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Updated June 29, 2021

This information is for Tufts University students who plan to study at Beijing Normal University (BNU) during Fall 2021. This arrangement is based on a joint agreement between Tufts and BNU. Under this agreement, students will enroll in in-person classes at BNU while taking Tufts classes remotely (on-line) for the Fall 2021 semester.

Please read below for visa and immigration related questions and choose the section that applies to you. All other questions about program details - including questions about classes, start and end dates, billing, registration, support services, and related matters - should be directed to Mala Ghosh, Senior Director, Tufts Global Education and Dr. Mingquan Wang, Faculty Advisor for Tufts in Beijing.

Immigration Requirements

If you are thinking about attending Tufts @ BNU for Fall 2021, you should notify the International Center of your decision once you have made your final plan and you have been accepted into the program. Depending on your situation, you may need to take additional steps.

  • Send an email to the International Center at Include your name, program, and student ID number, and let us know that you have decided to attend the Tufts @ BNU program for Fall 2021.
  • Depending on your situation, we may need to defer your I-20 to Spring 2022 or later. The International Center will start to re-issue new I-20s for Spring 2022 arrival in September once the final attendance roster for Tufts @ BNU has been set.
  • If you are a continuing student with an already-active SEVIS record, we will work with you individually about how to maintain your immigration status while attending Tufts @ BNU.

Deferral or Leave of Absence

If you are a new student and decide to defer (delay) your attendance at Tufts and will not attend any Tufts program for Fall 2021, contact your Admissions office as soon as possible. Different programs have different notification deadlines, so please contact your Admissions office for more details. (A&S, SOE, and SMFA students should also send an email to Tufts Student Services at

If you are a continuing student and want to get a leave of absence from your program, contact your undergraduate advising dean or your director of graduate studies. In both cases, once you have made a final decision and notified your school and program, send an email to the International Center at with full details about your plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, you do not need an F-1 visa to attend Tufts @ BNU. An F-1 visa is needed only to enter the US, so you only need to get a visa when you are planning to come to the US. In that case, you must apply for a visa (if you do not have one already) at a US consulate. Note that US consulates in China are processing F-1 visas, but because of high demand it may take time before you are able to get an appointment.

Before you apply for a visa, however, remember that you must also have a Form I-20 from Tufts. If you received a I-20 from the International Center for Fall 2021 arrival, but will not be arriving until Spring 2022, please contact the International Center as we will need to issue a new I-20 for you for Spring 2022 arrival instead. (See the next question as well.)

There are two different situations.

(1) If you have never come to Tufts before, you do not need an I-20 to attend Tufts @ BNU. You need an I-20 from Tufts only when it is time for you to apply for a F-1 visa and come to the US as an F-1 student. Since you will be outside the US for Tufts @ BNU, an I-20 is not needed for Fall 2021. If however you are planning to get a visa for Spring 2022 arrival, we will need to issue an I-20 for you for a January 2022 arrival in the US.

(2) A different situation applies if you were attending Tufts before (for example: in Spring 2021), you were inside the US previously as an F-1 student, and you have an active I-20 and SEVIS record from Tufts. In order to keep your I-20 in active status, you will need to continue to register full-time through the Tufts @ BNU program. If your I-20 is expiring but you will need more time after Fall 2021, contact the International Center at with details regarding your situation.

It depends. In general, the International Center recommends that you be able to arrive in the US by the start of the Fall 2021 semester (or earlier depending on your COVID-19 vaccination status, as persons who are not vaccinated may be required to undergo a 7-day quarantine). However, later arrival may be possible as long as several restrictions are kept in mind:

  • Undergraduate students may be able to arrive by the end of the drop period (September 22) in order to ensure enough time for academic adjustment
  • Graduate student arrival may be flexible depending on their school and department; please contact your department and the International Center for advice about your specific situation
  • Any student arriving late should first contact the International Center to see if a new Form I-20 is needed

Important: upon arrival in the US on a F-1 student visa, you will be required to comply with F-1 visa rules automatically. This means:

  1. You must be enrolled full-time for the Fall 2021 in Tufts courses (12+ SHUs for undergraduate students; 9+ SHUs for graduate students)
  2. A minimum of one of your Tufts courses must be classified as in-person or hybrid

If you are not able to meet the full-time and in-person requirements upon arrival in the US, we recommend that you complete the Tufts @ BNU program for the Fall 2021 semester and plan your arrival for Spring 2022 instead.

Other Considerations

  • Any student arriving in the US who is not vaccinated will be required to start the vaccination cycle and undergo quarantine (based on current guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control)
  • First and second year undergraduate students should be in contact with the Office of Residential Life to ensure that their on-campus housing assignment is still available upon arrival
  • Talk to your Tufts @ BNU advisors about any possible financial penalties for withdrawing from BNU classes
  • Upon arrival in the US, you may be required to enroll in Tufts student health insurance if you were not charged the health insurance fee on your original Fall 2021 bill: contact for information

If you have a valid F-1 visa and an I-20 from Tufts that is valid for Fall 2021, it is your decision whether to come to Tufts and attend classes in person, or attend Tufts @ BNU. Consult with an academic advisor and check with the International Center about your required immigration documents for arriving in the US.

Please work with the Tufts @ BNU advisors for information about deadlines and to help you with making a decision about your Fall 2021 plans.

Maybe. In order to be eligible for practical training (including OPT and CPT), you must have been studying full-time inside the US for at least two semesters.

Consequently, if you have never been inside the US on a Tufts I-20 and F-1 visa before, you will need to complete at least two semesters in the future before you can qualify for OPT or CPT. An example is as follows:

Fall 2020 - studied outside the US
Spring 2021 - studied outside the US
Fall 2021 - came to the US and studied full-time
Spring 2022 - stayed in US and studied full-time
SUMMER 2022 - now qualified for practical training (OPT / CPT), based on two semesters of full-time study in the US

If you have already been in the US and studied full-time for two semesters, but are studying full-time at Tufts @ BNU, the BNU semesters are treated as "study abroad" semesters and count toward your OPT / CPT eligibility, as long as your I-20 is still valid and SEVIS record is kept in active status. Your SEVIS record will stay active as long as you are enrolled full-time. It will be deactivated if you stop studying or withdraw from the program for non-medical reasons (such as a personal leave of absence). Consult with an international student advisor for more information about your specific situation.

Some other important points:

  • OPT: To apply for OPT, you must be physically present in the US on an F-1 student visa - you cannot apply for OPT from outside the US
  • CPT: If you want to do an internship while studying at Tufts, but the internship will be done while you are outside the US, you do not need to apply for CPT - CPT is required only if you are physically inside the US and doing a paid or unpaid internship related to your major