These are some of the most common questions that international students ask. If this page does not answer your question, contact us to schedule an appointment to meet with an F1 advisor to address your questions. We are happy to help! Do not rely on friends, family members, academic advisors, or professors to give you advice about immigration.
- Can I apply online?
- How long will it take to process my application?
- How and when will I get my I-20?
- What are the medical requirements?
- How many classes/hours must I take at North Lake College?
- What is full-time enrollment?
- Can I enroll in online classes?
- The degree plan form asks for my “catalog year.” What is my catalog year?
- Can I drop a class? Will that affect my F1 status?
- If I do not graduate on time can I extend my F1 status?
- When I am ready to graduate, what should I do about my I-20?
- Can I register for classes?
- Do I need to take classes in the summer?
- Do I need to take a placement test?
- How can I request my transcript?
- I can graduate from NLC if I take fewer than 12 credit hours. What should I do?
- Can I enroll in another campus or another school?
Employment Questions for F1s
- Can I get a job?
- What are OPT and CPT?
Visa and More Immigration Questions
- Once I get F1 status, can I lose it?
- If I leave the United States and re-enter during school vacations, what documents do I need to bring?
- My Form I-20 is about to expire. What should I do?
- My F1 visa stamp in my passport is expiring or expired. What should I do?
- My passport is expiring. What should I do?
- I have lost my F1 status. What should I do?
- Someone is asking for my U.S. social security number. I do not have one. What should I do?
- Do I need a driver’s license?
- What is the SEVIS I-901 fee?
- I lost my passport and/or I-94 card and F1 visa. What should I do?
1. Can I apply online?
No. All international students with F1 visas must apply by filling out a paper application packet and submitting it to the International Center. The application is available on our website. On these pages you will find all the information on how to apply to NLC as an F1 student.
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2. How long will it take to process my application?
It takes about 2-3 weeks. As soon as we finish the initial review, we will send you an email to tell you the result, or to ask you for any missing information or missing documents. Providing a complete application will reduce delays. We do not process incomplete applications.
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3. How and when will I get my I-20?
It depends on how quickly you fulfill ALL admissions requirements. If you are accepted, we will contact you to provide your acceptance letter and I-20 form. We can mail the letter and form to any address in the United States, or you can pick up the documents from our office, or you can send a proxy to pick up your documents. (To send a proxy, please fill out the "Proxy release" form.)
If you are an F1 transfer student, you will not receive your I-20 from North Lake College until you have cleared the F1 orientation and/or when your current school in the United States releases your F1 record to North Lake College. This usually does not happen until the end of the current term of studies at your current school.
If you are overseas, we do not offer international delivery services of documents. If you do not have any friends or family near North Lake College who could pick up your documents for you, eShipGlobal can send them around the world. Sign up and place your order through the eShipGlobal website.
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4. What are the medical requirements?
- Tuberculosis (TB) skin test. This must be conducted in the United States, and is valid for one year.
- Meningitis vaccination. This can be conducted anywhere in the world, and is valid for five years. Meningitis vaccinations are often cheaper in your home country than in the USA, but you must bring proof that you received it.
- Meningitis vaccination is required of all students who are 21 years of age or younger at the time of application for admission to North Lake College.
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1. How many classes/hours must I take at North Lake College?
U.S. immigration law requires that F1 students enroll full-time except during an allowed annual vacation. For most students, this is the summer semester. You do not have to enroll in any summer classes unless the summer is your first term at NLC AND/OR if you are in the Intensive English Program (IEP) with an issued "Language Training" Form I-20 from North Lake College.
You can be authorized to enroll less than full-time under certain circumstances
. All exceptions require getting an International Center F1 advisor's approval first
Intensive English Program students are not allowed an annual vacation period. The IEP program is very intense and requires continuous enrollment until the requirements are satisfied for entering the degree program.
Back to top 2. What is full-time enrollment?
Our enrollment page
explains this in detail. In summary, full-time enrollment is a minimum of 12 credit hours OR a minimum of 18 clock hours (actual in class/lab time each week) depending on the program you are enrolled.Back to top 3. Can I enroll in online classes?
Yes, but you must enroll in at least 9 credit hours of classes on-campus. The only exception is the summer term: if summer is NOT your first term of study at NLC and/or you are not an IEP student, then summer term enrollment is optional. Therefore you can enroll in as many online summer courses as you like.
Online classes are designated as "INET" classes on your eConnect class schedules. In-class lecture classes are designated as "LEC" with dates, times, and building room number.
Intensive English Program F1 students who have been issued a NLC language training I-20 are not allowed to enroll in any online INET classes.
4. The degree plan form asks for my “catalog year.” What is my catalog year?
Your catalog year is the year you began studies at the college level at NLC. Catalog years are school years, so if you enroll during fall 2015 or spring 2016, your "catalog year" is 2015. The 2016 catalog year begins in fall 2016.Back to top 5. Can I drop a class? Will that affect my F1 status?
Yes, if you will still finish with at least 12 credit hours in the semester you may drop. Check carefully your schedule BEFORE you drop. If dropping a class will take you below 12 credit hours for the term, you cannot drop
. Make an appointment to see an F1 advisor to discuss your situation.Back to top
6. If I do not graduate on time can I extend my F1 status?
You can, but only if you have a legitimate reason
. You MUST make an appointment to see an F1 advisor, and submit your request for I-20 extension at least four weeks before your current I-20 F1 status expires. Your I-20 expiration date is on the first page of the form. That date is VERY important. Most I-20s will expire during the months of August, December, or May each year. Check your date
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7. When I am ready to graduate, what should I do about my I-20?
Upon completing your degree requirements you will be issued an updated I-20 to reflect your completion-of-studies date. This new date on your I-20 is very important. You will have 60 days from this date to choose one of the following: 1) apply for OPT, if eligible for OPT; 2) depart the United States; 3) transfer your F1 status to another U.S. school; 4) or apply to USCIS for a change of visa status. You MUST take action during this 60-day period to avoid losing your F1 status. This 60-day period is strictly enforced by US immigration.
Whatever action you take, you must
notify the International Center of your plans.Back to top
8. Can I register for classes?
Some students are eligible to register by themselves using the online eConnect system, but some students need our help to register. Ask us if you don't know which group you are in. Most of the time, students who have taken classes already, and who have passed TSI standards
, and do not have any other blocks, can register by themselves through eConnect. If you are eligible to register for classes through eConnect you MUST follow your degree plan registering only for classes that are within your degree plan.
9. Do I need to take classes in the summer?
If summer is your first semester at NLC and/or you are an F1 IEP student issued a language training I-20, or if you have not passed TSI standards
, you need to take summer classes. If you do not fall in those categories, you do not need to take summer classes. If in doubt please ask an F1 advisor.
10. Do I need to take a placement test?
Many students are required to take a placement test before registering for their first classes. Please contact us to determine whether, when, and how you must take the test and if you are exempt/waived from testing. F1s who are exempt/waived from testing (not all) most of such F1s in this catagory already have earned college level credits at another accredited US institution. Not all F1s who have such credits qualify for testing exemptions/waivers. Please check with the International Center.
11. How can I request my transcript?
12. I can graduate from NLC if I take fewer than 12 credit hours. I believe I am in my last term of studies and do not need to take 12 hours. What should I do?
You can request permission for "less than full-time enrollment" by submitting this request form
(PDF). Our F1 immigration advisors will determine whether you are eligible. Submitting a request does not
guarantee an approval. Requests must be submitted before the start of the semester of the desired less than full-time enrollment.
13.Can I enroll in another campus or another school?
As of Fall 2015 NLC F1s who are in good academic standing must enroll in at least 9 credit hours at NLC.
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Employment Questions for F1s
1. Can I get a job?
Yes, but only on the NLC campus, and only with prior written permission
from an F1 advisor at the International Center. Any off-campus employment also requires our written approval. Learn more about working at North Lake
2. What are OPT and CPT?
OPT is Optional Practical Training
, which is a type of work authorization that allows F1 students to work in their field of study for one year maximum to get ‘hands-on’ experience in their field of study AFTER completing studies (Associates degree). OPT is usually after graduation/studies are completed. In order to apply for OPT attendance at an information session is required. OPT information session dates will be available at the International Center front desk in the OPT sessions sign up book. We will also post information regarding upcoming sessions on our Facebook/Twitter page.
CPT is Curricular Practical Training
, when a student enrolls in a class that requires him or her to take an internship to get credit for the class. This still requires prior written authorization from the F1 advisor at the International Center. CPT opportunities are very limited at North Lake College. Back to top
Visa and Immigration Questions
1. Once I get F1 status, can I lose it?
2. If I leave the United States and re-enter during school vacations, what documents do I need to bring?
Our travel guide
can tell you what to do before traveling and what to bring on your trip.Back to top
3. My Form I-20 is about to expire. What should I do?
Contact the International Center at least four weeks before your I-20 expires to meet an F1 advisor to review your situation. If you are graduating, you have 60 days from your I-20 expiration date to either: leave the United States; apply to and transfer to another U.S. school; apply to USCIS for a change of status to another visa; or apply for post-completion OPT (see #8).Back to top
4. My F1 visa stamp in my passport is expiring or expired. What should I do?
If you are not traveling abroad and re-entering the United States, you do not need to do anything. Your F1 visa stamp in your passport is only for entering the United States, and does not affect your ability to stay. If you are traveling, you must get the visa renewed at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad before you can re-enter the United States. F1 visa stamps can only be renewed outside of the United States.Back to top
5. My passport is expiring. What should I do?
Contact your home country’s consulate or embassy in the United States to renew your passport. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months into the future. Depending on your country it could take several weeks to renew your passport.Back to top
6. I have lost my F1 status. What should I do?
Loss of F1 status is extremely serious. Contact the International Center immediately to discuss your situation and how you can get your F1 status back
A loss of F1 status subjects you to arrest and removal from the United States at any time. This is why you should contact us immediately.Back to top
7. Someone is asking for my U.S. social security number. I do not have one. What should I do?
U.S. banks are required to collect U.S. social security numbers for accounts that generate interest. Ask the bank if they offer no-interest accounts or accounts specially designed for international students. Other groups, like apartments and utility companies, should not require a social security number for identification. If they ask you for ID, your passport should be all they need.
F1 students can get a social security number following these steps
if they are authorized to work and have a job offer
. The International Center can help with this process. You can also visit the US Social Security Administration website as requirements for obtaining a US social security number do change periodically.
If you do have a social security number, only give it to an institution you trust, such as a bank, a new employer, or a government agency.Back to top
8. Do I need a driver’s license?
If you plan to drive a car, you will need a valid driver’s license. The State of Texas (not the United States government) issues driver’s licenses. The State of Texas can issue driver’s licenses to foreign nationals in the United States who are here legally on visas. You will need to provide your immigration documents at the driver’s license office. Please consult their website
for details. Back to top
9. What is the SEVIS I-901 fee?
All new F1 students are required by U.S. law to pay a SEVIS I-901 fee. Once the Form I-20 is issued to the admitted student the student is required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee, unless you paid it already at a previous school and are transferring to North Lake College. Please be aware that the US government is strictly enforcing the payment of these SEVIS fees. Read more or pay the fee
10. I lost my passport and/or I-94 card and F1 visa. What should I do?
Contact your home country’s embassy or consulate office in the United States and work with them to get your passport replaced. Once your passport is replaced, contact the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country about getting a replacement F1 visa. If the documents were stolen, you will need to keep a copy of a police report. The F1 visa stamp cannot be replaced, but this is only a problem if you need to leave the country and re-enter or if you lose them while abroad. Talk to us about your options if you lose your F1 visa.
If you lose your I-94 card, you may be able to use this online request form
to retrieve your I-94 number if you have traveled and re-entered/entered the United States since May of 2013. If you need a replacement I-94 card instead of just a number, you will have to file with USCIS using Form I-102, and pay the fee. It takes USCIS an average of 5 to 6 months to issue a replacement I-94 card. Again, talk to us for more help.