International Advising

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
F-1 Visa Process And Traveling to Boston

NEC sponsors international students through the F-1 visa, which is for students who have been accepted for full-time academic study at educational institutions in the US.

You are eligible for the I-20 visa sponsorship form after you have paid the tuition deposit and provided International Student Services with appropriate financial documentation. The I-20 is not a visa. It serves as verification from NEC that you are expected to attend the Conservatory as a full-time student. You must have this form to apply for your visa.

Obtaining your Visa

To obtain your visa, you should go to the nearest US embassy or consulate in your home country. Check the State Department website (https://www.travel.state.gov) for specific information about embassy business hours and procedures as these can vary in different countries.

If this is your first student visa application, you will be responsible for paying the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee. This is a $350 fee that is used to fund the web-based tracking system of all student and exchange visitors. For additional information on paying this fee, or to find out if you are exempt, visit the SEVIS fee website at https://www.fmjfee.com.

You should bring the following documents to your interview:

  • Your passport
  • Your SEVIS fee receipt
  • Your I-20 form
  • Proof of financial support (i.e. bank statements, affidavit of support, etc.)

If everything is in order, the immigration official will grant you the visa, and place the visa on one of the pages of your passport. Once you have received the visa, you are legally permitted to enter the US as a student.

While the majority of our students have no difficulty obtaining student visas, there are instances when a student with the right documents listed above will be denied. The most common reason for student visa denial is that the immigration official is not convinced the student plans to return to their home country. Remember: student visas are not granted as a step toward permanent residency in the United States. The best way to prove that you intend to return to your home country is by demonstrating strong family ties there. Again, our students are rarely denied visas, but if you experience any difficulty you should ask for a written reason for the denial and contact International Student Services immediately.

Coming to the United States

When entering the United States, you will pass through an immigration area. Your passport, visa and other documents will be officially reviewed. You should have the following documents with you; do not check them with your baggage:

  • Your passport
  • Your visa
  • The I-20 form
  • Proof of financial support (i.e. bank statements, affidavit of support, etc.)

Immigration Forms:

I-20 FORM:

DO NOT LOSE YOUR I-20 FORM. You will receive your own personal admission number on the Form I-20. No one else will receive this number. It will be entered into the SEVIS computer files so that DHS will have a record of your stay in the US. All of your immigration records will be filed under this number; for your own records and safety, you should record this number and keep it separate from your I-20 form.

Transfer students: You may remain in the US on an F-1 visa from another school provided that you transfer your visa sponsorship to NEC. To do this, you must have your previous school release your SEVIS record to New England Conservatory. You will then be issued a “transfer I-20” from NEC, which you may use for travel even if the unexpired visa stamp in your passport is from another school. You must report to your International Student Advisor within the first two weeks of the semester to complete the transfer process.

I-94 FORM AND “DURATION OF STATUS:”

When you travel into the US, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers will review your documents and will indicate the length of time you are permitted to stay in the US and what status you have entered the US CBP will issue you an I-94 number associated with your SEVIS record. If traveling by land, the I-94 will be a white card to be stapled into your passport. If traveling by air or sea, the 1-94 will be stamped into your passport as well as online at https://www.cbp.gov/I-94. Please be sure to check both the stamp and your online record to ensure that the information matches.

You will probably be admitted to the US for “duration of status.” This means that there is no specific date by which you must leave the US Instead, you are allowed to remain in the US as long as you maintain your student status with a valid I-20, remain enrolled full-time, and make progress toward your degree or diploma. The CBP officer will mark “D/S” (duration of status) in your passport as well as your visa type (F-1, F-2, J-1, O-1, etc). The online record at https://www.cbp.gov/I-94 will also state the information provided on the stamp in your passport. You should confirm that the stamp and the online record match and provide a copy of both to your International Advisor. If the records do not match or there is wrong information on it, see International Student Services immediately.

Customs

Before you land, you will receive customs declaration and immigration forms. Fill these out on the plane, and then submit them to the appropriate US customs authorities after you have landed. If you do not understand the form, ask your flight attendant for assistance.

You will pass through the immigration area, collect your baggage and then go through customs. A customs inspector will ask you to declare what you have brought into the country, inspect your bags, and review the forms you filled out on the plane. Penalties for concealing declarable items can be very severe, so be honest and make a full declaration. You may bring items for your personal use into the US without paying duty (import taxes). Technically, you are required to pay duty on any other items (such as gifts) not intended for your personal use. However, customs inspectors usually permit a few inexpensive gifts to enter the US duty-free. The individual customs inspector who inspects your baggage makes this determination.

You must declare the amount of money you have with you, but you do not have to pay any duty on it. Money in any amount may be brought into and taken out of the US, but anyone bringing more than $10,000 into the US must file a report with the customs official.

Coming to NEC

If you will be coming directly to NEC from the airport, you can take either a taxi-cab or the subway (called the “T”). If you have a lot of luggage, a cab will be easiest, but at approximately $45.00 for a one-way fare, will be considerably more expensive than the subway.

Logan International Airport is served by subway and bus routes operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (known as the MBTA or the “T”). You can take the Silver Line bus service to South Station. From there you can take a subway train on the Red Line Inbound to the Downtown Crossing stop. Here, you can switch to the Orange Line Outbound/Forest Hills train and get off at the Massachusetts Avenue stop. Exit the platform to your right, and NEC is one block up on your right.

 

Getting your I-20

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.

FALL 2021 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
Department of Homeland Security Regulations

You should direct all issues related to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to your International Student Advisor. Visa regulations change frequently, and may be different depending on your own situation so it is crucial that you get accurate information from the appropriate sources. Be familiar with https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/

The Boston USCIS office is located at the John F. Kennedy Building in Government Center. Student issues are addressed on the third floor. The telephone number for USCIS is (617) 565-3879. Visit the website at https://www.uscis.gov.

The following summary of USCIS regulations applies to all international students who are in the United States on student visas.

Documents

PASSPORTS: 
Your passport, issued by your government, allows you to leave and re-enter your country. Your passport should always be valid at least six months into the future; if necessary you should have it re-validated by your country’s consulate six months before it expires. You can do this within the United States, but do not mail your passport to USCIS.

F-1 (STUDENT) VISA: 
This visa allows you to travel to the United States. The expiration date on your visa indicates the last day you can enter the United States. If the visa expires while you are studying in the United States, you do not have to get a new visa until you leave; however you must have it renewed before you may re-enter the US. 

You may obtain a visa only outside the United States at a US Embassy or Consulate. To qualify for the F-1 visa you must have an updated I-20 form from NEC.

Please note: If you are a Canadian student, you do not have to apply for a visa stamp at the US Embassy. Simply enter the US with your valid I-20 and Canadian passport.

THE I-94 WITH THE “D/S” STAMP:
You may remain in the US for as long as you maintain your student status, regardless of the expiration date on the visa in your passport. Please see page 4 for details on the I-94.

To remain in legal F-1 status, an international student must:

  • Have a valid passport, I-20 Form & I-94 Record
  • Register with Student Services and International Student Services at the beginning of each semester
  • Be a full-time student during both the Fall and Spring semesters; and
  • Participate in off-campus employment only with USCIS permission.

Full Time Status 

Students must be registered for full-time status during their entire period of study. Exceptions can only be made for medical reasons (with a doctor’s written explanation) or during a student’s last semester if they do not need full-time status to complete degree requirements.

Travel

TRAVEL ENDORSEMENTS:
If you are traveling outside the US I-20 forms must be validated every 6 months, or once per semester. You must see your International Student Advisor well in advance (at least one week prior to departure) since it may take time to prepare your I-20 Form.

Students who fail to obtain the endorsement signature must have the I-20 Form sent to them in their home country and will be charged for any express mail services. Traveling without a properly endorsed I-20 form may result in a fine and a 30-day entry into the US.

If you leave the United States, make sure you have the following items in your possession:

  • Your passport valid for at least six months after your return to the U S.
  • A valid F-1 visa
  • An endorsed I-20 Form
  • Documentation of financial support.

Travel to Canada: Contact the Canadian Consulate General to see if citizens from your home country are required to obtain a Canadian tourist visa. (Canadian Consulate General, 1251 Avenue of the Americas, 22nd fl., New York, NY 10020-1175), or visit the website at https://www.canadianembassy.org.

Employment

There are many regulations around employment for F-1 students. We have dedicated an entire section to it below. Please be sure to read all the employment regulations before arriving on-campus.

Program Extensions/Reinstatement of Status

EXTENSION OF STAY:
All international students are expected to complete their program before the expiration date noted on their I-20. This period is four years for non-transferring undergraduates and two years for non-transferring graduate students. Any student who is unable to complete their program before the expiration of their I-20 must request an extension of stay BEFORE the expiration date noted on the I-20 form. Extensions of stay are granted for legitimate academic problems, changes of major or program, or officially documented medical reasons.

Students may only apply for an extension of stay if they have continuously maintained F-1 status. A student who is unable to complete a program by the date of completion indicated on the I-20 Form because of suspension or academic probation must apply for reinstatement (see below). Requests for extensions may be done in Student Services through your Academic and International Student Advisor.

REINSTATEMENT OF STATUS:
Students who fall out of status must apply for reinstatement of status through USCIS. Students who need program extensions due to academic probation and/or suspension must also apply for reinstatement of status through USCIS. Students who fail to maintain their status may be denied re-entry to the US. Students are eligible for reinstatement if:

  • The student intends to pursue a full-time course of study;
  • The student has not engaged in unauthorized employment; and
  • The student is not deportable,
  • The circumstances for not completing a program were beyond their control
  • The failure to receive reinstatement would result in extreme hardship

To apply for reinstatement of status, submit Form I-539 (available in the Office of Student Services) and a new I-20 Form to the USCIS service center in Vermont.

SEVIS: Student Exchange Visitor Program

The Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is an international database that stores information on all F-1/F-2 visa holders. Since both the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department have access to this database, it is crucial that the students keep their records updated and accurate. Failure to do so will result in invalidation of the student visa, which may lead to deportation or a ban on re-entering the United States. 

The most important thing to remember about your SEVIS record is that you must be in constant communication with your International Student Advisor.

Please see the table below for a listing of activities that must be reported to your International Student Advisor and the deadlines for reporting:

ACTIVITY REPORTING DEADLINE
Check-In/SEVIS Registration Within 2 weeks of beginning each semester
Change of Address Within 10 days of move
Change of Program/Major Before change becomes effective
Request to Drop Below Full-Time Upon receipt of Dean's Approval
Withdrawal from Program Before effective withdrawal date
CPT: Curricular Practical Training At least 7 days before employment begins
OPT: Optional Practical Training (pre-completion) 8-11 weeks before employment start date
OPT: Optional Practical Training (post-completion) 8-11 weeks before employment start date
OPT: Employment/Address Updates Within 10 days of the change of employment or address
Program Extension Before end date on I-20

 

Employment 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.

On-Campus

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.

YOU MAY NOT WORK OFF-CAMPUS WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION. (See CPT and OPT below)

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 Employment 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.

Taxes

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 - hello@sprintax.com
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.

 

Studying in the US

US Classes

Deciding to attend college in the US is a big change in your life. It will be highly rewarding but also challenging. There are many cultural differences and small day-to-day changes that you will need to make to be successful. Throughout each semester you will be expected to meet the high musical and academic standards of NEC. Even if you have prior experience of studying in an US institution, international school, or previous college years, there will be many things about NEC that will be different.

There are two semester periods at NEC-Fall (August-December) and Spring (January-May). You are expected to meet with your Academic Advisor, register for courses, attend every class, complete your required assignments, and sit for all required exams. Your academic classes will change every semester based on your program requirements and appropriate level. Some classes will be performance-based while others will be focused on critical-thinking skills and analysis. To be successful at NEC, you will have to balance many different styles of classes and use various study skills in every class.

Grades and Attendance

Grades are very important for your success at NEC. A student’s grades receive considerable attention when applying for scholarships, fellowships, graduate programs, and sometimes jobs. The US grading system is different from many countries and can be confusing. You will receive an Academic Catalog at Orientation that explains the NEC grading policies. If you have any questions, be sure to ask your teachers and your Academic Advisors.

Attendance is very important in the US Classroom. You are expected to attend all classes and participate in the classroom discussions. This will earn you points towards your final grade in the class.

On the first day of classes, you will receive a syllabus from your teacher in every class. This syllabus is a contract between you and the teacher that outlines all of the work expected for the entire semester. It will include all of the required readings, what you will be studying, all assignments, and all tests. Read it carefully. It is your job to make sure that you understand the information and you meet all course requirements.

International students sometimes struggle with assignments, particularly if they involve significant reading or writing. Teachers are very understanding of these difficulties but expect for you to ask for help when you need it! They will work with you and help you to find a tutor. NEC has a great Writing Center on campus that provides individual tutoring for you to work on your writing skills. All students use this resource, not just international students, and find it to be very helpful.

For a complete description of the grading system, see the Academic Catalog.

Academic Advice

You are encouraged to:

  • Ask questions! Don’t hesitate to ask questions of your teacher either during or after class.
  • Ask for extra help from teaching assistants, tutors, or teachers.
  • If you find it helpful, ask teachers if you may record lectures. Then you can listen to the lecture again and insure that you have understood the material.
  • Take notes, not only during lectures, but also for readings, essays, and homework assignments. When reading required materials use a marking pen or highlighter to identify important points.
  • Ask your teacher to identify important information, such as study questions, either in handouts or on the blackboard.
  • Ask for help with essays.
  • Use the NEC Writing Center.
  • Communicate with your Academic Advisors throughout the year.

English Language Requirements

NEC requires a certain level of English competency from non-native speakers of English. We use the TOEFL exam to determine your level of English proficiency. English proficiency can affect your ability to enroll in certain academic classes with the music history and liberal arts departments. Please consult the Academic Catalog and your Academic Advisor for more details.

All graduate and undergraduate international students who have earned a TOEFL score of at least 88 at the time of enrollment will be exempt from the Intensive English program and ESL courses at NEC. Please ask your Academic and International Student Advisor for your exact placement.

 

Living in the US

Housing

NEC RESIDENCE HALL:
All undergraduate students live in the NEC Residence Hall the first 4 semesters of enrollment at NEC. Other students live in the Residence Hall as space permits. Approximately 30% of the Residence Hall is made up of international students.

Each of the floors has a resident advisor to help students. One is always available in the evenings and during the weekend. The Director of Residence Life and Housing is available weekdays between 9:00am and 5:00pm.

The Residence Hall has a number of student activities throughout the year including ice cream socials, movies, speakers and group discussions.

OFF-CAMPUS HOUSING:
The Off-Campus Housing Guide is available on-line through the Student Life link at
https://necmusic.edu/off-campus-housing. This guide provides important information about pricing, neighborhoods, real estate agents and leases.

Outside listings for apartments or persons seeking roommates appear daily in the Boston Globe, and the Boston Herald and weekly in the Boston Phoenix. On-line listings can also be found at https://boston.craigslist.org/ and https://www.bostonapartments.com.

Please note that New England Conservatory neither accepts nor creates any responsibility for the reliability of the information that is provided from these sources. Students must accept responsibility for contacting, negotiating, or communicating with rental agents, property owners, potential roommates, or others listed in the off-campus housing information at any time before, during, or after any off-campus housing agreement.

Transportation

Boston is a pedestrian friendly city and NEC is located right near the center of it all. Bikes are hugely popular in Boston, and the city just opened a bike share program at https://www.bluebikes.com/. Students are cautioned to be aware of their surroundings while traveling through the city and watch out for car, bike, bus, and pedestrian traffic.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION:
The MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority)-a system of subways and buses-operates between 5:30am and 1:00am. Stations link Boston and surrounding suburbs. There are many kinds of passes that are subway-only to combo passes for transportation on the city’s entire network of subways, buses, and commuter trains. For information, maps, and schedules, visit the MBTA online at http://mbta.com. NEC offers discounted MBTA Link passes at https://necmusic.edu/t-pass-program. Passes must be ordered in advance of each semester. Students living on or very close to campus probably do not need a T-Pass and would be better advised to purchase a pay-as-you-go Charlie Card upon arrival to Boston.

DRIVING IN BOSTON:
The Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) provides a list of approved international driver’s licenses at https://www.massrmv.com/rmv/forms/21317.pdf. If on the list, you are permitted to drive in the US with your foreign driver’s license and 1-94 record for 1 year after each time you arrive in the US If you wish to obtain a Massachusetts’s Drivers License, you may do so by passing the written test and road examination at the RMV. Check their website https://www.mass.gov/rmv for more information.

EXPLORING GREATER BOSTON AND BEYOND:
Boston is a great city but sometimes you want to get out! You can easily get to the airport for flights, to North or South Station for Amtrak trains, or find inexpensive bus routes to New York City, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and New England. You can also rent a car for short-term travel of a few hours to several days. Check out Zipcar.com for a popular car sharing company which allows foreign drivers to sign up.

Medical Insurance and Health Care

Medical Insurance:
In the United States, medical care is not publicly funded; patients must either have full medical insurance or pay the costs - often quite high - themselves. The US government therefore requires all students to have comprehensive medical health insurance policies.

Due to Massachusetts state health care regulations and NEC policy, all international students are required to enroll in the New England Conservatory Student Health Insurance plan through Gallagher Student Health Insurance. For more details about this plan, please visit https://necmusic.edu/student-health-insurance-plan.

International students must also purchase health insurance for spouses or children accompanying them to the United States. Dependents are not automatically included in the individual health plan. There will be an additional charge for dependents’ insurance.

THE NEC HEALTH AND COUNSELING CENTER:
The NEC Health and Counseling Center provides licensed medical and psychological care to all NEC students. A doctor and nurse practitioners are on site to provide basic and preventative care. A staff of trained mental health professionals is available by appointment. All counseling services are free of charge, private and confidential.

The NEC Health and Counseling Center is located in Room 112 at the 241 St. Botolph Street Building. To schedule an appointment with the Health and Counseling Center, call (617) 585-1284.

Banking Accounts and Cell Phones

BANKING:
One of the first things you should do after your arrive in the United States is establish a bank account. It is not a good idea to carry large amounts of cash or keep it in your living quarters.

It is relatively simple to open a bank account in the US. However, you should remember that banks are private businesses. Each offers different services and each wants your business. You should check with several banks to determine which one best meets your needs. During Orientation Central there will be representatives from local banks available to open accounts.

PHONE:
It is highly encouraged to purchase a US cell phone within the first few weeks of your program. Some cell phone carriers will require a social security number to activate the plan, so be sure to shop around as needed. Common carriers are AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, TMobile, and Virgin Mobile. You may also want to check with current students for recommendations on coverage, rates and benefits.

Legal Rights and Protections

LEGAL RIGHTS AND PROTECTIONS OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS IN THE US:
International Student Services assists international students in understanding and fulfilling their legal obligations while they are in the US. The staff is not responsible for enforcing immigration law, but is responsible for reporting any violation of student status through the SEVIS system. In case of any problem with immigration or other US laws, students should contact the International Student Services immediately. If the situation warrants it, the student may be referred to a private attorney for expert help and advice.

International students must maintain the student status under which a visa was granted. They must also observe immigration requirements and obey immigration laws and regulations. Recent changes in immigration laws make it imperative that each student stays in status by enrolling full-time and not working illegally. Students who fail to register with the International Student Services at the beginning of each semester may be terminated from the USCIS database (SEVIS). Breach of immigration status could result in revocation of your student visa and a ban on entering the United States for the foreseeable future.

Students who violate NEC’s rules face suspension or dismissal. For international students, that would mean the loss of student status. Therefore, although an international student cannot be deported for disobeying Conservatory rules, the possible loss of student status might lead to deportation. Similarly, if a sponsored student violates the regulations of the sponsoring agency, the agency might withdraw visa sponsorship, thereby putting the student in jeopardy.

PRIVATE AND IMMIGRATION ATTORNEYS:
There are times when NEC students will require the assistance of an immigration attorney to resolve issues or to apply for different visas. Students can consult with their International Student Advisor to determine if an attorney is required. Students should choose their attorney carefully based on their specific needs and make sure that the attorney is registered with the American immigration Lawyers Association (https://www.aila.org). International Student Services will host immigration attorneys on campus throughout the year to educate students on visas options in addition to the F-1 visa.

Books and Music

There are several music stores in the Boston area. NEC students often use the
stores listed below:

Books and scores for all NEC courses may be obtained at Music Espresso.

Music Espresso
(The Music Store at NEC)
33 Gainsborough Street,
1st Floor, Boston
(617) 424-9322

Carl Fischer of Boston
156 Boylston Street,
Boston
(617) 426-0740

Yesterday Music Service
1906 Massachusetts Avenue,
Cambridge
(617) 547-8263

Other Resources

Below are some other resources international students might find helpful.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Packet

CPT

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

Optional Practical Training (OPT) Packet

OPT

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.