Information for current F-1 students

Answers to frequently asked questions

This page provides updated information on immigration regulation changes, International Student Services procedures, and services that F-1 students may need while living in Virginia.

Don't see your question? Contact International Student Services:

Phone: 757-822-7296
Fax: 757-822-7544

Hours of operation
Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time (ET)

How do I make an appointment to meet with the advisor?

Email International Student Services to set up an appointment. Please include your name or the full name of the interested student (if you are inquiring for someone else).

Appointments are available during normal ISS business hours, and can be conducted in person, by phone, or through Skype.
Request a Skype appointment

How do I set up my TCC email account?

Your TCC email is the primary way in which the advisor will contact you or send important information to F-1 students.
View information on setting up your TCC email
You should check your student VCCS email at least once a week. If you are having problems accessing your account, report the problem using the Student Information System (SIS) Help Request form.

Do F-1 students need to enroll full-time?

Yes. Unless you have received an I-20 authorizing you to fall below full-time, you are required to be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours in the Fall and Spring semesters.*

*Students whose program of study begins in the Summer, or who have a reinstatement of change of status approved for the Summer, must also be enrolled full-time that Summer.

Can F-1 students take online classes?

Yes, but with limitations.

F-1 students must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours to be considered full-time. At least 9 of those 12 credits must be delivered face-to-face in a classroom (not online).

For F-1 students, online classes are those which require no on-campus meetings, labs, or exams. Hybrid classes are exempt from this requirement.

Are F-1 students required to purchase health insurance?

Yes. F-1 students are required to maintain continuous health insurance coverage for themselves and any of their F-2 dependents, even over the summer months. You must submit evidence of coverage at the beginning of each semester.

Health care is very expensive in the United States. Please contact International Student Services with any questions regarding the requirements.

Do I need to notify ISS if I move?

Yes. F-1 students must notify International Student Services of a change in address within 5 days of moving using the TCC Student Data Change form.

You must also update your address in SIS. 

When do I need to apply for a new I-20?

There are several circumstances when you may need to request a new I-20, such as:

  • change in your degree program
  • moving from ESL classes to an academic degree program
  • name change
  • change in citizenship
  • change in financial sponsorship
  • lost I-20
  • program extension
  • graduation verification
  • employment authorization for

    curricular practical training (CPT) and optional practical training (OPT)

    CPT, pre- and post-completion OPT)
  • dependents (spouses and/or children)
  • reinstatement (or reinstatement through travel and re-entry)

Please contact International Student Services to request a new I-20.

What do I need to travel outside of the U.S. as an F-1 student?

When you leave the United States for any reason (e.g. for summer vacation or a family emergency), you must first obtain an ISS travel signature on the second page of your current I-20.

You must have a valid U.S. visa to return. Be sure to travel with a copy of your TCC transcripts as evidence of maintenance of status and evidence of enrollment for the upcoming semester (if available).

Please contact International Student Services to make an appointment for your travel signature.

View more information on visa renewals 

My F-1 visa is expiring. Do I need to renew it?

You do not need to renew your visa to remain in the U.S. after you arrive.

You only need to renew your F-1 visa if you are departing the U.S. and intend to return after it has expired. 

Your passport and I-20 must be valid while you are in the U.S. as an F-1 student.

View information on visa renewals 

My I-20 is expiring, but I need more time before I graduate. What do I do?

Please contact International Student Services to request a program extension before your current I-20 expires.

We recommend that you request a program extension at the start of the final semester allowed on your current I-20.

Once an I-20 has expired, it cannot be extended.

How do I apply for a Virginia driver’s license?

You must provide evidence of legal presence in the U.S and Virginia residence to apply for a Virginia driver’s license or a Virginia identification card.

Your legal presence documents may include your valid I-20, passport, I-94, and F-1 visa. 

Your Virginia residence documents may include either a bank statement or utility bill mailed to the address where you currently live, or an official TCC student transcript.

Visit the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles website for more information.

Can I work in the U.S. as an F-1 visa student?

F-1 student employment is authorized under limited and specific circumstances.

Schedule an appointment to meet with an International Student Services advisor to discuss employment options.

View detailed regulatory information regarding F-1 employment options.

I need to withdraw from TCC before I graduate. What do I do?

A family emergency or personal issues may require that you withdraw from TCC for a semester or two and return to your country until you are ready to resume your studies.

Please contact International Student Services to request a withdrawal before dropping your classes.