after your academic program end date.  We strongly advise applying before your academic program ends.  Consult the law school’s Registrar, who is the Principal Designated School Official (PDSO) about the exact end date of your program.

Please note that OPT must be approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, so plan ahead to ensure a timely receipt of your application.  If your OPT application is received by USCIS more than 60 days after you complete your program, you will not be eligible for OPT.

Please note:  Authorization for OPT is limited to a total of twelve (12) months combined, and all OPT must be completed within fourteen (14) months after the end date of your academic program.

Other Points of Note

Periods of Unemployment (Post-Completion OPT)

Once your OPT application is approved, continued F-1 status and post-completion OPT work permission are dependent on active employment.  Students authorized for the standard 12-month OPT period are limited to a cumulative total of 90 days without employment.  If you are unemployed for an aggregate of more than 90 days during your approved OPT period, your work permission will be terminated and your F-1 status is ended.  In this case, you will need to take immediate steps to settle your affairs and leave the U.S. or otherwise change your status.  All periods of unemployment must be reported to the New England Law Registrar immediately.

Responsibilities of F-1 Students on OPT

While on post-completion OPT, you are still an F-1 student visa holder through New England Law | Boston.  This means that you are responsible for communicating the following information to the PDSO (the New England Law registrar) during your OPT time:

Traveling Outside the U.S. While on OPT

Please read this section carefully.  If you do not follow these guidelines, you may be refused reentry into the United States, should you travel outside the U.S. while on OPT:

NOTE: You must obtain a travel signature from the New England Law Registrar on your I-20 every six months while on OPT.

If you plan to travel abroad, be sure to have:

You may travel outside the United States while the OPT application is pending, if you can present the USCIS Processing Center receipt, proving that the application for employment has been filed.

However, once the EAD card for OPT is issued to you, if you decide to travel outside the U.S., you may only re-enter the United States to resume employment.  DHS has clarified that the F-1 student does not need to have already started actual employment before leaving, as long as the student has a job offer to which to return.

If you must travel abroad, we strongly advise F-1 students who are an OPT and have received the EAD card to make sure that there is documentation from your employer confirming the employment or job offer.  Otherwise there is a real risk that you may not be allowed to reenter the United States.

Before you travel
, you should also go onto the U.S. Consulate website in your home country to see if there are other requirements:

Applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT)

You are not authorized to begin Optional Practical Training until you receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service/Department of Homeland Security.  Current policy for submitting applications to receive an EAD stipulate that international students must apply no earlier than 90 days prior, and no later than 60 days after, the end date of their academic program.  Completed OPT applications may be submitted to New England Law's Principal Designated School Official (the registrar).  We suggest allowing 7-10 days for processing by the registrar and for any delays in the U.S. mail delivery.  The registrar will submit your application at the correct time(s).

Application Instructions for OPT

You are not authorized to begin Optional Practical Training until you receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service/Department of Homeland Security.  Completed OPT applications may be submitted to New England Law's Principal Designated School Official (the Registrar) for review.  We suggest allowing 3-4 days for review by the Registrar.  The Registrar will also make a copy of the application packet for your permanent file.

How to Apply for your EAD (Employment Authorization Document)

Information and resources about the application process for an OPT can be found online at Be sure to read the "OPT Policy Guidance (PDF)" located at the bottom of the of the page.

Please note:  U.S. government Internet links change frequently. The Registrar checks the links listed here every semester before publication of the course registration information on the Registrar's website. The Registrar has verified that the Internet links listed in this section are accurate as of February 25, 2014. If links are not working properly for you, please see the Registrar for assistance.

1.)  Download and complete INS form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization). This form is available at:

2.)  Bring the following items to the Registrar:

3.)  At the New England Law Office of the Registrar, fill out a Student Request Form, requesting the OPT. Be sure to give the dates for your OPT request on the Student Request form, and (if known), the name and address of your employer.

Once your application and supporting materials have been reviewed by the PDSO (New England Law Registrar), the PDSO will enter your OPT request online on the SEVIS website. You may then submit your application and all necessary supporting materials to the Immigration Service Center for final processing. You may also ask the New England Law registrar to submit it for you.

If you choose to mail the application yourself, you should send it to:

After your application and supporting materials have been mailed and received:

Please remember:

You may not begin working until you have received your EAD card. Working without an EAD card is a serious violation of your F-1 status.

Student Reporting Requirements



Please direct any questions to the Registrar.  You may contact the Registrar by email ( or make an appointment by calling (617) 422-7215 or by writing to the Registrar’s mailbox at: