Below are keys to maintaining your F-1 Visa status.
International F-1 Visa students at OTC must maintain a full course load of 12 hours (also known as full-time status), each semester. Students could lose their lawful student status if they drop classes or are administratively withdrawn for failing to attend class, and fall under 12 hours without prior permission from the OTC’s International Programs Office (IPO). Students who do not comply with the full-time enrollment will be reported to the Department of Homeland Security as failing to comply with F-1 Visa regulations. However, if a student is in their last semester before graduation, and does not require a full-course-load to graduate, the are only required to take the number of hours they need to graduate.
In addition, only 3 hours of online learning can be applied towards your full course load each semester. For example, a student can register for 9 credit hours seated, and then take a 3-hour online class, which in total would be 12 hours for the fall or the spring semester.
Only 3 hours of online learning can be applied towards your full course load each semester. For example, a student can register for 9 credit hours seated, and then take a 3-hour online class, which in total would be 12 hours for the fall or the spring semester.
8 C.F.R. 214.2 (f)(6)(i)(G).
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) clearly states that students attending college on an F-1 Visa must demonstrate “normal academic progress” towards completing their degree. (8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(5)(i). What does this mean? It means you will need to maintain at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA at the end of each year (Spring and Fall semesters), and take classes that contribute to and are part of the selected degree program indicated on the OTC degree audit and the I-20 form, also known as the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.
Successfully passing classes each semester is another criterion for making normal academic progress. As an F-1 Visa student, you must successfully complete 24 hours each academic year to meet the satisfactory academic progress requirements. “W” grades, received for withdrawals, do not count towards the full-time enrollment of 12 hours each semester. Students who fail to make satisfactory academic progress may have problems renewing their visas, transferring, or completing their degree program by the end date indicated on their I-20 or the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.
F-1 visas do not permit international students to work off-campus while attending college. Waivers to work off-campus are possible only under situations of extreme financial hardship. You can apply for this after one year of successful academic performance, as approved by the IPO Director. Eligible students can apply for OPT or CPT to work off campus. Unauthorized work off-campus will result in termination of your SEVIS account. This will result in OTC considering you out-of-status for your F-1 visa.
- Change your address
- Change your degree or program of study at OTC
- Get married or otherwise change your name
- Want to get permission to drop below full-time status
- Want to apply for a waiver to work off-campus
Procedures for Temporary Protected Status Students
The government grants Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to people from selected countries which the US recognizes as currently in turmoil and therefore unsafe. TPS status held concurrent to or with the F-1 (international student) visa provides the following additional privileges for international students at OTC:
- A student will be eligible to work off-campus in the same manner as if they obtained an economic hardship waiver.
- Maintenance of the F-1 visa will allow students to remain in the US in legal status after expiration of their TPS status, provided their F-1 program end-date has not passed.
What does it mean that TPS status is limited?
As noted in the USCIS website, TPS status does not lead to a green card, and does not place the bearer in immigration status. Much like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which has a two-year expiration, TPS is a limited status. This designation of status does not confer permanent residence or the intention of permanent residence, unlike refugee or asylum status. If they so desire, students do have the right to apply for a green card through refugee or asylum or through the permanent resident immigration application process.
Because TPS is a temporary provision, not a means of obtaining permanent residence or citizenship, OTC charges non-immigrant (i.e., international student) tuition rates to TPS students. If a new TPS student does not go through the F-1 visa admission process at OTC, our institutions requires that they depart once their TPS status has expired. This requirement is because they will no longer be in legal status.
Additional information may be found on the links listed below: