Visa and Social Security Information
A visa is essentially a permit to enter the United States of America. A visa has an expiration date, however it can expire and you may stay in the U.S. as long as your passport and Certificate of Eligibility (I-20) are valid AND that you are a full-time student. Please remember not to confuse your visa with the I-20. Visas need to be renewed for re-entry if you leave the U.S.
Renewing Your Visa
In order to renew your visa, you will need the following:
- An unexpired and valid I-20.
- Enrollment verification letter from the Registrar’s Office (located in the Enrollment Center in the Commonwealth College Center, Bldg G.).
- Financial documents.
- Current, official college transcripts (which reflect registered courses for the next semester).
- Student identification card from BCC.
- Copy of your I-94 card (obtained upon arrival to the U.S.).
- If applicable, documents for your dependents.
The "I-94 Card"
- The I-94 card is white, and is issued upon your arrival to the U.S. It’s also known as your Arrival Departure Card.
- An F-1 visa holder is admitted for a period known as “Duration of Status,” which is abbreviated as “D/S”
- The “D/S” is the time during which an F-1 student is pursuing a full course of study at a SEVIS approved school.
- Make sure you always know where this card is. When you leave the U.S. you are required to turn in this card to the DHS authorities. You will receive a new card when you return to the U.S.
Your I-20 Form
When you accepted Bristol Community College’s offer of admission (when you paid the $50 registration deposit), you were issued a Certificate of Eligibility (or I-20 form). These have a very specific expiration date as indicated on the form. Do not let your I-20 form expire. If you see that your form is going to expire, see the PDSO or a DSO for information about obtaining an extension.
Reinstating Your I-120 Form
If your I-20 expires, you will have one of two choices:
- Leave the U.S. immediately and return on a new I-20. This could be a problem if you are close to graduation.
- Apply for reinstatement which involves extensive paperwork which needs to be submitted to the Department of Homeland Security. The cost to apply for reinstatement is approximately $300. Please remember that there’s no guarantee that reinstatement will be granted.
Obtaining a Social Security Card
The student ID number given to you by Bristol Community College is not a U.S. Social Security number. International students at BCC are not eligible to apply for a Social Security card unless they have secured off-campus employment.
You are eligible to apply for a Social Security card provided that you have met the following conditions:
- You have been a Bristol Community College student for at least one year
- You are a full-time student in good standing at BCC
- Your I-20 AND F-1 visa are current and valid
Visit www.ssa.gov for additional details.
Here’s what you’ll need to bring to the Social Security Administration office in order to apply:
- Complete a request form (to obtain a social security card) from the Registrar
- Your valid passport and F-1 visa
- Your I-94 card which reflects your record of arrival and departure
- Your original I-20 form
You should allow at least one month for your Social Security card to arrive in the mail (which will be sent to your mailing address).
It is your responsibility to report your Social Security number to the Office of Admission and the Student Accounts Office.