Frequently Asked Questions

Please read the International Guide to Admissions for specific information.

Evidence of English proficiency is required for all international students whose native language is not English. If applicants are already in the U.S., they can demonstrate English proficiency by taking the BHCC Placement Test instead of the TOEFL or IELTS. Students who cannot take the BHCC Placement Test must take the TOEFL, and obtain at least 423 on the written test and 38 on the TOEFL iBT. Alternatively, students might take the IELTS and obtain a score of at least 5.
For more information on the TOEFL visit www.toefl.org
For more information on the IELTS visit www.ielts.org

We estimate that it will cost approximately $20,500 per academic year (nine months) for an international student to attend BHCC, which includes living expenses as well as tuition and fees.

Yes. We suggest that you communicate with the prospective student and obtain the secondary school diploma, the TOEFL score report and all personal information included in the application form. You can then complete the application process on behalf of the student and follow up directly with the International Center staff.

It is a state law that all full-time students must submit proof that they have been properly immunized. You will have a one-semester grace period to obtain all required immunizations and/or to show proof that you have all of the necessary immunizations. The International Center can refer you to clinics where you can obtain the required immunizations at a low cost.

The I-20 form. The I-20 is required for all students on a F-1 student visa, and it is the document that enables students outside of the U.S. to apply for a student (F-1) visa. Submit the completed I-20 application form, the affidavit of support form and a financial statement that proves that a minimum of $20,500 in U.S. dollars is available to support your study in the U.S. If you are already in the U.S., you should also submit a copy of your U.S. visa (the stamp in your passport) and I-94 form (the small white card given to you on the airplane before you arrived in the U.S.). The International Center will then issue the I-20.

Make an appointment for a visa interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. It is strongly recommended that you go to the Embassy or Consulate in your country of citizenship. During the interview, submit your passport, your I-20 form, the affidavit of support from your sponsor and your financial documentation, which should demonstrate you and your family's strong "ties to the home country." You should also submit the letter of admission from BHCC and the Profile of BHCC. Be prepared to answer questions about your reasons for studying in the U.S. and your plans to return home after you complete your studies. If your documents are in order and your responses to questions meet the interviewer's expectations, you will be issued a visa in your passport.

Try to find out why you were denied so that you can address the interviewer's concerns and apply again. If you are missing some documentation, you can obtain it and apply again.

1) They can't describe why they selected the college and the program of study that they did. 2) They can't give evidence of the fact that they intend to return to their home countries upon completion of their program of study. Be prepared to answer questions of this type, and take whatever evidence you have that supports your case. If you are denied, contact the International Student advisors for advice and assistance.

It is now extremely difficult to change from a B-2 tourist status to a F-1 student status. If you have a tourist visa, we recommend that you obtain the I-20 from BHCC, and then return home to apply for the F-1 visa. It is now almost as difficult to change your status here in the U.S. as it is to get a visa, and the process is much longer, more complicated, and you are more likely to be denied. Please meet with the staff of the International Center as soon as possible if you believe that you want to change from a tourist status to student status. For other visa types (J-1, J-2, H-4, etc.), you will need to apply to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. You must make an appointment with an International Center advisor to prepare the application, for which BCIS (INS) charges a fee of $120. You must submit the application to BCIS before your I-94 card (or previous status) expires. Note that if your change to F-1 status is approved, you have the F-1 visa status but you do not have an F-1 entry visa, and you cannot obtain this while in the U.S. However, you do not need an entry visa until the next time you plan to leave and re-enter the U.S. At that time, you must apply to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of citizenship (you cannot get your first F-1 visa in a different country). Consult the International Center staff for assistance in compiling all necessary documents, since it will be critical that you prove “ties to your home country.”

You can’t. A visa waiver is given to citizens of particular countries so that they do not have to apply for a visa. Therefore, when you have a waiver you have no visa, and you cannot change a visa if you do not have one. There are no alternatives available to you except to leave the U.S. before the expiration date on your visa waiver, and apply for a student visa from your home country.

Talk to an International Center advisor and get his/her signature on your I-20 form. Check whether you need a new F-1 visa to return to the U.S. You may need to fill out some other forms, too, depending on the nature of your emergency and when you plan to return.

Confirm that your visa in your passport is still valid. Ask an International Student advisor to sign your I-20 form.

Don't worry. The visa stamped in your passport is an entry visa, and need only be valid for entry into the U.S. You can remain in the U.S. legally as long as your passport is valid, as long as you are continuing to make good progress toward your degree, and as long as the date indicated as your expected completion date on your I-20 has not passed. However, the next time you choose to leave the U.S., you will need to go to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply for a new entry visa.

Talk to an advisor at the International Center. If they feel you would benefit from consulting an immigration lawyer, they will try to get you some free or inexpensive legal advice, and can recommend some very good lawyers.

The Diversity Lottery is usually held every October. Check with the International Student advisors for more details.

Class for the fall semester start in early September. Spring classes start in mid-January. Summer classes start in early June. Try to arrive in Boston at least two weeks before classes begin to get oriented, find housing, take the BHCC placement test and get registered.

The CPT will test you on your reading, writing and math abilities. It is an un-timed test, so be sure to take your time so that your initial placement is as accurate as possible.

A credit is the reward or point you get for completing a course. Most BHCC courses are for three credits. BHCC associate degree programs average 61 credits, and when you complete the number of credits required for your degree, you will graduate. In order to maintain legal status as a student on a student (F-1) visa, you must enroll in at least 12 credits in the fall and spring semesters. Enrollment is not required during the summer.

If you took the classes in the U.S. you should submit official transcripts to the Enrollment Center. If you took classes overseas, you will need to use an agency that evaluates foreign credentials. We recommend the Center for Educational Documentation. You can contact them at 617-338-7171.

Yes. Class participation is an important part of American college life. You can't participate if you are not in class. Please be sure to read your course syllabus carefully to learn the teacher's policy toward attendance since some professors will reduce your grade if you are often absent or late to class.

Please note that new regulations allow F-1 students to take a maximum of ONE course that is considered “distance learning” each semester. This includes courses of these types: web, home studies, TV. Center for Self-Directed Learning classes are not considered “distance learning,” so there is no limit.

Yes. As an international student, you must enroll for at least twelve credits in the fall and spring semesters. You must also complete these classes - see the section below about the consequences of withdrawing from classes. You do not need to enroll for any courses in the summer.

Every student has an academic advisor. Whenever possible, students are assigned to advisors in their major fields. There is a list of advisors in the main lobby and in the C Building corridor. Review the catalog for your curriculum year, the master schedule for the upcoming semester and make an appointment to see your advisor. The sooner you see your advisor, the earlier you can register. When you register early, you do not have to pay until a date closer to the beginning of the semester. Therefore, it is to your advantage to register as early as possible so you will get the classes you want at convenient times. If the classes you want or need are full because you registered late, you must still take 12 credits, even if this means you take classes you do not need for your degree.

Go to the Center for Self-Directed Learning, Room E235 on the Charlestown Campus. Many international students take CLEP tests that allow them to get credit for their knowledge of other languages.

To begin the transfer process to another college in the United States, speak with the Transfer Counselor in Room B202 on the Charlestown Campus.

International students are not eligible for financial aid from federal and state government sources. Financial aid is only available for U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents who meet eligibility requirements. However, after you have been a student for one year you may apply for some very small scholarships ($250-$500). Check in the most recent College Catalog or with the International Student Advisors for more details.

No. You can sign up for the payment plan and make payments throughout the semester. The fee for this service is $35.00 per semester. See the Student Payment Office for more details.

The cost of medical care is very high in the U.S., and for this reason, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires that all full-time students buy medical insurance. If you have your own comprehensive U.S.-based health insurance, you can provide proof of insurance to the Student Payment Office and the charge will be taken off your bill. If you would like referrals to other health insurance companies, please see the International Student advisors. Although it may seem like a lot of money, health insurance is well worth the investment.

Students with F-1 visas are eligible to work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week. First, you must apply for a social security number through the Social Security Office. The International Center will give you a letter of introduction. Note that jobs on campus are extremely limited – especially for new students. Once you have been in lawful F-1 status for two non-ESL semesters, you can apply for off-campus work authorization from the USCIS. You can obtain advice and application forms from the International Student advisors. You must receive approval from the USCIS in the form of an Employment Authorization Document before you begin working.

The best place to start is in Student Activities, Room D106 on the Charlestown Campus. They offer more than 25 student-run clubs as well as leadership opportunities through the campus activities board and student government. International students who have been at BHCC for a while all recommend that new students get involved in campus life.

BHCC does not provide any on-campus housing. However, the International Center maintains resource information about housing in the Boston area. Housing in Boston is very expensive. Be prepared to pay between $500-1000 per month for adequate housing. These prices often do not include utilities and are based on the assumption that you will have a roommate. One way to immerse yourself in the American culture is to live with an American host family. You can apply by contacting Global Immersions at globalimmersions.com/hs_overview.html.

Probably. We currently have international students from about 90 countries and we have many more students who don’t have student visas but are citizens of other countries. Come to the International Center for assistance in finding students from your country.

Yes, Boston is cold – even for those who grew up here! The trick to staying warm is to dress in many layers and to keep your head, hands and feet warm and learn to enjoy winter sports! More hints on winter survival and living in Boston will be given during the orientation programs.

BHCC has professional counselors available to help you with personal, career and academic kinds of problems. If appropriate, they will also refer you to others in the community. All counseling is confidential. If you are uncomfortable going to another counselor, you should start by talking to one of the International Center advisors. They can help with many kinds of personal problems and they can talk about the other kinds of counselors that can help you.

See the Student Payment Office for details on the College health insurance. Our Coordinator of Health Services has information about the physicians and hospitals that participate in our insurance program. The International Center can also refer you to affordable community clinics.

Yes. Class participation is an important part of American college life. You can’t participate if you are not in class. Please be sure to read your course syllabus carefully to learn the teacher’s policy toward attendance since some professors will reduce your grade if you are often absent or late to class.

Yes. BHCC offers flexible scheduling. You can take classes in the day, evening, or weekend, at any of our campuses or satellite locations. You can also take courses via the World Wide Web and through our Center for Self-Directed Learning. There is free shuttle bus service between the Charlestown and Chelsea campuses.

Remember that you must be enrolled in 12 credits during the Fall and Spring semesters in order to maintain your F-1 visa. If you feel you need to withdraw from any of these courses, you must get direct authorization from an International Advisor BEFORE withdrawing, or you will be out of status. Please consult an International Student advisor if you feel registering for or completing 12 credits will be difficult for any reason. Also, please note that the International Center is required to immediately notify the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services when students drop below full time status without previous authorization from the International Student Advisor.

Get help as soon as you begin to think you might need it. You can receive tutoring free of charge in most subjects at the Tutoring and Academic Support Center. See your professors during their posted office hours for advice and assistance. Get help early; don’t wait until late in the semester.