Current Students Resources

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 DSO ADVISING SERVICES

Services marked with an asterisk (*)  can be also processed online or through email.

F-1 Student Status
Traveling Out of the U.S.

Concurrent Enrollment Permission*  (I am an HCC student and want to take classes with another school)

I-20 Reprint*

Hold

Permission for Medical RCL (Reduced Course Load)*

Withdraw from HCC*

 

Extend I-20*

Graduating - Permission for Reduced Course Load*

Reinstatement

Change of Educational Level  (Start a new program after program completion or OPT)*

Request for Evidence

 Transfer Out*

F-1 Employment
Apply for CPT (Curricular Practical Training)*
Apply for OPT (Optional Practical Training)
On–Campus Employment Offer Submit Copy of OPT Card / Report OPT Employment*
Special Student Relief  
Academic Requests
 Completion Verification Form*
 Request Transfer Evaluation* (after official transcripts submitted to HCC)

 

Traveling Out of the Country

F-1 Students traveling 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.  (Note: For students on OPT, the travel signature is valid for 6 months only.)    If you are planning to travel out of the country, please send an email to your DSO at least two weeks before departure. The DSO will send you by email the I-20 with travel signature on page 2.

You will need the following documents for travel:

  • Current SEVIS Form I-20 (Your DSO will send your -20 with travel signature by email)
  • 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 traveling. To do so, you will need to bring your SEVIS Form I-20 and HCC transcript to the embassy.

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Lost or Stolen I-20: Need Re-print

Steps for requesting an I-20 Reprint:

  1. Pay the $50 Reprint/Reproduction Fee in your Online Student Center. 
  2. Email your assigned DSO/International Student Advisor with your request for a reprinted I-20.

The DSO will send you by email the I-20 with travel signature on page 2.

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Request for Reduced Course Load (RCL) for Medical Reasons

To request a reduced course load for medical reasons, review and submit the following form to your assigned DSO/International Student Advisor

Reduced Course Load (RCL) - Medical

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Withdraw from HCC 

Submit a Notice of Intent to Withdraw Form to your assigned DSO/International Student Advisor along with a copy of your proof of travel outside the U.S. (flight itinerary/tickets).

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Extend I-20

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 on your SEVIS Form I-20. Failure to do so will cause the completion of your I-20 and losing your F-1 status.

To extend your I-20, email  your assigned DSO/International Student Advisor to assign a Checklist for I-20 extension to your account.

  1. Email the Completion Verification Form (CVF) Please complete sections 1-3 and meet with your  academic advisor. The academic advisor or the F-1 campus liaison will complete section 4 and will email the form to you.   
  2. Obtain Current Financial Documentation:  If you are using the same sponsor, you are only required to bring a new Affidavit of Support (found here: ) signed by your sponsor within the last 3 months. If you have a new sponsor, you are required to bring all new documents as outlined here: Financial Documentation.
  3. Upload the required documents by logging in to your account on the HCC Student System.  In the Student Homepage click on “Checklists”, then click on the “F-1 Student Checklist” to upload the documents. If you do not see an F-1 Student Checklist for I-20 extension, contact your DSO.

Important: please notify your Designated School Official (DSO) via email as soon as you have finished uploading the documents in order to receive further instructions or to inquire about the status of your request. If no checklist is assigned, please contact your assigned DSO for assistance.

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Reinstatement

Review your Reinstatement options and sign up to attend a Reinstatement Workshop here.

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Request For Evidence (RFE) from USCIS

Bring your Request For Evidence (RFE) letter to the Office of International Student Services to receive instructions for your next steps.

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Concurrent Enrollment Request at Another College

Email your assigned DSO/International Student Advisor to request permission to take a class at another college.  In the email, please state which school you will be taking courses with and how many credit hours you are planning to take (maximum of 6 credit hours). 

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Holds. 

The negative holds are marked with "Stop sign" and prevent you from enrollment  (Intl. Stdnt. Advisement Req) or from dropping classes (Below 12 Hour Status). These holds are very important and you have to click on the "details" and the "Hold item" link in order to read the description and take appropriate actions. 

The positive holds don't have any impact on your enrollment. The "F-1 Student" hold is a positive hold which is used for tracking current and prospective F-1 students.

We can only remove holds placed by our office. Holds placed by the ESL department, Bursar's Office, Records, Counseling services and Dean's office need to be addressed with the appropriate department.

If you have a negative hold on your account (FMJ or B12 only), please email a DSO/International Student Advisor based on your last name or visit the Office of International Student Services.

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Graduating and Permission for Reduced Course Load

When you apply for graduation and/or Reduce Course Load, you must submit a Completion Verification Form (CVF) 

  • Please complete sections 1-3 of the Completion Verification Form and meet with your academic advisor. The academic advisor will complete section 4 and will email the form to you.
  • Send an email to your assigned DSO with the Completion Verification Form.
  • The DSO will process the updated I-20 and wil email it to you. The reduced Course authorization will be listed on page 2 of your I-20.  

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. Certain COVID-19 exeptions may apply.

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Transfer Out

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).

  • Be in good standing with the HCC bursar’s office and have a zero balance.

Email the following documents to your assigned DSO/International Student Advisor:

  • Submit an advisor report/transfer in form from your future college or university (if applicable).
  • Submit proof of acceptance from the transfer in college or university such as an acceptance letter.
  • Complete and submit the Transfer Out Request Form‌ including the student’s signature.

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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 as follow:

  1. Discuss with your assigned Designated School Official (DSO) if Change of Educational Level is an option for you.
  2. Choose your new major of study- HCC Programs. If needed, you may consult with an academic advisor the different program plan options (Certificate, Associate in Science, Associate in Arts or Associate in Applied Science) available.
  3. Request the Completion Verification Form (CVF) Please complete sections 1-3 and meet with your  academic advisor. The academic advisor will complete section 4 and will email the form to you.   
  4. Complete the SEVIS Form I-20 Application.
  5. Obtain current Financial Documentation.
  6. Upload the required documents by logging in to your account on the HCC Student System.  In the Student Homepage click on “Checklists”, then click on the “F-1 Student Checklist” to upload the documents.

Important: please notify your Designated School Official (DSO) via email as soon as you have finished uploading the documents in order to receive further instructions or to inquire about the status of your request. If no checklist is assigned, please contact your assigned DSO for assistance.

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)

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Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT 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.). 

If you are enrolled in an eligible course, watch the CPT training video here.  After watching the video, submit the required CPT Guidelines & Forms to your assigned  in an email.

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On-campus Employment Offer

In accordance with 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-1 status, or has changed his/her legal status.

Please review additional information here: On-Campus Employment Guidelines and Forms.  

Students must request the HCC hiring department to submit a signed Employment Verification Letter on official HCC letterhead to oiss.international@hccs.edu .  The student's assigned International Student Advisor will review the student's employment eligibility and contact the student to pick up a Social Security Letter if the student does not have a Social Security Number.

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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 review the tutorial for more information on how to apply for OPT: Optional Practical Training (OPT)

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Special Student Relief

Effective April 21, 2021, the U.S. federal government has authorized eligibility for Special Student Relief (SSR) for qualifying F-1 students from Syria or Venezuela. SSR allows qualifying students to temporarily be relieved of requirements to maintain a full time course load, and may allow students to get work authorization in excess of the standard on-campus employment rules. This is not an automatic benefit, it requires approval from your DSO.

To be eligible, an F-1 student must:

  • Be a citizen of Venezuela or Syria, regardless of country of birth;
  • Have been lawfully present in the United States in F-1 nonimmigrant status on April 22, 2021;
  • Be currently maintaining F-1 nonimmigrant status;
  • Be enrolled in an SEVP-certified academic institution; and
  • Be experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the current humanitarian crisis in Venezuela (for Venezuelans)
  • Be experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the ongoing civil unrest in Syria since March 2011 (for Syrians)

To requesr SSR, please submit the Special Student Request Form and supporting documents as indicated on the form.

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(OPT) Employment card received/or report employment information

Email a scanned copy of the front and back of your EAD Card to your assigned DSO/International Student Advisor.  

On the start date of your OPT, you will receive an email from SEVIS to create a SEVP Portal Account.  Please create a SEVP Portal Account using the instructions provided in that email.  Once your Portal Account is registered, you can log in to your account here: https://sevp.ice.gov/opt/.  You will need to use that Portal to keep your employment information accurate and up-to-date throughout your OPT period.  Once you have added your employment information via the Portal, notify your assigned DSO/International Student Advisor via email so they can mail your updated I-20, including your employment information.  Please be sure your Mailing Address in your Online Student Center is accurate.

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Program Completion Verification Form

You must submit a Completion Verification Form (CVF)‌ when you are applying for a Change of Education Level, Optional Practical Training (OPT), I-20 Extension, when graduating, and when asking for permission to take less than 12 credit hours. Please complete sections 1-3 of the Completion Verification Form and meet with your  academic advisor. The academic advisor will complete section 4 and will email the form to you.   

Important: please notify your Designated School Official (DSO) via email as soon as you have finished uploading the documents in order to receive further instructions or to inquire about the status of your request. If no checklist is assigned, please contact your assigned DSO for assistance.

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Request Transfer Evaluation (after official transcripts submitted to HCC)

After your official transcripts have been submitted to HCC, email or meet with your  academic advisor to request for the transcripts to be evaluated.

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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. Submit the following documents via email to your assigned DSO/International Student Advisor:

 

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)

On-Campus Employment

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.

 On-Campus Employment Guidelines and Forms

Off-Campus Employment

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.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

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 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.).

CPT Guidelines & Forms

 

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.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) Tutorial

 

Extend I-20

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 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, email the following documents to your assigned DSO/International Student Advisor:

  1. Completion Verification Form (CVF)
  2. Current Financial Documentation
    • If you are using the same sponsor, you are only required to bring a new Affidavit of Support (found here: Financial Documentation) signed by your sponsor within the last 3 months.
    • If you have a new sponsor, you are required to bring all new documents as outlined here: Financial Documentation.

 

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 reprint 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 must submit a Completion Verification Form (CVF) to an F-1 Academic Advisor by emailing hcc.f1advisors@hccs.edu with your HCC ID number.  The F-1 Academic Advisor will forward the completed form to your DSO who will update your I-20 program end date to match your graduation date.

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.

 

Reinstatement

In certain cases, you may need to consult with an immigration lawyer. Please visit https://hlrs.org  or call 713-237-9429  or 1-800-289-4577.

 

Driver's License

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.

  1. Your SEVIS I-20 Form with the port of entry stamp
  2. I-94 (if you do not have an I-94, you may print it at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov)
  3. Visa and passport
  4. 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, that 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 application.

There are 2 options available for the mailing of your acceptance letter and I-20 which are as follows:

  1. 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.
  2. 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

 

Transfer Out

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 Request Form including the student’s signature.

 

Traveling Out of the Country

F-1 Students traveling 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.  (Note: For students on OPT, the travel signature is valid for 6 months only.)    If you are planning to travel out of the country, please visit the OISS 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 traveling. To do so, you will need to bring your SEVIS Form I-20 and HCC transcript to the embassy.

 

F-1 Student Program Completion Verification Form

You must submit a Completion Verification Form (CVF)‌ when you are applying for a Change of Education Level, Optional Practical Training (OPT), I-20 Extension, when graduating, and when asking for permission to take less than 12 credit hours.  Complete the top portion of the form and email it to hcc.f1advisors@hccs.edu with your HCC ID number to have it completed by an F-1 Academic Advisor. 

 

Request for Reduced Course Load (RCL) for Medical Reasons

Please review and submit the following form to request a reduced course load for medical reasons.

 

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.

 

 

I-20 expires

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.