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CURRENT F-1 STUDENTS

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ's

 

 

Welcome to Tidewater Community College and International Student Services!

If you are a currently enrolled F1 student, this section of the International Student Services (ISS) web page will provide you with updated information on changes to immigration regulations, International Student Services office procedures, and services that you may use while living in Virginia.  

Check this web page and the ISS Organization in Blackboard regularly for new postings! 

 

   
 

In order to assist you and provide up-to-date immigration advising, the International Student Services office uses a variety of forms and informational handouts.  For ISS office procedures, click the appropriate link in the list below:

*When requesting F-1 benefits, please allow 3-5 business days for processing.

 

 

Email the P/DSO to request an appointment using your TCC student email account at: iss@tcc.edu

B)  WHAT ARE MY RESPONSIBILITIES AS AN F-1 STUDENT AT TCC?

It is important that you understand your responsibilities as an F1 student at TCC. It is also important to understand that the P/ DSO is just that—an advisor. Ultimately, you are responsible for the decisions that you make while you are studying and living in the United States. This information can also be found on the form that you signed at the mandatory F1 orientation, on the form that was included in your admission packet, and also in the ISS Organization in BlackBoard.  It is a good idea to review your responsibilities from time to time. If you have any questions about these responsibilities, please make an appointment to meet with the International Student Advisor.  It is very important that you are not advised by friends.

 

C)  HOW DO I SET THE PASSWORD FOR MY TCC EMAIL ACCOUNT?

If you experience problems in setting your password for your TCC email account, please click on the link at the end of this section to contact the TCC HELP DESK

(757-822-2457 or 757-822-2459) for assistance.

 

https://tcc.my.vccs.edu/jsp/home.jsp

Your TCC email is the primary way in which the P/ DSO will contact you or send important information to the F1 student group.  You are required to check your TCC Student Email Account at least once per week. Students who fail to check their email accounts miss valuable information that could affect their status. The International Student Advisor will not send information to a private email address. If you are having problems accessing your TCC student email account, report the problem using the TCC Student Help Request Form.

 

D)  EVIDENCE OF CONTINUOUS HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE IS REQUIRED. WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS?  

Health care is very expensive in the United States so it is very important to keep your health insurance policy in effect, without a break in coverage. You must submit proof of health insurance at the beginning of each semester that indicates coverage for the entire semester. For a description of health insurance policy requirements, click the link above.

For a list of acceptable international student health insurance providers, please consult the "Useful Websites" tab of the ISS Organization in BlacBoard or contact the International Student Services office.

 

E)  HOW DO I NOTIFY THE ISS WHEN I CHANGE MY ADDRESS OR NAME?

Federal Regulations require that F1 students notify the P/ DSO of a change of address or name within 5 days of the event. Please follow the steps outlined in the bulleted list below.  Once this completed form is received by ISS, the International Student Advisor will update your SEVIS record. To notify the International Student Advisor if changes to your personal information:

Complete a TCC Student Data Change Form and submit it to International Student Services. The P/ DSO will update SEVIS and keep a copy of the Student Data change form in you permanent F1 file.

 

Do not notify the international student advisor of your move or name change by email. You must notify the P/ DSO formally by submitting a completed TCC Student Data Change form. Changing your address in the Student Information System via the web does NOT constitute notifying the International Student Advisor and your SEVIS record will not be updated. Failure to follow the above TCC procedures for SEVIS notification will result in your SEVIS record not being updated, which is a failure to comply with Federal regulations.

F)  HOW DO I REQUEST A NEW I-20?

During your time a TCC, there are several circumstances for which you may need to request a new I-20. You may change your major; you may have lost your I-20; you may be moving from the English language program to your Academic program, etc.  Before you meet with the International Student Advisor to request an updated I-20, please review the list below to determine which form to complete and submit the completed form along with the required accompanying documents: 

 

G)  HOW DO I REQUEST A TRAVEL SIGNATURE ON MY I-20?

When you depart the United States for any reason, whether it is for summer vacation or a family emergency, you cannot re-enter the U.S. without a valid signature from the International Student Advisor on your current I-20.

Please complete the Travel Signature Request Form and attach the required documents before submitting the form to ISS. 

The International Student Services office requires at least 5 business days to complete your request.

Late requests for travel signatures will result in your I-20 being returned to you by mail.

 

H)  HOW DO I APPLY FOR AN F-1 VISA OR RENEW MY CURRENT F-1 VISA?

If you are leaving the U.S. for less than 5 months, but your current F1 student visa has expired or you were approved for a change from another temporary status to F1 student status while in the United States, you must apply to the U.S. Embassy in your country for an F1 student visa before you return to the U.S. 

To prepare for your embassy visit, request the following documents from the TCC Records office at your home campus:

              Certified letter of enrollment

              Certified transcripts

              Updated financial support documents from your sponsor.

              Proof of Enrollment for Upcoming Semester (if possible)

Make sure that your passport is valid.

For more information on visa application, go to the U.S. State Department website http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html  or make an appointment to meet with the International Student Advisor.  Please bring your passport and other documents with you to your appointment.

 

I)  WHAT IF I NEED TO WITHDRAW FROM TCC BEFORE I GRADUATE?


A family emergency or personal issues can require that you withdraw from TCC for a semester or two and return to your country until you are ready to resume your studies.  Please be sure that BEFORE you drop your classes and depart the United States you notify the International Student Advisor and complete a Request for Withdrawal Form.

 

Failure to request permission to withdraw from classes is a violation of the F-1 Immigration Regulations. Students who receive approval from the P/ DSO to withdraw from TCC are entitled to a 15 day grace period to complete travel arrangements and prepare for departure from the U.S.  A student that withdraw without PRIOR authorization from the P/ DSO is NOT eligible for the 15 day grace period and may be subject to severe penalties.

 

J)  HOW DO I NOTIFY ISS OF MY INTENT TO TRANSFER OUT TO ANOTHER SCHOOL?

Transferring to another school requires advance planning.  If you plan to transfer from Tidewater Community College to another SEVIS approved school, you must plan ahead, follow SEVIS transfer guidelines,  and complete your transfer in accordance with Federal regulations. One of the requirements is to notify TCC (your "transfer-out" school) of your intent to transfer, identify the school to which you intend to transfer (your "transfer-in" school), and your intended transfer date.   Keep in mind, you are working with two separate schools at the same time!  To assist you in this process, click on the link above to print the ISS Transfer Out Packet.  Remember, your SEVIS record cannot be released to your new school until you have completed an admission to your new school, officially notified ISS of your intent to transfer out,  and submitted an acceptance letter from your new school to ISS.

 After printing and reading the instructions in the

TRANSFER OUT PACKET, if you still have questions please make an appointment to meet with the Advisor.

 

K)  MY I-20 EXPIRES SOON, BUT I NEED ANOTHER SEMESTER TO GRADUATE. WHAT  SHOULD I DO?


Federal Regulations at 8CFR 214.2(f)(7)(i) state:  An F1 student who is currently maintaining status and making normal progress toward completing his or her educational objective, but who is unable to complete his or her course of study by the program end date on the Form I-20, must apply prior to the program end date for a program extension pursuant to paragraph (f)(7)(iii) of this section.

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** A request for a program extension requires an appointment with the P/ DSO.  The P/ DSO may approve an extension under limited circumstances.  Delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for a program extension.

 

To apply for a Virginia driver’s license or a Virginia identification card you must provide evidence of legal presence and Virginia Residence. A list of acceptable documents is located at the link below. Your legal presence documents are: your valid SEVIS I-20, valid passport, current I-94 and F1 visa. Your Virginia residence documents are either a bank statement or utility bill mailed to the address where you currently live, or an official TCC student transcript (must include grades). If you have not completed at least one semester at TCC and have not received grades, the DMV will not accept your transcript or letter of enrollment.

http://www.dmv.state.va.us/webdoc/citizen/legal_pres.asp

 

M) HOW DO I OBTAIN A LETTER OF INVITATION FOR GRADUATION OR OTHER IMPORTANT EVENT?

If you would like to invite family members to visit you for an important event, such as graduation from Tidewater Community college, you may need to provide the U.S. embassy with a letter if invitation. Place your cursor on the bullet above to open the information handout on letters of invitation.

 

N)  I'M AN F-1 STUDENT ON POST COMPLETION OPT. HOW DO I REPORT MY MONTHLY EMPLOYMENT STATUS AND ADDRESS TO THE ISS OFFICE?

An F-1 student authorized for post-graduation employment authorization is responsible for reporting to the International Student Advisor during the year that she or he is on Optional Practical Training (OPT) her or his current address, current employer's name and address, and any periods of unemployment while on OPT. Per Federal regulation, the International Student Advisor is responsible for monitoring the student's personal and employment data and updating the student's SEVIS record to reflect address and employment information. To keep your SEVIS record current while you are on OPT and to satisfy Federal reporting requirements, complete this form and submit it by the first of each month to the International Student Service office until your OPT has ended, you transfer to another school, or you depart the U.S.

 



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This school is authorized under Federal Law to enroll non-immigrant alien students.

F-1 visa students at Tidewater Community College may only enroll in classes required for the course of study listed on the form I-20 that are located at TCC’s four comprehensive campuses (Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach) and the Visual Arts Center. (Please note: students may continue to enroll in one 3 credit online course per semester to count towards full-time enrollment.) Enrollment in classes at any off-campus location is not permitted, and is considered to be a violation of status. There is no exception to this policy.