International Student Resources

Welcome to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health – and welcome to Boston!

Both the Harvard International Office and Harvard Chan School’s Office for Student Affairs (OSA) are available to help international students and scholars adjust to life in the United States.

Harvard International Office

The Harvard International Office (HIO) is part of the University’s Central Administration and provides information on a wide range of topics such as:

The office offers orientations throughout the year and publishes a Welcome Guide to help students get settled once they arrive on campus, including information about how to open a bank account, obtain a credit card, or purchase a cell phone.

All international students are required to complete registration with the HIO prior to registration for classes.

Harvard Chan School’s HIO advisor

An HIO advisor is assigned to each Harvard school. The advisor for Harvard Chan School is Elizabeth Capuano.

Phone: 617-496-2817
Set up a meeting on the HIO Office Hours page

Visa Support Letter

OSA can write a letter of support for students whose family members or friends need visas to enter the U.S. The letters, which can be requested using this form, will be emailed to your Harvard email address as a PDF. Please note that letters can take up to five business days to process.

Making Changes to Your Visa

  • Currently enrolled international students who require changes to their visas should notify Elizabeth Capuano in the HIO at or 617-496-2817.
  • Changes may include:
    • Visa extensions
    • Addition of dependents
    • Returning from a leave of absence
    • Reporting significant changes in funding (30% or more)

Visa extensions

Students requesting a visa extension should take the following steps:

  1. Submit a General Petition to request a program extension.
  2. Submit the Financial Certification Form for International Students. You will be asked to upload the following documents:
    1. A photocopy of your passport biographical page
    2. The HIO visa document request form
    3. Financial documents: In order to calculate the amount you need to certify, you will need to consider your remaining tuition requirement, health insurance/fees, cost of books and supplies (per additional semester) and the cost of living (per additional month) until your program ends. You can use the Cost of Degree Programs Toolto get an estimate of these different charges.
    4. If you have any dependents on your visa, please also include proof of funding for your dependents. To calculate living expenses for your dependents, please add:
      • $510/month for one additional person
        $730/month for two additional people
        $970/month for three or more additional people
      • You will also need to show that you can cover the cost of the health insurance plan for any children. Current rates can be found on the HUHS website.
  1. Once you have an approved General Petition and have submitted the FCIS form, you will get a confirmation email from the Office of Financial Aid on your total certification amount.

Please be aware that failure to request an extension prior to the completion date on your immigration document is a status violation and may have negative implications for immigration options, including work authorization.

If you have any concerns about this, please contact Elizabeth Capuano immediately.

Social Security Number

To work in the U.S. you must have a Social Security Number (SSN). You may start working without an SSN if you can provide evidence to your employer that you have applied for one. If you have an SSN, you should use it when completing your tax forms.

Visit the HIO website for additional information.

Opening a Bank Account and Credit Card

The HIO website offers information about opening a bank account. Students are usually not able to obtain a credit card without an SSN. However, students with a bank account at the Harvard University Employee’s Credit Union (HUECU) should be eligible for a credit card with limited credit, even if they do not have an SSN.

Visit the HUECU website for more information.