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.


Who must file tax forms for 2020 tax season?
Even if you did not earn any income, if you were physically in the US on F or J status anytime between 1 January – 31 December 2020, you're obligated to file a Form 8843 with the IRS (the Internal Revenue Service, or ‘IRS’, are the US tax authorities). 
Meanwhile, if you earned more than $0 of taxable US source income, you may need to file a federal tax return with the IRS. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may also need to file a state tax return(s). 

Tax Filing Deadline:
15 April 2021 is the last day for residents and nonresidents who earned US income to file Federal tax returns for the 2020 tax year.

Who is considered Resident or Nonresident for Federal Tax Purposes:
Generally, most international students & scholars who are on F, J, M or Q visas are considered nonresidents for tax purposes. International undergraduate students on J-1 & F-1 visas are automatically considered nonresident for their first five calendar years in the US, whilst Scholars/Researchers on J visas are automatically considered nonresidents for two out of the last six calendar years in the US. If you’ve been in the US for longer than the five or two year periods, the Substantial Presence Test will determine your tax residency.

How to File:
We have teamed up with Sprintax to provide you with an easy-to-use tax preparation software designed for nonresident students and scholars in the US. We (and all other university staff) are not qualified or allowed to provide individual tax advice.

After you login to Sprintax, you will be asked a series of questions about the time you have spent in the US over recent years. Sprintax will then determine your tax status. If it determines that you are a "nonresident alien" (NRA) for federal tax purposes, you can continue to use the software to respond to a series of guided questions. Sprintax will then complete and generate the tax forms you need to send to the tax authorities. 

However, if Sprintax determines that you are a resident alien for federal tax purposes, you won't be able to continue using the software.

Step by Step guide on How to File Your Nonresident Tax Forms (F and J)

  1. Gather the documents you may need for Sprintax.
  2. Create a Sprintax Account:
    You will receive an email from the international student office providing you with a link to Sprintax to set up your account as well as your unique code to use on Sprintax. This unique code will cover the costs of the federal tax return and 8843 at no cost to you. Open your new Sprintax account by creating a UserID and password or if you have an existing account on Sprintax you can login using your existing credentials.
  3. Follow the Sprintax instructions:
    If you did not earn any US Income: Sprintax will generate a completed Form 8843 for you and each of your dependents (if you have any).

    If you did earn US Income: Sprintax will generate your "tax return documents", including either a 1040NR-EZ or a longer form 1040NR, depending on your circumstances.

  4. (With U.S. income only) If required, complete your state tax return:
    After you finish your federal return, Sprintax will inform you if you need to complete a state tax return. If so, you will have the option to use Sprintax for an additional fee. However, it is your choice to use them or to do the state tax return on your own.

  5. Read the instructions for filing/mailing your returns:
    Remember to read the instructions that Sprintax provides. 
    You will be required to download, print and sign your federal tax return and mail it to the IRS. If you have a state filing requirement, you must also mail this to the tax authorities. 
    Finally, if you only need to file Form 8843, this will also need to be mailed to the IRS.

Need Sprintax Support?
If you need help while using Sprintax, you can contact their support team using the options below:
Email -
24/7 Live Chat Help
Refer to their FAQs

Sprintax Educational Tax Videos and Blog:
You also have access to the Sprintax YouTube account where there are a number of educational videos on nonresident taxes. These will provide further clarity on nonresident tax and how to use Sprintax. Sprintax also offer a range of useful content on their blog to help you file your return.

DISCLAIMER: Student Services, your international advisor, and the school are NOT permitted to assist any student/scholar with any IRS tax form preparation or tax related questions. The information provided is intended for your benefit. Any questions or concerns should be directed to Sprintax, a certified tax preparer or a local IRS field office.


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.