Bunker Hill Community College

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International Students FAQ’s for Fall 2020

As of today, the guidance issued by Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) in March 2020 is in effect. This guidance permits current/continuing F-1 students who have an active I-20 (SEVIS record) to take more than one online classes during the COVID-19 emergency and maintain F-1 status. On Friday, June 24, 2020, new updated FAQs were issued to guide advisors in providing assistance to our students. 

BHCC makes every effort to communicate the plans for the Fall semester with the community. Please visit BHCC website (www.bhcc.edu) and access this information online:

Fall 2020 Course Delivery Information: https://www.bhcc.edu/studentcentral/academicrecords/fall2020coursedeliveryinfo/

College Reopening Plans: https://www.bhcc.edu/coronavirus-info/collegereopening/

Important Contacts and Hours: https://www.bhcc.edu/coronavirus-info/importantcontactsandhours/

FAQ: BHCC Response to Coronavirus: https://www.bhcc.edu/coronavirus-info/faqbhccresponsetocoronavirus/, select Students Section

Currently, the International Center is providing services to our international students remotely from Monday to Friday during regular business hours.

We are available by phone, via Webex, or you can chat online with us as well every day.

To ensure the health and safety of all students, faculty, and staff, most Fall 2020 classes will be taught remotely through a few different course deliveries. For more information visit the Fall 2020 Course Delivery webpage.

All BHCC students registered for nine (9) or more credits for the fall semester will be charged the annual premium for health insurance. $3,045 will appear on your bill for the coverage period of September 1, 2020, through August 31, 2021.

For the current Covid-19 period, the Massachusetts Health Connector is allowing students to waive participation in SHIP if the Student is studying remotely in a foreign country or out of state and the Student has comparable coverage in that foreign location or state. Comparable coverage such as out-of-state Medicaid, out-of-state Exchange Marketplace coverage (i.e., Qualified Health Plans), out-of-state employer-sponsored insurance (e.g., HMO, PPO, POS), or foreign health coverages are acceptable for the Fall term. Waiver Deadlines: Waivers must be complete the same day you register. View link to the waiver form.

Health insurance waivers must be completed online the same day you register. View link to the waiver form

  1. Once at the BHCC/Gallagher homepage, click the "Student Waive" tab
  2. Create a username and password
  3. Click on the red “I Want to Waive” link

Questions? Contact Gallagher Student. Phone: 877-320-5277. You can also visit https://www.bhcc.edu/healthinsurance/ to learn more about health insurance.

BHCC has secured resources to support students in need. You can request assistance through the Mary L. Fifield Endowed Student Emergency Assistance Fund. View Information about eligibility and contact information to BHCC staff member .

DISH Food Pantry is open for assistance as well.

Our tuition and fees are approved by the Board of Trustees. Changes are made only with the approval of the Board and no discounts are being offered for the Fall semester 2020. Our College is not offering a separate in-state or out-of-state tuition for online/remote courses.

During the summer months, Advising & LifeMap is available to help students with selecting fall courses.  You can speak to an advisor by emailing advising@bhcc.edu  or by signing into MyBHCC (SelfService) to speak with an advisor via BHCC Chat.

By using the location filter in SelfService, students can select:

  • Charlestown Campus to see classes being offered on the Charlestown Campus
  • Chelsea Campus to see classes being offered on the Chelsea Campus
  • BHCC Online Courses to see online courses
  • Remote (campus location such as Charlestown Campus) to see courses that are remote.

Please note students need to read the detailed course description of a remote course to know if it is synchronous (students need to be present virtually at the course meeting time) or asynchronous (students will not need to be present at a specific meeting time).

Yes, Students can change their major at any time. Please contact an advisor in LifeMap (Advising@bhcc.edu ) to start the process. Once your major is changed, your International Student Advisor will issue you a new I-20 with the new major printed on page 1.

BHCC Students should be able to make normal progress in their program of study during the Fall semester 2020 independent of location. We offer close to 80% of our classes online or remotely. Please review information about Fall 2020 Course Delivery information online. If you anticipate difficulty in being able to complete a course you need to graduate (online or remotely) and you will not be present in the United States in the Fall semester, we recommend that you contact the department chair for assistance.

 Maintaining F-1 Status

Currently, SEVP will allow F-1 students to temporarily count online classes toward a full course of study in excess of the limits stated in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G) and 8 CFR 214.2(m)(9)(v), even if they have left the United States and are taking the online classes elsewhere.

Under current conditions, if an Active F-1 student leaves the United States and is enrolled full-time making normal progress in their program of study, their SEVIS record can remain in Active status.

Yes, if there are jobs on-campus students may work remotely or on-campus at BHCC if applicable. If the current on-campus employment opportunity has transitioned to remote work or employment can be done through remote means, students may continue to engage in on-campus employment remotely.

When jobs are available, they will be posted on BHCC’s GradLeaders

Under current guidance, the five-month temporary absence provision addressed in 8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(4) will not apply for students who were in Active status on March 9, 2020, and remain in Active status.

To maintain F-1 status students must enroll in a full course of study (12 credits) for the Fall 2020 semester. For questions regarding specific situations, please email your international student advisor.

Students may reside in the U.S. with a medical letter from a licensed doctor 8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(B). We have a handout that is very specific and the International Center will accept documentations only from doctors/providers in the Boston metropolitan area. The letter does not need to disclose your medical condition but must state what semester the doctor recommends that you take a medical leave and it must be signed by the doctor. Please contact your International Student Advisor for additional information.

Students should register as soon as possible. The first day of classes for the Fall 2020 semester is September 8, 2020. Students can adjust their schedule (add/drop) until September 14th. Please view the Academic Calendar for important deadlines to drop from Mini Session I/Web Late-Start (WBL)/ CSDL (LC). 

If you have less than a full time course load to graduate (less than 12 credits) you are eligible for a reduced course load 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(C).  Submit the Last Semester Status Application to your International Student Advisor by email and we will then validate that you only need those classes to graduate. You will then only need to take the classes required for graduation. 

Yes, you may concurrently enroll at another school. We would need proof that you are enrolled at another school and the Concurrent Enrollment form that your International Student Advisor can email to you. These courses should count toward your degree program at BHCC and you are required to submit an official transcript to BHCC after the courses are completed. 

You may take the semester off with a medical leave or by departing the U.S. before the fall semester begins. Please contact your International Student Advisor to discuss your specific situation.

An F-1 student who is currently maintaining status and making normal progress toward completing his or her educational objective, but who is unable to complete his or her course of study by the program end date on the Form I-20, must apply prior to the program end date for a program extension 8 CFR 214.2(f)(7)(i). Please complete and email your International Student Advisor the I-20 Extension Application which may be found on our website. We will then verify the courses you have left and extend your I-20 for up to one.  We will then email you the new extended I-20.

 Employment Authorization and Eligibility and other F-1 Related Benefits

If you are graduating in December 2020, we encourage you to attend one of the Work Authorization Virtual Workshops offered by the International Center during the Fall semester. The schedule of workshops will be shared in September.

You may be eligible for Post-Completion OPT, after you have completed one academic year and graduate from your program of study. You may apply up to 90 days before the program end date and up to 60 days after the program end date listed on the I-20. The application must be properly filed within 30 days of the date the student’s DSO recommends OPT in SEVIS.

You may request the OPT form with further details from your International Student Advisor.

Students are eligible to work off campus after completing one academic year of study. Off campus opportunities include Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), Post-Completion OPT, and Employment due to Severe Economic Hardship. Please contact your International Student Advisor to discuss which option you are eligible for. 

At this time, there are no on campus job opportunities for students due to restricted access to campus. When jobs are available, they will be posted here: https://www.bhcc.edu/gradleaders/

Yes, internships will be available for eligible students. Please send an email to your International Student Advisor to receive the eligibility requirements.

All the BHCC partners will be returning in the Fall. Most internships are going to be primarily remote, but some will be in person.  The Career Development & Internship Office will begin advertising the opportunities soon.  For the remote internships, The Career Development & Internship Office will be working with the internship sites, IT, and the foundation to support students and make sure you have the resources needed.  

If you are looking to apply for an internship, you can contact Eric Cabral the Internship Coordinator Eric.cabral@bhcc.edu.

Please also note you will complete the required paperwork with the Career Development & Internship Office and the International Center to authorize the employment.

According to SEVP’s FAQ issued on July 15, 2020, “Students currently participating in OPT, including STEM OPT, may work remotely if their employer has an office outside of the United States or the employer can assess student engagement using electronic means… See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii)(C)(9)(ii) for additional information.”

Yes, you can apply for a social security number if you have a job offer letter. Please contact your International Student Advisor for specific details on how to apply

Yes, here are the steps to obtain a License/Mass ID:

  1. Request signed letter from the International Center
  2. Go to Social Security Office and apply for the SSN with your passport, I-94, and I-20
  3. Receive the SSN or Denial Notice from the Social Security Office
  4. Bring all the documents to the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV)
  5. Submit an application for MA License or Mass ID

 Transfers

Yes, email your International Student Advisor at BHCC a copy of your acceptance letter with BHCC’s Transfer Request Form and we will release your SEVIS record to your new school. Please let your new school know that you are currently outside the U.S. so they can assist you further.

Currently, the five-month rule related to student transfers will not apply to students affected by COVID-19.

Email a copy of your acceptance letter to your International Student Advisor at BHCC with BHCC’s Transfer Request Form and we will release your SEVIS record to your new school on the date specified by you. 

If you are currently in Active Status and have not graduated you must request to have your SEVIS record transferred to your new school before your the new school’s term begins or by the first day of the Fall 2020 semester at BHCC, September 8, 2020. 

 International Travel

We do not know how long the COVID travel restrictions will last and what additional countries may be added or removed from the restrictions already in place. If you are concerned that you may not be able to return to the U.S., you may want to reconsider your travel plans. If you decide to travel and have carefully researched your plans, be prepared, understand the risks, and be advised you might not be able to return to the U.S. before the semester starts on September 8.

Things to consider:

  • Essential travel: Is your travel this essential, for example, health or family related reasons?
  • Risks: Are you comfortable with the travel risks, both health risks, and reentry to the U.S. for the fall semester?
  • Visas: Do you require a new F-1 visa? If yes, consider the U.S. consulate closures and visa delays.
  • Travel restrictions: Are you traveling to a country with current travel restrictions? Be prepared for quarantines and limited flights or additional restrictions that may impact your return to the U.S.
  • S. immigration rules: Exceptions were made to the online enrollment rules to keep SEVIS records active and I-20s valid for spring and summer, but we are waiting for further guidance about what they will allow for the fall semester. If you are unable to return to the U.S. for fall, consider the disruption to your immigration record and future benefits if the U.S. government does not allow the continuation of your SEVIS record. 
  • Please take into consideration that as of August 1, 2020, Massachusetts required all travelers to follow new COVID-19 travel orders published online at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-travel-order.

Send your International Student Advisor an email requesting a travel signature. In your email to the advisor, indicate your specific travel dates and if your visa is still valid.  All travel signatures are processed electronically at this time.  According to the July 24, 2020 FAQ released by SEVP, “Forms I-20 issued electronically or with electronic signatures—as permitted during the COVID-19 emergency—will remain valid until students have a need for an updated Form I-20.”

According to the most recent information released by travel.state.gov:

“…the Department of State temporarily suspended routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates may now enter a phased resumption of visa services. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services and will resume routine visa services as local conditions and resources allow.”

Individuals interested in the operations of a particular post should contact that embassy or consulate directly.  Contact information for embassies and consulates worldwide is available at usembassy.gov.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/suspension-of-routine-visa-services.html#:~:text=As%20resources%20allow%2C%20embassies%20and,local%20conditions%20and%20resources%20allow.&text=Contact%20information%20for%20embassies%20and,is%20available%20at%20usembassy.gov.

Yes, you should be aware of current travel restrictions.

On July 16, 2020, the U.S. Department of State issued the statement that certain nationals from Schengen countries, the United Kingdom and Ireland may travel into the US even as presidential proclamations are in effect. Students from these counties traveling to the US do not need to seek national exception to travel.

(Source: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/national-interest-exceptions-from-certain-travelers-from-the-schengen-area-uk-and-ireland.html?fbclid=IwAR1J5JE6RVipta1o1FV4LunnqVwoe5RMc5t9n-PmUCTAPibauzSzyEZQuF8)

On Friday, July 17, 2020, a CBP officer confirmed that Logan Airport has not received any updates about the national interest exceptions. We share this with you and advise that travel from Schengen countries is still risky now. 

Travel to the US from Canada: Current restrictions to essential travel apply only to land borders only; no such restrictions to air travel. 

Schengen Area countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland

Yes, if you are in your home country, the embassy or consulate is open, and you have the required documents to apply for the visa you may schedule an appointment to apply for a visa.

Contact information for embassies and consulates worldwide is available at usembassy.gov

No, you can only apply for a US visa at a Consulate or Embassy in your home country or a third country. You cannot apply for a new visa in the United States.