As an F-1 student, there’re several regulations that you must follow and adhere to in order to maintain your student status. Most students on an F-1 visa or F-1 status are granted “D/S,” on their I-94 or I-797A meaning you are allowed to remain in the U.S. for the Duration of Status, the date that’s written on your I-20. It is your responsibility to maintain your status and to understand the rules and regulations set forth by the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS). Even if your visa is valid, you can lose your legal F-1 status by not following the regulations for F-1 students.
Information for Current Students
As an F-1 student, there are several rules and regulations
that you must follow to maintain your student status. Most students on F-1 visas were admitted for D/S (duration of status) meaning you’re allowed to remain in the U.S. for the Duration of Status and until the program end date on your I-20. It’s your responsibility to maintain this status and understand and adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the USCIS. As an international student, you can lose your legal F-1 status by not complying with the rules and regulations.
All international students must attend a check-in meeting at the start of the fall and spring semester. The check-in meetings are announced by email two to four weeks before the start of the semester.
As an international student, you must be enrolled as a full-time student (12 credit hours) and must maintain full time enrollment throughout the semester. Only one class or 3 credit hours towards your full-time enrollment may be online.
International students are required to update their address with COA within 10 days of a change of address.
Change of Address Form (PDF)
Rules and Regulations
Frequently Asked Questions
OPT is a one-year work authorization granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for students who have successfully completed their associate degree. During your last semester you’ll attend an OPT informational meeting and submit your OPT paperwork to USCIS. You may submit your paperwork to USCIS as early as 90 days before the end of your program. However, your OPT paperwork must
be received by USCIS before your 60-day grace period ends.
OPT Frequently Asked Questions
All sponsored students are required to provide an updated letter of sponsorship for each semester. It is the student’s responsibility to submit the updated letter prior to the tuition deadline. Students who do not meet the deadline will have their classes dropped.
North Carolina Nonprofit Entity Sponsorship allows for a lawfully admitted student, who is living in North Carolina and attending a North Carolina community college, to be eligible for the in-state tuition rate when the student is sponsored by a nonprofit charitable or religious corporation or civil league. As a sponsor, the nonprofit entity will pay the in-state tuition rate on behalf of the student. Nonprofit entities must:
- Be incorporated under the laws of North Carolina
- Must be tax exempt
- Must submit to the college a Nonprofit Sponsorship application, articles of incorporation and federal tax identification number
- Provide the college with a signed letter of sponsorship, on organizational letter head, each semester that list the students name and applicable semester. The letter must state the sponsor takes financial responsibility for the students tuition and fees
- Pay the in-state tuition and fees using a check bearing the name of the nonprofit entity
Sponsorship Application (PDF)
Sponsorship Frequently Asked Questions
As an international student, you’re required to enroll in and maintain full-time status. Full time is 12 credit hours. In certain cases, you can apply for and be granted a RCL authorization. RCL requests must be submitted prior to dropping below full time and have restrictions. You may get a RCL authorization for the following reasons:
- Medical (a doctors note is required and is limited to one year)
- Final semester (you must be in your final semester and be enrolled in at least one face-to-face or hybrid class
- Academic reasons (limited to one time per education level)
RCL Request Form (PDF)
RCL Frequently Asked Questions
If your I-20 is expiring and you would like to continue to study at COA, you’ll need to extend your I-20. You must submit an I-20 extension form (PDF)
before your I-20 expires. You may extend your I-20 one time for a total of three years of study. If you have multiple failed classes, withdraws and retakes, you aren’t eligible to extend your I-20. You must have a 2.0 or above to extend your I-20.
If you would like to transfer to another institution, your first step is to apply to that institution. Once you have been accepted, communicated with a Designated School Official (DSO) at your new institution and made a final decision about transferring, fill out the transfer form and provide the requested documents.
SEVIS Transfer Release (PDF)
As an international student, you’re required to keep an up-to-date address on file with the college. To change your address, complete the change form and turn it in to the closest campus.
COA Change of Status Form (PDF)