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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • How do I contact Immigration & International Support Services (IISS)? and Where are they located? IISS can be contacted via email at We are located in Fennell 107 near the Cardinal Booth. Our information is also available on the home page we have walk-in hours, and also see student by appointment in-person, and via zoom or microsoft teams. We advise all 3 MCPHS campuses at Boston, Worcester, and Manchester.
  • Who issues I-20 Forms to students at MCPHS? The Immigration and International Support Services Office (IISS) issues the initial form I-20 and advises all F-1 students at the Boston, Worcester, and Manchester Campuses. We continue to advise F-1 MCPHS students after they graduate while they are on OPT and STEM OPT. 
  • What is the SEVIS Fee and when do I pay it? The SEVIS Fee is officially called the I-901 SEVIS Fee. It is paid online at You can only pay this after your SEVIS I-20 is issued. You pay this fee, once you have your form I-20 that shows your SEVIS ID number and School Code. You should only pay this fee once for the SEVIS ID N00XXXXXX that is shown on your Form I-20. You pay this fee before your F-1 visa interview. If you are Canadian or Bermudan, you do not need to apply for an F-1 visa. Canadians and Bermudans only pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee, and enter the U.S. with their Form I-20.  
  1.  complete the online visa application, and
  2. print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  3. Photo –You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements. Schedule an Interview  Consular officers may require an interview of any visa applicant.​   
  • Do I need to schedule my visa appointment in my home country? You should schedule an appointment for your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at another U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be more difficult to qualify for a visa outside of the country where you live. Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply. For more questions please visit or our resource page applying for an f-1 visa
  • What documents do I need when I travel to the United States?
  1.  ​​A Form I-20, signed by your DSO and endorsed/signed for travel on page 
  2. A current passport valid for at least six months after the date of your reentry or, if you are from one of the countries listed on the 6 month club list, a passport that is current through the date of entry 
  3. A valid, current F-1 visa
  4. If you are a citizen of Canada or Bermuda, these are visa-exempt countries. Make sure that you present your I-20 to be admitted as an F-1 student and not a visitor. For questions please visit the ​​
  • Does Immigration & International Support Services require an F-1 orientation for F-1 students? Yes, IISS does have an F-1 orientation at the beginning of the Fall and the Spring semesters for new F-1 students. This F-1 orientation is required for all new and transfer F-1 students.
  • Can my family come with me while I study in the United States? Yes, As an F-1 student, you can bring your spouse and children with you as F-2 dependents. 
  • Do I need to be enrolled full-time enrollment? Yes, F-1 students are required to be enrolled full-time during the required term of enrollment. If you are required to be enrolled for Fall and Spring, then you must be full-time. If you are in an accelerated program, Fall, Spring, and Summer are required terms of enrollment. For additional questions, contact IISS or visit during walk-ins hours.
  • As an F-1 student can I work on-campus at MCPHS?  Yes, F-1 students are allowed to work on-campus for no more than 20 hours per week during the academic year of their program. Working more than 20 hours per week is a violation of your F-1 status. For additional questions, contact IISS.   
  • As an F-1 student can I work off-campus? For F-1 students this is a complicated matter. F-1 students in general, must have authorization for off-campus employment, internships, practicums, etc.. Unpaid opportunities can also be considered as employment. Email to schedule an appointment.
  • What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)? CPT is one form of off-campus authorization for F-1 students. It is training directly to the student’s major field of study and is part of the University's established curriculum. The Designated school official (DSO) authorized CPT in SEVIS and the authorization prints on the student’s Form I-20. CPT occurs before the student’s program end date on the Form I-20. Authorization is for one specific employer and for a specific period of time. The Student must secure the training opportunity before CPT can be authorized.CPT must be authorized before the student can begin work. A student can have more than one CPT authorization at the same time. One year of full-time CPT eliminates a student’s eligibility for OPT. CPT is a complex matter and at MCPHS depending on when you started your degree-seeking program, or which program you are enrolled in may determine if or when you are eligible to apply and get authorization. Questions about CPT contact IISS to schedule an appointment or come to walk-in hours. 
  • What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)? Optional practical training is one type of work authorization available for eligible F-1 students. It allows students to get real-world work experience related to their field of study. There is a Pre-Completion OPT that can be applied for during an F-1 student's program of study, or Post-Completion OPT to use after you graduate. Post-Completion OPT is applied for during the last semester of your program of study, or during the 60-day grace period after your program end date. Your DSO recommends OPT in SEVIS, then the F-1 student must apply for work authorization with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). If the OPT is approved, USCIS will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The student must not begin working before the start date on the EAD. For more questions about OPT please contact IISS to schedule an appointment or come to walk-in hours.
  • What is STEM Optional Practical Training? STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The STEM OPT  application is an extension that F-1 students can apply for to obtain an additional 24 months of employment authorization. The program of study must have an eligible CIP code determined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The F-1 student must be a bona fide employee who is enrolled in USCIS's E-Verify employment eligibility verification program. The Form I-983 must be completed and any material changes reported.DHS requires that the STEM OPT student and employer work together to complete Form I-983. Properly completing this form will successfully document the relationship between the STEM OPT opportunity, the academic degree received, and the learning objectives of the F-1 student. For more questions about STEM OPT contact IISS.
  • As an F-1 student, can I work UNPAID or PAID off-campus without authorization? NO, as an F-1 student cannot work off-campus without authorization.  Working UNPAID or PAID Off-campus is a direct violation of F-1 status, and the Form I-20 will be terminated for "Unauthorized Employment." For questions regarding off-campus employment contact IISS to schedule an appointment or come to walk-in hours. 
  • As an F-1 student can I do volunteering off-campus? Contact the IISS before engaging in any volunteering. Volunteering must be a true "volunteer experience." Work unpaid does not equal volunteering. 
  • As an F-1 student can I apply for Social Security Number (SSN)? SSNs are for tax purposes. F-1 students can only apply for an SSN if they have an on-campus job, or are authorized for CPT, or OPT. Once you have an SSN, you do not need to apply for it again. Here for more information about SSNs
  • Do I need an SSN to open a bank account? No, SSNs are not required to open bank accounts. 
  • How can I apply for work authorization, CPT, and OPT? Please contact the IISS office regarding any questions about work authorization.