The International Initiatives and Student Services office provides advice, information, and services related to your student visa and immigration status in the United States. Our role in International Student Services is to assist you to maintain your legal status; but please be advised that maintaining your legal status is your own responsibility. If you are unsure of your status requirements, contact our office immediately or consult the SEVIS website for the latest information and updates about student visas. This website has information about “Maintenance of Status” work authorization, visas, and much more. International Initiatives staff is available for immigration advising on a walk-in basis or at a scheduled appointment during regular office hours. We recommend an individual appointment. Please call 001-440-366-7696 to schedule.
Student Immigration Topics/Important Forms
The U.S. government under the direction of the Departments of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) maintains and updates a real-time informational database on international students in F-1 and J-1 status to ensure that they are in a legal status. This database is called SEVIS, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. Every F-1 and J-1 student and their dependents in the United States must have in their possession a valid SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019 at all times.
Maintaining F-1 Student Status
As an F-1 student, your primary purpose for being in the United States is to study. In order to remain in lawful F-1 status, you must comply with the following requirements:
- Keep your passport valid at all times (Try to keep it valid a minimum of 6 months beyond the expected completion date in Section 5 of your I-20).
- Remain a full-time student: Complete 12 units each semester if an undergraduate student, except for summer or the last semester.
- International students should not drop below full-time, without prior approval. International students who register for less than a full-time course load, without prior approval, will be out of status and will be reported to USCIS.
- International students are not able to concurrently enroll at another school without prior approval.
- Maintain a valid I-20. Have your I-20 updated whenever you have made any changes to your major, name, and/or program end date. Note: These changes must be made prior to the expiration date on your I-20.
- Maintain good academic standing.
- Have your I-20 signed by a Designated School Official before leaving the United States. The signature is valid for 12 months from the signature date on page three (3).
- Do not participate in any unauthorized employment.
Failure to comply with the regulations cited above is a violation of your F-1 status and may result in serious consequences, including termination of your program of study.
An LCCC undergraduate student in F-1 status is required by the USCIS to complete a minimum academic load of twelve (12) units per semester. All requests must be approved before the last day to withdraw from a course.
Circumstances that would allow a student to carry a reduced number of units:
- Concurrent enrollment: When a student enrolls at LCCC for at least 6 units, and an additional 6 units or more at another university or community college, the student must obtain prior approval from LCCC.
- Authorization to Drop Below Full Course: A student may be eligible to take less than the required number of units, if approved under USCIS regulations. For example: If it is the student’s final term, the student is experiencing medical problems, or the student is having academic difficulty due to language deficiencies or improper course placement (first semester only).
Remember: You must receive advance approval (prior to the last day of the drop/add/withdraw from class period) from a Designated School Official to take less than the required unit load!
Reinstatement to F-1 Student Status
On occasion, a student falls out of F-1 status and is required to apply for reinstatement. When this happens, a student should come to see the Director of International Initiatives immediately. The student can petition to USCIS, and may be reinstated only if the circumstances were out of the student’s control and it occurred within 5 months of applying. A student who is out of status for more than 5 months is presumed to be ineligible for reinstatement. These students will have to leave the country and re-enter with a new Form I-20 or petition for reinstatement with proof of payment for the I-901 SEVIS Fee.
Change of Status
Any one who wishes to change their status from a restricted visa category (B-1, B-2, F-2, etc.) to F-1 must do so prior to beginning their program of study at LCCC. Information about how to obtain F-1 visa and F-1 status can be found on the SEVIS website.
Change of Program
A current LCCC student will be issued a new I-20 for a change of program. If you wish to change your major, you will need to process this new I-20 within 15 days of beginning a new program or degree.
Extension of Program
In order to maintain status with USCIS, international students are expected to complete their studies in a given time. If the student is unable to complete all degree requirements by the program end date on the I-20, an extension must be granted before the completion date on the I-20. This is called an Extension of Program (EoP). To request an EoP, contact the International Initiatives office at least one week prior to the program end date on your current I-20.
F-1 students who are planning to travel to another country must have their I-20 signed for re-entry by a Designated School Official (DSO) prior to leaving the United States. The signature page on page 2 of the I-20 is valid for 12 months after the date it was signed. In addition to your passport, you must also have your I-94 card.
The DSO’s signature on the I-20 is necessary for re-entry into the United States. It is also necessary to have a valid F-1 visa for re-entry. If the current visa expires before the re-entry date, or a student changed to F-1 from another visa status while in the U.S., the student must apply for a new F-1 visa while outside the United States. All students and their family members who are applying for a new visa should see a DSO before traveling.
The automatic revalidation of visa benefit allows certain F/J non-immigrants to re-enter the United States after a 30-day or less visit to a ‘contiguous territory’ (Canada, Mexico) and the ‘adjacent islands other than Cuba’ without having to obtain a new visa prior to re-entry, and provided the student is in status and all other documents are valid (i.e. passport, I-20, and I-94). However, if the student chooses to apply for a new F-1 visa while in the contiguous territory, they will no longer be eligible for the automatic revalidation benefit during the course of that trip, but would have to wait until the visa is granted in order to re-enter the United States. If the visa application is denied, the student may not re-enter the U.S. and will have to return home to apply for a new F-1 visa before returning.
To avoid delays, please see a Designated School Official and have your I-20 signed at least 1 week prior to your travel date.
Visa, lost passports, travel and re-entry procedures
The visa which was issued to you by an American Embassy or Consulate in your home country is the essential document which gains you entry into America. The I-20 document which is issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/ISCIS/ICE is what allows you to stay in America while completing your studies. Oftentimes the visa and I-20 validation dates are different from one another. You must be aware of the termination dates for both; if you wish to use these documents beyond these dates, you must do what is necessary to renew them.
If you lose your passport, check the website of your home country’s embassy in America for instructions on how to replace it.
Page 2 of your I-20 has four spaces where the Designated School Official (DSO) of Lorain County Community College must sign once per year. Be sure to obtain the required signature prior to leaving the country.
With a few exceptions, most international students will need a Canadian Visa to visit Niagara Falls or anywhere else in Canada. Apply online for a Canadian Visa.
F-1 visa students may only work on-campus. They are not allowed to work off-campus. The SEVIS website has information about work authorization requirements.
All students who wish to work on-campus must make an application for each office that hires international students. Non-immigrant visa students (F-1, J-1) are not eligible for financial aid. Some of the LCCC offices that hire international students are: Enrollment Services, the Bookstore, the Department of Physical Education, the Student Life Office, the Library, and Computer Labs.
Social Security Card
Once a student has been given a job offer in the form of a letter of hire which identifies the student, the job title, the rate of pay, and the number of hours fewer than 20 hours per week from an LCCC department, the student is eligible to apply for a U.S. Social Security Card. The International Initiatives office provides transportation to the Social Security office in Lorain. Once the application is made, the card is usually issued in two weeks.
Curricular practical training is defined as an internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. A student must have completed one academic year of full-time enrollment to be eligible to apply for CPT. If you participate in full-time CPT for twelve (12) months, or more, in the aggregate, you are not eligible for post completion of study practical training opportunities.
How to Apply
- Contact the work-based learning coordinator, Office of Career Services, who will describe the necessary protocol or consult the work-based learning website for more information.
- Obtain an employment offer letter from the company/organization you wish to be employed with. Letter must include job title, job description, and beginning and end dates.
- With the assistance of the work-based learning coordinator, register for a 1-3 credit class related to your employment.
Bring the following documents to the Office of International Student Services for processing:
- You current original Form I-20.
- Confirmation of class name and number from the Work-Based Learning Coordinator.
- Employment Offer Letter.
If a student qualifies for CPT, the Center for International Programs will authorize it and note the employment authorization on Page 2 of the student’s I-20. Per USCIS regulations, all students planning to do CPT must apply for and receive official approval from the Designated Signature Officer (DSO) BEFORE beginning employment.
Students who are doing CPT must meet the following requirements: Whether doing part-time or full-time CPT, the student must carry a full course load during the academic year (12 credit hours per semester for undergraduates and 9 credit hours per semester for graduates). For example, if an undergraduate student is doing a three-hour internship, he/she must be registered for an additional nine credit hours to meet the minimum 12-credit hour requirement.
Income Tax Requirements
All students who have worked during the previous calendar year are required to submit federal, state, and local tax returns. The LCCC Payroll Office issues each employee a U.S. Federal Government/Department of Internal Revenue W-2 form each year before the end of January. The W-2 lists the employee’s wages as well as all tax withholding amounts. Though a student may not owe any taxes, he/she is still required to file tax reports for federal, state, and city entities. For more information on these requirements and tax forms, please visit the websites for the Internal Revenue Service and the State of Ohio Department of Taxation.