Current Students Resources
The Office of International Student Services & Study Abroad is committed to providing the best service possible for our students.
To make your next visit to our office more efficient, please review this list of services and bring the appropriate required documents outlined here to ensure quick and effective service.
Services and Forms
Change of Education Level
Students who have completed their academic program at HCC have the option to pursue a new major. You must apply for a change of education level within 60 days of completing your current program or OPT.
Steps for Change of Education Level are the same as applying as a New Student. The following documents are required:
- F-1 Student Program Completion Verification Form (need to be prepared by an Academic Advisor)
- SEVIS Form I-20 Application
- Financial Requirements
- $75.00 Application Fee (check, money order or pay online through the student system)
The following changes are permitted:
- Language Training* to a Degree ( AA, AS or AAS ) or Certificate program
- From one type of Associate degree to another (AA,AS,AAS) or Certificate program
- From Certificate program to Associate degree (AA, AS, AAS)
*You don’t need to apply for a Change of Educational level after you finished ESL program if your SEVIS I-20 is issued for an Associate degree or Certificate level.
Employment - On-campus, Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
In accordance to 8 C.F.R. 214.2(f) (9) (i) and HCC’s internal policy, F-1 students are eligible to be employed on-campus as long as they are considered in good standing and making satisfactory progress. Students can work at all HCC locations up to 19.5 hours during the spring and fall semester and may work full-time during official vacation periods and holidays.
The F-1 on-campus employment eligibility expires once the student transfers to another institution or graduates (unless he/she continues his/her education at HCC for a secondary program in the following semester), is considered in violation of F-1status, or has changed his/her legal status.
In general, international students on F-1 status are not permitted to work off-campus without prior authorization. Any unauthorized employment is considered illegal and can cause serious consequences.
However, there are certain benefits made available by the Department of Homeland Security to F-1 students that pertain to employment opportunities as part of the educational program. Students must be in F-1 status for at least one full-time academic year before they are eligible to work off-campus.
In accordance to 8CFR 214.2 (f)(10)(i), CPT is a specific work/training authorization issued by the Designated School Official (DSO) that allows F-1 students to pursue a part-time employment or training based on academic requirements. Such authorization is issued per semester and is only granted if the employment or training is documented as an academic necessity to complete program requirements (internship, cooperative education or field training classes etc.).
Employment - Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a specific work authorization granted by the Department of Homeland Security to allow students to obtain training in their field of study. In most cases, this application is filed as post-completion OPT in the graduating term of an Associate Program and, if approved, grants the student a full-time work authorization for up to 12 months in a field related to his/her program of study. Please see the tutorial below for more information below on how to apply for OPT.
If your SEVIS Form I-20 is going to expire prior to completing your program plan, you may request to extend your SEVIS Form I-20 end date.
You must request to extend your SEVIS Form I-20 at least 30 days before the end date marked on your SEVIS Form I-20. Failure to do so will cause completion of your I-20 and losing your F-1 status.
To extend your I-20, bring the following documents to the OISS&SA:
- F-1 Student Program Completion Verification Form
- Current Financial Documentation
- If you are using the same sponsor, you are only required to bring a new affidavit of support signed by your sponsor within the last 6 months.
- If you have a new sponsor, you are required to bring all new documents as outlined by the OISS&SA Financial Requirements
Lost or Stolen I-20: Need Re-print
Current students who have lost or stolen their I-20 may request a new I-20 in person at the Office of International Student Services& Study Abroad.
To get a re-print of your lost or stolen I-20, you must bring the following items:
- Valid photo ID - drivers license, passport or HCC ID will work to identify you as the student whose name is on the I-20
- $50 reproduction fee - check or money order
Proof of Meningitis Vaccination
The Texas Senate Bill 1107, passed in May 2011, requires that new HCC students and former HCC students returning after an absence of at least one fall or spring semester who are under the age of 22 present a physician-signed certificate showing they have been vaccinated against bacterial meningitis. The immunization must be received at least 10 calendar days before the start date of your classes and must have been administered within the last five years.
Graduating and Permission for Below 12SCH
When you apply for graduation, you should notify your DSO. You may do so by turning in the Completion Verification Form below at the begining of your graduating semester.
Also, students who are graduating and need less than 12 semester credit hours to complete their program may use this same form to request permission to take less than 12SCH for their final semester. Make sure to turn in the form at the beginning of the semester.
If a student needs only one course to finish his or her program of study, it cannot be taken through online/distance education. The regular face-to face or hybrid classes meet the physical presence requirement for the course. Courses marked as ONLINE and courses that require only physical presence for the final examination are considered online/distance education classes.
The Completion Verification Form should be filled out by an academic advisor at the campus or at the OISS&SA.
In order to receive or renew a Texas Driver’s License or Texas Identification card (ID), you will need to present the following documents in person at a Department of Public Safety (DPS) office.
- Your SEVIS I-20 Form with the port of entry stamp
- I-94 (if you do not have an I-94, you may print it at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov)
- Visa and passport
- 3 documents that show proof of residency in Texas for at least 30 days (such as: electric bill, bank statement, cable bill with your name and address. If your name does not appear on your bills, your roommate may accompany you the Department of Public Safety (DPS) with proof of their residency and sign an affidavit form stating you live with them.)
For more information please visit the DPS website: Department of Public Safety Website
Please note: NEW Students, Transfer Students, Change of Education Level Students, Change of Status Students - you will not show up in the DPS system until you have been registered in SEVIS - which will occur after the beginning of second start of your first semester at HCC. To see when second start is, visit the HCC Calendar.
Receiving My I-20 and Express Mail
Once the office receives all of your documents, you should wait at least 10 business days for processing. This time will vary depending on when the application is submitted and how many applicants there are at that time. Applications are processed in the order they are received.
Once the I-20 is processed, we will mail it to the mailing address you provided on the I-20 applicatoin.
There are 2 options available for the mailing of your acceptance letter and I-20 which are as follows:
- Send by Regular Overseas Mail - Overseas mail takes 4-6 weeks. If you want your I-20 sent by regular overseas mail, no response is required. Your I-20 will be sent by regular overseas mail to the address indicated on your application. Please do not e-mail to confirm your overseas address.
- Send by Express Mail to receive your I-20 within 5 days after processing. Express mail is at the expense of the student.
To select express mail, follow this link: International Express Mail
F-1 students wishing to transfer to another college or university are advised to contact the college or university they wish to transfer to in order to complete the steps necessary for admissions and transfer in.
Steps to transfer out from Houston Community College (HCC).
- Submit an advisor report / transfer in form from your future college or university to the Office of International Student Services & Study Abroad (if applicable).
- Be in good standing with the HCC bursar’s office and have a zero balance.
- Submit proof of acceptance from the transfer in college or university such as an acceptance letter.
- Complete and submit the HCC Transfer out form including the student’s signature.
Traveling Out of the Country
F-1 Students travelling out of the United States must have the 2nd page of their SEVIS Form I-20 signed by a Designated School Official (DSO). The signature (endorsement) is valid for 1 year for travel and re-entry. If you are planning to travel out of the country, please visit the OISS&SA with the following documents at least two weeks before departure.
- Current SEVIS Form I-20
- Current Passport (valid for at least 6 months)
- Current F-1 Visa - your F-1 Visa must be valid for re-entry into the United States
If your F-1 Visa will be expired when you plan to return to the U.S., you will need to renew your VISA at a U.S. Embassy abroad while travelling. To do so, you will need to bring your SEVIS Form I-20 and a Good Standing Letter from OISS&SA to the embassy.
F-1 Student Program Completion Verification Form
The Completion Verification Form should be filled out by an academic advisor at the campus or at the OISS&SA.
FX grade for F-1 students
Effective Fall 2017 semester, F-1 international students must earn letter grades (A, B, C, D or F). A grade of “FX” (failing because of non-attendance) will no longer count towards the full-time enrollment requirement. “FX” is not considered a valid letter grade and demonstrates the student is not maintaining F-1 immigration status.
Also, please note that the longstanding policy of “W” grades not counting toward full-time enrollment remains in effect.
F-1 students must maintain at least 12 credit hours during the fall and spring semesters (9 credit hours during the summer, if this is their first semester of attendance at HCC). International students holding an F-1 visa are limited to no more than the equivalent of one class or 3 credit hours of distance education (online class) per semester that will count towards the full-time status.
More information on F-1 students’ full course requirements and academic progress can be found on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website under section Sec. 214.2(f).
Students who are having academic difficulty or at risk of failing their course of study should immediately contact an academic advisor at the Office of International Student Services & Study Abroad (OISS&SA). Students should not drop any course(s) before consulting with OISS&SA.
My I-20 expires this semester. What should I do?
The answer depends on whether you are graduating this semester or whether you will need additional time to complete your current program of study.
Please review the I-20 Expiration Checklist to find out if you need to take actions or not.
Academic advisors at HCC are committed to your success. Whether your goal is to transfer to a university or obtain the skills to enter the workforce, academic advisors are trained and ready to help you build a plan for your future. Find more information about the services academic advisors provide here.