International Advising

COVID-19 Operational Changes

The staff of the Office of Student Services are currently working from home and will remain to do so until we are notified that we are able to return to campus. Although our physical office space is closed, you can still reach the staff by their email addresses or email to get any questions answered. We are still working standard business hours from home (Monday-Friday from 9:00-12:00 and 1:00-5:00 EDT.) As we are experiencing an increase in emails, please be patient for a response. We will get back to you as quickly as possible. Be safe and be creative.

We are the primary resource for international students studying in the United States.  Our knowledge of each individual’s academic and international status enables us to communicate with our students and faculty about additional considerations that arise for our international student population. We help international students acclimate to Boston and discover valuable resources within and outside the conservatory.

Students who utilize or interact with International Student Services will:

  • Take responsibility for maintaining their immigration status 
  • Comply with the immigration regulations of their  visa
  • Contribute to the culturally diverse NEC community
  • Develop awareness within the NEC community of its cultural diversity

We are located in the Office of Student Services, St. Botolph Rm 224. Your international advisor also serves as your academic advisor. Immigration regulations can be tricky to understand, so your advisor is the best resource to help answer your questions. Do not hesitate to email us or drop by.

Orchestra buddies
Resources for Current International Students

International Student Employment

International Students are limited in their ability to work in the United States. Entering the United States in an F-1 visa status means that your primary purpose in being here is to study. Therefore, any work permission which you may receive will be incidental to your participation in your academic program. Employment is automatically terminated when a student fails to maintain status.

It is crucial that you do not violate the terms of your student visa by working illegally. Department of Homeland Security regulations are very clear and strict in this area, and violating any of these regulations could lead to a loss of your visa or a possible visa denial in the future.

Listed below is a summary of 4 different ways you can work legally in the United States.


F-1 international students are allowed to work on-campus up to 20 hours per week during the semester, and up to 29 hours per week during school breaks.

You do not need any special permission from the Department of Homeland Security to pursue on-campus jobs. However, international students may only be hired for non-workstudy positions. These positions are not funded by the US government and are therefore open to all students. You may not work in a position which is designated workstudy.


CPT: Curricular Practical Training 

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) allows international students to work off-campus as part of their studio work. Students offered performance or supervised teaching opportunities (NOT private studio teaching), may request permission from their international advisor to pursue the work but must also obtain permission from their studio teacher as a part of their studio instruction during the semester or summer breaks.

For important details about this program, please see the International Student Handbook, the Curricular Practical Training Application Packet in the International Office and attached below, or speak with your International Student Advisor.

OPT: Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows international students a total of 12 months to work in the United States to gain practical experience in their fields of study. A job offer is not necessary for OPT approval and students may work for any number of employers as long as they are all in the field of music, and the total number of hours does not exceed the authorized limit.

Students may apply for full-time OPT after graduation. Most students choose to save their 12 months of OPT for after graduation so that they can extend their stay in the US for an additional year. Please note that there are special considerations to keep in mind when applying for a visa renewal on OPT. Please contact your international advisor to discuss your specific case.

Optional Practical Training is recommended by your International Student Advisor, but can only be authorized by the Department of Homeland Security. Applications are processed at the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service Center, and can take from 2-4 months for approval. Please plan accordingly, as you may NOT work until you have received approval.

Students may apply for an additional 12-month period of OPT if they complete a second advanced degree in the US (i.e., 12 months of OPT for a Bachelor's degree, and then 12 months of OPT for a Master's degree).

For more important information about this program, please see the Optional Practical Training Application Packet and speak to your international student advisor.

Economic Hardship 

Very rarely, the US government will authorize off-campus employment in the event of unforeseen changes in your financial situation due to circumstances outside of your control. Generally, these applications are only approved in such instances as currency devaluations, political unrest in your home country, or a drastic and unforeseen change in your family's employment. Please contact your international student advisor for more information about this application.

Other Resources

Social Security Numbers

The social security number is a government-issued identification number. This number is NOT a work permit. In fact, you are not eligible to apply for a social security number unless you have an offer of employment.

Most employers (including NEC) will not pay you without recording your social security number. If you have a job offer, you should pick up the Social Security Application Packet at the International Student Office (PDF below), and bring the completed form along with a signed employment offer and a letter of recommendation IN PERSON to the nearest Social Security Office.

Work Visa

Students interested in working in the United States after graduation may be eligible for a work visa. Generally, these visas require an employer sponsor and the assistance of an immigration attorney. Each spring the International Student Office invites an immigration attorney specializing in artists and musicians to provide an information session on work visas and green cards.


U.S. law requires that all persons file taxes each and every year, including international students and their dependents. You must file if you were physically present in the U.S. during the 2019 year, regardless of whether or not you earned income. The tax filing deadline is April 15, 2020. NEC has purchased Sprintax Tax Preparation  software this year, specifically for our international students. Sprintax will help you with Federal and Massachusetts taxes return. You will be provided with a Sprintax code through your NEC email some time in February/March. Please refer to this email for the code and Sprintax's Filing instructions.

Remember: Your International Advisors are NOT tax experts.

Tax Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I am an International Student, do I have to file US taxes?
A: Yes, all international students must file taxes even if they did not make money last year.

Q: How do I file my taxes?
A: NEC has purchased tax software just for international students called Sprintax. Use the registration guide and access code to prepare and file your taxes.

Q: Can my International Advisor help with tax questions?
A: No, your international advisors are F1 experts, NOT tax experts.

Q: Who can I turn to with tax questions?
A: Please contact Sprintax with your questions. Once registered for an account, they have a 24/7 chat feture to help answer all of your questions.

Q: I received a Form MA 1099-HC, what is this?
A: This is proof that you have health insurance. All residents of Massachusetts must have health insurance. You will need this form to file your taxes.

Q: When Must I Complete and Submit my Tax Return?
A: April 15.

Q: What is a Tax Return?
A: In the US, federal and state income taxes are prepaid by each employer based on the “estimate” of tax liability indicated at the start of employment by the employee on the Form W-4. Since the withholding is only an estimate, employees are given an annual opportunity to reconcile the amount of tax withheld with how much was owed. The name of the form on which the reconciliation is made is called the “tax return”. The federal tax return must be submitted to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the state tax return must be submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue and/or the state agency in any other US state where you have received income in a givenyear. In some cases, the tax return results in a refund because the tax withholding was higher than necessary. In other cases, a taxpayer did not have enough tax withheld throughout the year and may need to send a payment to the IRS with the tax return. Occasionally, the total taxes withheld match the amount due, so no money is due by either the taxpayer or the IRS.

Disclaimer: Information presented on this page is for general information and is not intended to be, nor should it be construed as, legal tax advice. While NEC International Student Services has arranged for the services of Sprintax, international students can choose how they wish to complete and submit tax forms, as it is the individual's responsibility to meet all tax filing obligations. International students are encouraged to follow Sprintax instructions to prepare federal and state forms online and/or consult the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), local and state tax agencies, and tax professionals for advice and guidance regarding their individual tax situations.

2020-2021 International Student Handbook

Our International Student Handbook contains all of the F-1 visa immigration regulations as well as useful information about traveling, the visa process, and academic expectations here at the Conservatory.

International Student Handbook

2020-2021 International Handbook Cover with people outside of Jordan Hall
Resources for Incoming International Students

All applicants who are not U.S. citizens and need student visa sponsorship from NEC are required to submit proof of full funding for at least 1 year before an I-20 Form (for application to receive an F-1 student visa) will be issued. Please see the Certificate of Finances below to learn the exact amounts you will need to show. Certification of finances can come from several different sources, including personal or family funds, foundation grants or scholarships, and/or scholarship assistance from NEC. Verification (usually in the form of a bank statement) is required for all funds. If you are using a sponsor to meet the full amount, you will also need to submit the Sponsor Letter of Financial Support found below.

Spring 2020 Certificate of Finances

Certificate of Finances

An exterior photo of the Student Life and Performance Center, with the words New England visible and blue sky and clouds visible in the building's reflective windows.

Sponsor Letter of Financial Support

Sponsor Letter

Eben Tourjee Profile
Other Resources

Below are some other resources international students might find helpful.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Packet


A closeup of a pianist's hands playing, with a close view of the piano keys.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) Packet


A closeup of a musician's hands playing saxophone.

Social Security Number Application Packet

SSN Application

A closeup of a musician's hands playing violin.