International Students

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International Student Support Resources

International Student

Don’t let immigration issues get in the way of your studies. Find out how you can maintain your F-1 Student Visa status and study in the US.

International Student
International students on F-1 status are eligible for part-time on-campus employment, but some rules apply. Learn how to get authorization to work in the US. 

Must-Have Documents



Your passport must be valid for at least six months from your date of enrollment. Check the expiration date and have it renewed if needed. You can do this in the U.S. through an official consulate from your home country. If you renew through the mail, be sure to request certified delivery with a return receipt.

F-1 Visa

This document, issued by the American Embassy in your home country, states the time period during which you can enter the U.S. and how many entries are permitted. The dates do not indicate how long you can stay once you’ve entered – you can stay as long as you maintain your F-1 Visa status.

I-94 Card

When you enter the United States, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has automated Form I-94 at the port of entry. A traveler lawfully admitted (or paroled) into the U.S. may print their lawful record of admission (I-94 form) from the CBP website

Form I-20

This is the form San Jacinto College gives you when you’ve completed all your requirements for admission. Keep this with you at all times, even when you leave the U.S. temporarily. It serves as validation of your student status and shows all permissions granted to you, such as transfers, employment, and reentry to the U.S. 

Frequently Asked Questions


At San Jacinto College, students on an F-1 student visa are international students.

An F-1 student is a non immigrant who is pursuing a full course of study to achieve a specific educational or professional objective, at an academic institution in the United States that has been designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to offer courses of study to students and has been enrolled in SEVIS (the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System).

International students cannot enroll in the following programs:

  • Maritime Transportation
  • Health Information Technology *
  • Culinary Arts *
  • Accounting (A.A.S program only) *
  • Business Office Systems & Support *
  • Computer Information Technology- Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity *

*International students are prohibited from enrolling in programs that are mainly offered online*

No, SJC does not require that you purchase an insurance policy; however, with the cost of medical treatment in the U.S., we highly recommend that you cover yourself by purchasing insurance. Your DSO can provide information on health insurance providers. We strongly encourage students to have insurance.

Yes. F-1 students are required to take and complete a minimum of 12 semester credits every fall and spring semester as required by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) rules and regulations.

If you are an initial student (new to the country) in the summer,  you are required to enroll in 12 credit hours in the summer term.

Students with F-1 visas who take less than a full course load may become out of status and risk penalties by USCIS, up to and including deportation.

F-1 students may enroll in distance learning classes. Please note: If you are enrolled in 12 credit hours, 9 hours must be face-to-face, and only 3 hours may be taken online or hybrid.

Yes, all first time in college students must attend new student orientation before registering for classes.

Transfer students with less than 11 credit hours are also required to attend orientation. Once you have an advising session with the international staff, you will receive further guidance.

All new F-1 visa students, are also required to attend International Student Orientation which is held two weeks once the semester begins. Students will meet new students, learn more about F-1 visa regulations, learn about campus resources and receive their I-20. 

DSO stands for designated school official. A DSO is responsible for reporting and updating information to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) about the F-1 student's situation.

International students are charged out of state and other non-resident tuition and fees. You may review Tuition & Fees for more information.

Federal financial aid is not offered to international students. International students must have sufficient funds to cover all expenses incurred while at San Jacinto College: tuition, fees, books, housing, transportation, living expenses, travel and all costs.

However, international students with an F-1 visa are eligible for the Texas Public Grant (TPEG) Application for Foreign Students often referred to as Foreign TASFA. Foreign TASFA is state financial aid. For more information visit International Student Services or the Financial Aid Office. 

Yes. Accessibility Services at San Jacinto College provides services to students with disabilities, ranging from providing note takers to sign language interpreters, and quiet testing rooms to extended test times. Services are provided free of charge to students, but documentation of the disability is required.

Visit Accessibility Services or call 281-922-3444 for more information. 

San Jacinto College considers all applicants without regard to race, creed, color, sex, age, national origin or disability.

No. San Jacinto College does not provide housing to students. However, apartment buildings are located within walking distance of the college. In addition, many private parties advertise rooms for rent on bulletin boards around campus.


Yes. Even though you may have a valid F-1 Visa and I-20 from another school, you will still need an I-20 from San Jacinto College.


In order for you to receive an I-20 from our college. You must complete the international admissions transfer process and receive an acceptance letter from our college.

Refer to Transfer Students Residing Inside the U.S.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is designed to help the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State better monitor school and exchange programs and F, M and J category visitors.

Exchange visitor and student information is maintained in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). SEVIS is an Internet-based system that maintains accurate and current information on non-immigrant students (F and M visa), exchange visitors (J visa), and their dependents (F-2, M-2, and J-2).

SEVIS enables schools and program sponsors to transmit mandatory information and event notifications via the Internet, to the DHS and Department of State (DOS) throughout a student or exchange visitor's stay in the United States.

A citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter the United States (U.S.) generally must first obtain a U.S. visa, which is placed in the traveler’s passport, a travel document issued by the traveler’s country of citizenship.

Certain international travelers may be eligible to travel to the U.S. without a visa if they meet the requirements for visa-free travel. The Visa section of this website is all about U.S. visas for foreign citizens to travel to the U.S.

(Note: U.S. citizens don’t need a U.S. visa for travel, but when planning travel abroad may need a visa issued by the embassy of the country they wish to visit. When planning travel abroad in this situation and to learn about visa requirements by country, see Country Specific Travel Information in the International Travel section of this website.)

How Can I use a Visa to Enter the U.S.?

Having a U.S. visa allows you to travel to a port of entry, airport or land border crossing, and request permission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspector to enter the U.S. While having a visa does not guarantee entry to the U.S., it does indicate a consular officer at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad has determined you are eligible to seek entry for that specific purpose. DHS/CBP inspectors, guardians of the nation’s borders, are responsible for admission of travelers to the U.S., for a specified status and period of time. DHS also has responsibility for immigration matters while you are present in the U.S.

What Types of Visas Are There?

The type of visa you must obtain is defined by U.S. immigration law, and relates to the purpose of your travel. There are two main categories of U.S. visas:

For more information, visit U.S. Visas, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Student Acceptance at a SEVP Approved School

Before you can apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for an F or M student visa, you must first apply to and be accepted by an SEVP approved school. Visit the Department of State website, EducationUSA, to learn about educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate study, opportunities for scholars, admissions, and more. You can also visit the DHS Study in the States school search page to search for SEVP-certified schools.

When you are accepted by the U.S. school you plan to attend, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee. The U.S. school will provide you with a Form I-20 to present to the consular officer when you attend your visa interview. If your spouse and/or children intend to reside with you in the United States while you study, they must obtain individual Form I-20s, but they do not pay the SEVIS fee. Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website to learn more about SEVIS and the SEVIS I-901 Fee.

How to Apply

There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website where you intend to apply. 

Complete the Online Visa Application

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Photo –You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.

When you enter the United States on a student visa, you will usually be admitted for the duration of your student status. That means you may stay as long as you are a full time student with a valid I-20, even if the F-1 visa in your passport expires while you are in the U.S.

Your passport must be valid at all times in order to remain in the U.S.

Yes, as long as you have not violated your student status, you may legally remain in the United States with an expired F-1 visa. However, if you exit the U.S., you must have a valid visa for re-entry.

No. For more information about visa applications visit the Department of State website at

On-Campus Employment
F-1 students may work at any on-campus job that does not displace a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR). They can work up to 19.5 hours per week while school is in session. They may work full-time during those periods when school is not in session or during the student’s annual break if supervisor approved. Not complying with these guidelines for on-campus employment may be a violation of status that could result in the student having to leave the United States.

Off-Campus Employment
F-1 students are allowed to enter the United States for academic studies. They are required to show that they will be able to afford the costs of school and living expenses prior to entry and should not plan on being allowed to work off-campus.Off-campus employment is not permitted.  Off-campus employment is only authorized in cases of severe economic hardship occurring subsequent to a student’s enrollment in an academic program or in emergent circumstances as defined by DHS.

Yes. U.S. Social Security numbers are approved for people who are authorized to work in the United States. These numbers are used to report your wages to the U.S. government and to determine eligibility for Social Security benefits. If you are temporarily in the United States to attend college, with a non-immigrant F-1 student classification without an on-campus work authorization, you cannot apply for U.S. Social Security. The Social Security Administration will not assign you a number just to enroll in college or school. Please talk to International Services before applying for social security.

You may need to leave the United States to re-establish student status by re-entering the country with a new I-20 or by filing a reinstatement request with the Department of Homeland Security. For more information, please visit International Student Services immediately.

We recommend that you be in Houston 30 days prior to starting school, so you can get settled in before classes begin. However, you may not enter the United States more than 30 days before your program start date listed on the I-20 form if you are a new student. You must report your entry into the United States at the San Jacinto College South Campus, International Student Services.

You will need to meet with International Student Services to review extension information and to determine how much time is needed to complete your program. Your DSO will advise you. You may be eligible for a one-time extension to your program's end date if requested by the student BEFORE the end date on your I-20 form. If you fail to extend the date, you may lose your F1 status.

As an F-1 student, you must always be aware of your program end date and make sure it does not expire regardless of the institution you are attending. You may visit International Student Services for further guidance.

F-1 students may travel outside of the U.S. while the semester is not in session. You will need to obtain a travel signature on your original I-20 before departing the U.S. We encourage you to visit International Student Services to obtain a travel signature no later than three (3) weeks before traveling. If traveling in between semesters, you must register for classes for the following semester before obtaining a travel signature.

Frequently Asked Questions about Senate Bill 4

These FAQs are meant for informational purposes only, and are not provided for the purpose of addressing individual situations. The FAQs are not meant to be considered specific legal advice, which can only be given by lawyers to their clients. You should contact your own attorney or a legal clinic if you need guidance about a specific legal question.

Yes. Senate Bill 4 specifically applies to campus police, as well as police departments of cities, and counties.

SJC is bound to follow Texas law. The SJC Police Department is not immigration. Our officers are here to support student success and to promote a safe environment for our community.

No, not unless they are being detained or under arrest. Senate Bill 4 only applies to officers asking immigration status of a person under lawful detention or under arrest. Police officers do not have the authority to arbitrarily ask students or anyone else about their immigration status. We need to educate our students that they should not have any fear of the police stopping them just to check their immigration status. It would be a violation of the law and policy to do so.

We cannot arrest solely for immigration status unless there is a federal warrant (an order from a federal judge to arrest an individual). If they have been arrested or detained for a crime, they could be held in compliance with a federal ICE detainer (a request from federal authorities to hold someone on federal charges (in this case a violation of immigration law).

Under both circumstances we must comply with the law and either arrest and/or hold them. The main point here is to ensure everyone understands if they are not being arrested or detained for a crime, we cannot ask their immigration status.

The law presently under legal challenge. Senate Bill 4 does not require local police agencies, like San Jac PD to become active enforcers of federal immigration laws. Senate Bill 4 does prevent police agencies from prohibiting its police officers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status during a lawful stop or arrest. SJCDP does not have a specific role in the enforcement of federal immigration laws, with the one exception: If an SJCPD officer has someone lawfully arrested and in our custody.

SJCPD would ask a student for identification to verify identity and student's status for such matters as confirming an individual's right to be on SJC campuses. In such cases, the student and employee are required to present their SJC Identification card. A second example, if a student/employee is stopped on a traffic violation or officer has reasonable suspicion to believe the student/employee may be involved in a criminal incident, the student and employee will be asked for a State Identification card.

Sadokat Khakimova

Uzbekistan native, San Jac Honors student
Sadokat Khakimova
I wanted to go someplace where I didn’t know anyone, and I wanted to experience a more independent lifestyle. I found out that San Jacinto College was a Top 10 community college in the nation and had great transfer opportunities with partnering universities.”
There are different types of international students, each with their own admission requirements — and certainly each one with their own unique story.. Looking to apply? Visit our admissions section.

Contact International Student Services

Have questions? Need support?
Don't hesitate to reach out to one of our faculty members.