Services for International Students and Scholars

F Student Visa

Are you an international student in an academic program or a short-term English program? If so, you will travel with an F student visa.

Beginning the F Visa Application Process

Once you accept the offer of admission from Northeastern University, the Office of Global Services (OGS) will work with you to prepare Form I-20. The I-20 indicates that an international student has been accepted as a full-time, degree-seeking student with the required proficiency in the English language documented by TOEFL test scores, or their equivalent, or as a student enrolled in an English language program with sufficient financial support documented through an online form sent from your admissions to study at a U.S. academic institution.

Applying For the F-1 Visa

When you have Form I-20 from Northeastern, it will be time to start the visa application process:

  • Check the validity of your passport. It must be valid for at least six months from the date you begin the visa process.
  • Pay the SEVIS fee. The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s electronic database. As mandated by federal government regulations, SEVIS tracks and monitors nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors during their stay in the United States.
  • Gather necessary supporting documents for the visa application
  • Make an appointment at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Remember that the Form I-20 does not guarantee a U.S. student visa. During your visa interview, you will be asked about your study plans, ties to your home country, future career objectives, and how you will fund your education in the United States. Please note: Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not need to apply for an F-1 visa, but are required to have the I-20 and pay the SEVIS I-901 fee before entering the United States to study.

Maintaining Your F-1 Visa Status

To maintain your F-1 visa status, please

  • Arrive before the program start date listed on your Form I-20
  • Check in with OGS by filling out the online OGS check-in form upon arrival and participate in the OGS international orientation and Northeastern new student orientation
  • Enroll for full-time study and make progress towards completing your studies — a minimum of 12 credit hours per term for undergraduates and 8-9 credit hours for graduate students. Only one 3- or 4-credit online course per academic term may count towards full-time study, and students must maintain an on-ground course presence throughout each required term
  • Do not drop courses or change program of study without receiving approval from the OGS
  • Change local U.S. and home country addresses in MyNEU within 10 days of moving
  • Update your phone number and emergency contact information in MyNEU
  • Keep your passport valid at least six months into the future
  • If on the Boston campus, maintain health insurance. Massachusetts law requires all residents to have medical insurance coverage
  • Follow University Health and Counseling Services (UHCS) procedures if you need to apply for a medical leave of absence
  • Check the OGS webpages and your Husky email account for immigration reminders, updates, and regulation changes from OGS


The spouse and children under age 21 of an F-1 visa holder receive dependent I-20s to apply for their F-2 visas. The student requests family member I-20s at the same time as she/he requests her/his original Form I-20. Dependents may apply for the F-2 visa at the same time you apply for the F-1 visa or at a later date if you plan to travel separately. Dependents do not pay a SEVIS fee. F-2 visa holders may not work during their stay in the United States. Your F-2 spouse may study part time, and children with F-2 visas may attend elementary, middle, and high school while you study in the United States.

Traveling Outside the United States

If you travel outside the United States during your period of study, you will need

  1. Your original I-20 signed by Office of Global Services (OGS). Check the criteria to see if you need a Travel Signature as you make your travel preparations. The OGS holds first-come-first-served sessions for travel signatures in Boston. In Seattle, please contact the OGS for scheduling. Another option is to submit the OGS Travel Signature request form and your I-20 to OGS. Allow five business days for travel signature processing.
  2. Your passport that is valid for six months into the future with your unexpired F-1 visa
  3. Review the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) tips for travel outside the United States

Traveling Inside the United States

If you travel within the United States, you should carry your passport, Form I-20, and I-94 with you. The I-94 is your arrival/departure record and maintained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection with information you give upon arrival at the port of entry to the United States. Always print your I-94 each time you arrive back in the United States and carry it with you when traveling. When you enter the United States by land, you’ll receive a paper I-94. Keep this with your passport.


As an F-1 student, you may not work on or off campus without appropriate authorization. Click for further details.

Transfers and Leaving Northeastern

If you plan to transfer to another academic institution, the Transfer Out Form has specific instructions for students who are transferring from Northeastern University to another institution. Once you graduate, your F-1 visa allows you a 60-day grace-period after completion of your studies to prepare for your return home.