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Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of the most common questions that international students ask. If this page does not answer your question, contact us and we’ll be happy to help! Do not rely on friends, academic advisors or professors to give you advice about immigration.

Enrollment Questions

  1. How many classes/hours must I take at North Lake College?
  2. What is full-time enrollment?
  3. Can I enroll in online classes?
  4. The degree plan form asks for my “catalog year.” What is my catalog year?
  5. Can I drop a class? Will that affect my F1 status?
  6. If I do not graduate on time can I extend my F1 status?
  7. When I am ready to graduate, what do I do about my I-20?

Employment Questions

  1. Can I get a job?
  2. What are OPT and CPT?

Visa and Immigration Questions

  1. Once I get F1 status, can I lose it?
  2. If I leave the United States and re-enter during school vacations, what documents do I need to bring?
  3. My Form I-20 is about to expire. What do I do?
  4. My F1 visa stamp in my passport is expiring or expired. What do I do?
  5. My passport is expiring. What do I do?
  6. I have lost my F1 status. What do I do?
  7. Someone is asking for my U.S. social security number. I do not have one. What do I do?
  8. Do I need a driver’s license?
  9. What is the SEVIS I-901 fee?
  10. I lost my passport and/or I-94 card and F1 visa. What do I do?

Enrollment Questions

intlcenter2.jpg1. How many classes/hours must I take at North Lake College?
U.S. immigration law requires that F1 students enroll full-time except during an allowed annual vacation. For most students, this is the summer semester. You do not have to enroll in any summer classes unless summer is your first term at NLC.
 
You can be authorized to enroll less than full-time under certain circumstances. All exceptions require getting our office’s approval first.
 
Intensive English Program students are not allowed an annual vacation period.
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2. What is full-time enrollment?
Our enrollment page explains this.
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3. Can I enroll in online classes?
Yes, but you must enroll in at least 9 credit hours on-campus, which includes labs. The only exception is the summer term: if summer is NOT your first term of study at NLC, then summer enrollment is optional. Therefore you can enroll in as many online summer courses as you like.
 
Online classes are designated as "INET" classes on your eConnect class schedules. In-class lecture classes are designated as "LEC" with dates, times, and building room number.
 
Intensive English Program students are not allowed to enroll in any online classes.
 
4. The degree plan form asks for my “catalog year.” What is my catalog year?
Your catalog year is the year you began studies at NLC.
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5. Can I drop a class? Will that affect my F1 status?
Yes, it will affect your F1 status!  Do not drop any class until you come to the International Center and talk with an advisor. We will look at your situation and determine if you can drop or if you are prohibited from doing so.
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6. If I do not graduate on time can I extend my F1 status?
You can, but only if you have a legitimate reason.
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7. When I am ready to graduate, what do I do about my I-20?
Upon completing your degree requirements you will be issued an updated I-20 to reflect your completion-of-studies date. This new date on your I-20 is very important. You will have 60 days from this date to choose one of the following: apply for OPT; depart the United States; transfer to another U.S. school; or apply to USCIS for a change of visa status. You must take action during this 60-day period to avoid losing your F1 status.
 
Whatever action you take, you must notify the International Center of your plans.
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Employment Questions

1. Can I get a job?
Yes, but only certain kinds of jobs, and only with prior permission from the International Center. Learn more about working at North Lake.
 
2. What are OPT and CPT?
OPT is Optional Practical Training, a type of work authorization allowing students to work in their field of study for one year maximum to get ‘hands-on’ experience in their field of study. OPT is usually after graduation.
 
CPT is Curricular Practical Training, when a student enrolls in a class that requires him or her to take an internship. This still requires prior authorization from the International Center. CPT opportunities are very limited at North Lake College. 
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Visa and Immigration Questions

1. Once I get F1 status, can I lose it?
Yes. Student visas have rules and regulations that you must follow at all times.
 
2. If I leave the United States and re-enter during school vacations, what documents do I need to bring?
Our travel guide can tell you what to do before traveling and what to bring on your trip.
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3. My Form I-20 is about to expire. What do I do?
Contact the International Center at least four weeks before your I-20 expires to meet an F1 advisor to review your situation. If you are graduating, you have 60 days from your I-20 expiration date to either: leave the United States; apply to and transfer to another U.S. school; apply to USCIS for a change of status to another visa; or apply for post-completion OPT (see #8).
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4. My F1 visa stamp in my passport is expiring or expired. What do I do?
If you are not traveling abroad and re-entering the United States, you do not need to do anything. Your F1 visa stamp in your passport is only for entering the United States, and does not affect your ability to leave. If you are traveling, you must get the visa renewed at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad before you can re-enter the United States. F1 visa stamps can only be renewed outside of the United States.
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5. My passport is expiring. What do I do?
Contact your home country’s consulate or embassy in the United States to renew your passport. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months into the future.
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6. I have lost my F1 status. What do I do?
Loss of F1 status is extremely serious. Contact the International Center immediately to discuss your situation and how you can get your F1 status back.
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7. Someone is asking for my U.S. social security number. I do not have one. What do I do?
U.S. banks are required to collect U.S. social security numbers for accounts that generate interest. Ask the bank if they offer no-interest accounts or accounts specially designed for international students. Other groups, like apartments and utility companies, should not require a social security number for identification. If they ask you for ID, your passport should be all they need.
 
F1 students can get a social security number following these steps if they are authorized to work and have a job offer. The International Center can help with this process.
 
If you do have a social security number, only give it to an institution you trust, such as a bank, a new employer, or a government agency.
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8. Do I need a driver’s license?
If you plan to drive a car, you need a valid driver’s license. The State of Texas (not the United States government) issues driver’s licenses. The State of Texas can issue driver’s licenses to foreign nationals in the United States who are here legally on visas. You will need to provide your immigration documents at the driver’s license office. Please consult their website for details. 
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9. What is the SEVIS I-901 fee?
All new F1 students are required by U.S. law to pay a SEVIS I-901 fee. Once the Form I-20 is issued to the admitted student the student is required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee, unless you paid it already at a previous school and are transferring to North Lake College. Read more or pay the fee.
 
10. I lost my passport and/or I-94 card and F1 visa. What do I do?
Contact your home country’s embassy or consulate office in the United States and work with them to get your passport replaced. Once your passport is replaced, contact the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country about getting a replacement F1 visa. If the documents were stolen, you will need to keep a copy of a police report. The F1 visa stamp cannot be replaced, but this is only a problem if you need to leave the country and re-enter. Talk to us about your options if you lose your F1 visa.
 
If you lose your I-94 card, you may be able to use this online request form to retrieve your I-94 number. If you need a replacement card instead of just a number, file with USCIS using Form I-102, and pay the fee. It takes USCIS an average of 5 to 6 months to issue a replacement I-94 card. Again, talk to us for more help.