Frequently Asked Questions
What does it mean to be a full-time student?
To be considered a full-time student you need to be registered for and attend at least 12 credit hours of classwork.
You may be considered full time and register for less than 12 credits IF: you have permission from an international student advisor (this must be done before the quarter). Reasons that an advisor can authorize less than full-time course load include authorized vacation quarters, a documented medical condition, or it is your final quarter before completing a degree.
When can I have a vacation quarter?
You may take a "vacation" quarter and remain in the United States if you have completed 3 full time consecutive quarters. However, if you are coming to the United States for the first time and beginning your study in winter or spring quarter, you may take summer as a vacation quarter.
***Please note: "Vacation quarter" refers to a quarter when you are eligible to stay in the U.S. and not taking classes.
If my class is too hard, can I stop attending?
No. Please do not do that! If students stop attending their class, they will probably get a "V" grade. If they get permission to withdraw, they get a "W" grade. Both grades will not count toward the 12 credits that you are required to take! In this situation, it is better to get a bad grade and re-take the class rather than to stop attending it. Otherwise you will fall out of status!
Why is it important for me to maintain my F-1 status?
All student records must be updated in SEVIS every quarter ("registered in SEVIS"). Students who fail to maintain status lose the privileges of their student immigration status which can result in serious consequences. Consequences may include: denial of re-entry into the United States, denial of requests for practical training, denial of requests to change status, denial of future visa applications, and deportation.
Immigration regulations are very important to you during your studies at SCC. We recommend that you understand the immigration regulations and learn how to maintain your status. Please remember that the staff of International Education are here to help. We have access to the most up to date immigration information, so even if you hear from a friend an answer to your immigration questions, you should still come and speak with an International Education staff member! We want to help you to be successful as a student at SCC and achieve your academic goals!
What should I do if I think I am out of status?
What should I do if I plan to go out of the U.S. for a short time?
We recommend that you have the following:
1. Make sure that an advisor or other staff member in the International Education department has given you a travel signature (on Page 3) within the last 6 months.
2. A current passport valid for at least six months after your re-entry date.
3. A valid, current F-1 student visa stamp (sticker) in your passport.
4. Financial information showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses (such as a bank statement)
5. Your I-94
6. You may want to carry an unofficial copy of your transcript and your class schedule that shows that you are a student at SCC.
If you are on Optional Practical Training please check with an advisor to find out what other things are required.
If you are planning on leaving the United States for a longer visit, please come and see an advisor to complete a Leave of Absence/Withdrawal form (It is a red form). You will also be given information on how you can return to Shoreline Community College after your leave of absence.
What should I know about my documents?
Passport: Your passport must be valid at all times. Keep your passport and other documents in a safe place. Report a lost or stolen passport to the police, as your government may require a police report before issuing a new one. To renew or replace your passport, contact your country's consulate in the United States. For a list of foreign consulates in the United States you can check the U.S. State Department's website at
Visa: A visa is the entry stamp that a U.S. Consulate Office placed on a page in your passport. This visa is only an entry document. You need a valid visa to enter the U.S. However, you are permitted to stay in the U.S. even if your visa stamp has expired (Important: You must be in valid F-1 status though!)
I-20: Make sure your I-20 does not expire while you are a student at SCC! Please request an extension BEFORE the expiration date (We recommend that you submit an extension request at least a month before it is going to expire). If you will be traveling outside the U.S., remember to check Page 3 to and have a signature from us within the last 6 months.
I-94: This is the small white card that was stapled in your passport when you entered the United States.
Instead of paper I-94 cards (arrival/departure records), students entering via an airport or seaport will be issued an electronic I-94 record. This change has already started in some airports but will become effective throughout the U.S. on May 21, 2013 (Except if students are entering from Canada or Mexico). Please note that at this time, we do not expect this change to have any impact on you other than not receiving a paper I-94 card.
What is SEVIS?
How does SEVIS work?
Once you have been accepted to attend Shoreline Community College we will share your information with SEVIS and the system allows us to create an I-20 for you. This I-20 is mailed to you. When you apply for your student visa the U.S. Consulate or Embassy confirms through SEVIS that the I-20 is valid.
When you arrive at the airport, the Customs officer updates your SEVIS record with your entry information.
When you arrive on campus, we confirm your arrival in SEVIS. Each quarter, we are required to update your information (that you are still a full-time student at SCC). IMPORTANT: If for any reason you cannot take at least 12 credit hours during a quarter, make sure you get prior permission from your advisor and complete an RCL form so that we keep your SEVIS record active!
After you complete your program at Shoreline and transfer to another university or leave the U.S., we are required to update your SEVIS record with that information.
What information is given to SEVIS?
- If the student has enrolled at Shoreline Community College, or failed to enroll
- A change of the student's or dependent's legal name or address
- Any student who graduates prior to the end date listed on their I-20
- Any student who fails to maintain status or complete their program
- Academic or disciplinary actions taken due to criminal conviction
- Whether the student drops below a full course of study without prior approval from the international student advisor
- Termination date and reason
- Other data generated by standard procedures such as program extensions, school transfers, changes in level of study, employment authorizations, and reinstatement
How long can I stay in the U.S.? After I finish my program, what grace periods am I eligible for?
- You can stay as long as it takes you to complete your degree ("Duration of Status"). However, you MUST follow the immigration rules on this handout and make satisfactory academic progress toward completing your program. You also get 60 days after your program completion as a grace period. You do not get the above 60 day grace period if you are not completing your program.
- Transfer students who have completed a course of study are eligible for transfer through the end of the 60-day grace period.
Official Information for F-1 Students is also available at the U.S. government's centralized website for students: http://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/students/. Please note that information on this website is general in nature and different schools will have different processes and policies in place.
Additionally, please find below links to information on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website: