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F-1 Visa Regulations

Talk with your DSO First

Your Designated School Official (DSO) is your International Student Advisor at SBCC, and should be the first person you talk with if you have any questions regarding the legal requirements of your stay in the United States. Your DSO can assist in answering your questions or help you find someone who can help.

Speak with a DSO if you are planning to do any of the following:

  • Change your major, program, or degree level
  • Change your education level
  • Transfer to a new school or take a leave of absence
  • Take a break from school
  • Travel outside the United States
  • Move to a new address
  • Request a program extension

Visit Study in the States for more tips on maintaining your F-1 visa status!

Contact your DSO

Ask important questions about your F-1 Visa status and other support services.

We are here for you!
International Office Staff
Review these guidelines to refresh your understanding of F-1 Visa regulations.
    • F-1 Visa: Enter the U.S. with a valid F-1 visa in your passport. If your visa expires while you are still studying at SBCC, you can continue studying until the next time you travel outside of the U.S. You will be required to renew an expired visa if you travel outside of the U.S.
    • Passport: Your passport should be current at all times while studying at SBCC. Contact your Embassy about options for renewing it before it expires.
    • Form I-20: Your I-20 shows that you are in a current program of study at SBCC. It should always list your current major, and your projected program completion date. Check your I-20 each semester to ensure the information is updated.
      • Transfer students: Obtain your SBCC I-20 from the International Office within 15 days of the start of your studies.
    • I-94 record: The I-94 record is proof that you entered the U.S. in F-1 visa status. Access your I-94 record digitally at cbp.gov/I94.
    • Stay enrolled in at least 12.0 credits throughout the semester. Check with an Advisor/DSO BEFORE dropping a course that will result in enrollment below 12.0 credits. Note: students who begin studying at SBCC in the summer session must register in 4.0 credits for their first session.
    • Read and follow attendance policies listed in each instructor's syllabus. Attendance in classes is required to maintain enrollment.
    • Enroll in no more than 3.0 credits of online courses per semester. Only 3.0 credits of online or distance education courses will count towards the required 12.0 credits.
    • English Language Program students are not allowed to enroll in any online courses.
    • If you want to study part-time at another school while attending SBCC, you must maintain your status at SBCC. Check with your Advisor to find out if you are eligible and to complete the Concurrent Enrollment Request Form.
    • If you want to transfer to another school to study full-time, you must transfer your I-20.
      • Submit your request to transfer to your Advisor along with a copy of your acceptance letter from the new school. 
      • Transfer requests must be received within 60 days of completing your program at SBCC.
      • Attend your SBCC classes until the date the I-20 is transferred to the new school if you decide to end your studies early.
    • Maintain a 2.0 GPA or better and make satisfactory academic progress toward the program of study listed on your SBCC I-20.
    • Students on Academic Probation are required to meet with an Advisor to apply for Academic Disqualification Exception.
    • Update your physical address through your SBCC Pipeline account within 10 days of moving to a new location (every time you move).
    • Update your local phone number your SBCC Pipeline account.
    • Update your personal email address if you change which email account you check regularly (DHS may send important notices to your email account).
    • F-1 visa students are not permitted to work off-campus nor engage in any internship, work experience or business while in the U.S. without advance permission from an Advisor/DSO.
    • F-1 visa students are eligible for on-campus employment if meeting all F-1 visa requirements and with approval from an Advisor/DSO. Visit our employment page for information about your eligibility to work!
    • English Language Training Program students are not eligible for employment.
    • Request a travel signature on your Form I-20 from an SBCC Advisor before traveling outside of the U.S.
    • Carry your passport with current F-1 visa and I-20 in your carry-on bags; you will need them to re-enter the U.S.
    • Depart from the U.S. within 15 days from the last date of attendance if not graduating with an Associate degree, transferring to another F-1 approved school, or applying for OPT.
    • Depart from the U.S. within 60 days of the graduation date (ESL Certificate/Associate level) or OPT completion date.