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F-1 Visa and I-20 Information for International Students

F-1 and Form I-20 Information

This page provides information on how to apply for a Lesley Form I-20. The I-20 will allow you to apply for an F-1 student visa. Visit the US Department of State, Study in the States website for general information on the Form I-20 and F-1 compliance requirements.  

Please note that not all Lesley programs are I-20 eligible. Students must be accepted into a Lesley full-time, in-person program.  

The Lesley Admissions Counselor assists you with your application and academic related questions. Contact International Student Services at iss@lesley.edu with all F-1, I-20 and overall immigration questions. 

This page provides a general overview of the I-20 application process. The final review of I-20 eligibility happens after depositing and when the Lesley International Student Advisor reviews a completed I-20 request application.  

If you are currently in the US in a status other than F-1, please check with your immigration attorney to determine if your status allows you to study, work, or receive scholarship funds. You may also contact iss@lesley.edu for assistance. Simply being in the US may not necessarily mean that you are immediately eligible for an I-20.

The purpose of F-1 status is for “study in the US.” It is not for employment. F-1 regulations are extremely strict when it pertains to “any” off-campus activity including employment, internships, practicum, and fieldwork (paid or unpaid). All will require prior approval through issuance of a new I-20. Most of the Lesley internships are unpaid, and on-campus employment opportunities are limited. F-1 status students are not eligible for Federal Work-Study (FWS) on-campus jobs. Only US citizens or US permanent residents are eligible for FWS funds. Please note that most of the on-campus jobs are FWS jobs. Additionally, the Lesley University I-20 does not permit study outside of Lesley, including any online programs. Visit the Lesley University Financial Aid, Bills & Payments webpage for detailed costs.

Lesley Student Health and Dental Insurance is required by ALL students. To request a waiver, the student must first register for classes, then submit documentation to the Gallagher insurance provider that proves they have comparable insurance coverage from another source. Low-residency students will be required to have their own comparable insurance coverage during their brief low-residency periods on campus (which are typically less than 14 days) per year.

After a student is accepted into a Lesley I-20 eligible program and pays their enrollment deposit, they include financial documentation with their I-20 request form. The Lesley acceptance packet will contain both the I-20 request process and the international student estimate of expenses specific to the accepted program. Visit the Maintaining Legal F-1 Status section of our site to familiarize yourself with the F-1 compliance requirements. If you are a low-residency student, please refer to the below-mentioned low-residency section on this page for your requirements.

  • Lesley Low-Residency Programs

    Low Residency programs require minimal physical presence on campus of 5-14 days per year. Students requesting F-1 status to participate in a low residency program will only be issued a short-term I-20 for each residency period. The Lesley F-1 low residency student departs the US after each residency. F-1 low-residency students will not be eligible for any F-1 related benefits, including on-campus employment, Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT). Additionally, any low-residency program internship, practicum or thesis and dissertation research can only be done from outside of the US. If you are currently in the US, please note that Lesley does not support a Change of Status I-20 or a Transfer between F-1 schools I-20 for low-residency programs. 

    Switching between low-residency and traditional in-person programs: International students on the Lesley F-1 sponsorship might not be able to easily switch between low-residency and in-person programs. Feel free to contact Lesley International Student Services at iss@lesley.edu before you start you program to fully understand the ramifications or restrictions on switching between program modalities.

  • Graduate Certificate Programs

    Not all Lesley graduate certificate programs are Lesley I-20 eligible. Graduate certificate in-person course selection fluctuates on a per semester basis. For this reason, I-20 issuance is not a guarantee with a graduate certificate acceptance. The I-20 will only be issued to eligible students who will be able to fulfill the F-1 enrollment requirement for the requested I-20 program dates (of nine credits per semester, of which only 3 credits can be online). Please note that Lesley does not authorize Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training for graduate certificate programs. Post Completion Optional Practical Training (Post OPT) will only be considered for students who are eligible based on their previous F-1 immigration history. Lesley does not issue Change of Status or Reinstatement I-20s for graduate certificate programs. Contact iss@lesley.edu with any additional questions.

  • Licensing & Credentialing Information

    International students who are non-US citizens or US Permanent Residents: Please note that there is not a specific post-graduation immigration status to allow someone to fulfill their post-graduation professional licensure work requirements. Review the Lesley Licensure & Credentialing Information and discuss the option of completing all or part of your post-graduation licensure requirements from outside of the US with your Lesley academic advisor before starting your Lesley graduate program.

    • In addition, students on the Lesley F-1 sponsorship through a Lesley issued I-20, should also contact International Student Services at iss@lesley.edu to evaluate your eligibility for post-graduation work authorization. Since F-1 benefits are limited to per academic level, Lesley’s International Student Services will evaluate your previous US F-1 status history to determine your eligibility. In general, the F-1 student may be eligible to apply for twelve (12) months of optional practical training (OPT) work authorization if they have never used OPT in the past for a Master’s level educational program. If this is not possible or if the F-1 student needs more than 12 months to fulfill the licensure requirement, they may ask their US employer to sponsor them for the H-1B specialty work status. The H-1B sponsorship, however, has a cost for the employer and is subject to a limited annual cap for jobs in the for-profit sector. For these reasons, H-1B sponsorship is not guaranteed.
    • All other non-F-1 status students, check with your immigration attorney on the limitations of your US non-immigrant status. You may also contact iss@lesley.edu for an immigration attorney referral list.
  • F-1 SEVIS Transfer Between Schools

    If you are already in the US, maintaining legal F-1 status, including OPT or STEM OPT, and wish to transfer to the Lesley I-20 sponsorship, please contact iss@lesley.edu to schedule a zoom meeting to discuss your case. There are strict timelines associated with an F-1 SEVIS transfer between schools. The Lesley International Student Advisor will review your case for SEVIS Transfer eligibility. This transfer option only applies for students accepted into a Lesley full-time in-person program. It does not apply to Low Residency programs. 

  • B-1/B-2 or WB/WT

    B-1/B-2 or WB/WT tourist or business statuses do not permit study in the US, including Low Residency programs. If you are currently in the US in one of these statuses and wish to change to F-1 status, we urge you to contact iss@lesley.edu to discuss your case. There are two types of change of status I-20s. One will allow you to depart the US and apply for the F-1 visa from outside of the US. The other will allow you to submit a change of status petition to the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) while you remain in the US. The latter option, however, does not allow you to study while you wait. The change of status option only applies to students accepted into a Lesley full-time in person program. Lesley does not issue Change of Status I-20s for Low-Residency programs. 

    Once you are accepted into an I-20 eligible Lesley program, and have paid your enrollment deposit, complete this form.   

  • Exchange Student I-20s

    Lesley has issued one-semester Exchange Student I-20s with its partner schools in the past. These exchange programs are currently on hold until further notice.

  • Request a Lesley I-20

    Once you are accepted into an I-20 eligible Lesley program and have paid your enrollment deposit, complete this form:

    Complete the Immigration and Financial Declaration Form to request an I-20. This form is automatically submitted to iss@lesley.edu upon completion for the official review of your Lesley I-20 request. Detailed information on the visa application and interview process will be provided with the I-20. As previously stated, students currently in the US wishing to transfer their F-1 SEVIS status to Lesley, should schedule a zoom meeting at iss@lesley.edu before completing this form.

Contact International Student Services