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Students studying abroad in Latin America

Current Students

Flagler College is home to roughly 120 international students representing more than 40 countries. International Students make up roughly five percent of the College’s total student body.

What to Know

Immigration Documents

It is important to know the location and status of your immigration documents at all times during your time at Flagler College.

Passport

Be sure you keep your passport valid at all times. Your passport cannot expire while you are in the United States.

Visa

It is important to check the expiration date on your F-1 visa. You will need to make the necessary arrangements to renew your visa if you plan to travel internationally and your visa is expired.

I-20

Inform the Flagler College International Center immediately if you notice a discrepancy in information on your I-20. Additionally, please reach out to the Flagler College International Center to extend your I-20 prior to the program end date.

I-94

Have a copy of your I-94 with you at all times.

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Maintaining Status

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) mandates specific rules as to how F-1 students must maintain status in the U.S. Current students need to remember that they must adhere to these requirements throughout their time at Flagler College to ensure they maintain legal immigration status. The Flagler College International Center is willing and able to assist you and answer questions you have concerning your immigration status; however, it is your responsibility to maintain your immigration status in the United States.

Below is a comprehensive list of the responsibilities all F-1 students have while studying in the United States.

Full Course Load

Undergraduate: Must be enrolled in 12 credit hours minimum during the Fall and Spring semesters.

Graduate: Must be enrolled in 9 credit hours minimum during the Fall and Spring semesters.

Online Classes

Students are able to participate in online learning courses. However, students may only register for three (3) online credits as a part of their full-time enrollment. For undergraduate students, only three (3) credit hours may count towards the total 12 credit hours for the Fall and Spring semesters. For graduate students, only three (3) credit hours may count towards the total 9 credit hours for the Fall and Spring semesters.

Exceptions to Full Course Load (Reduced Course Load)

Immigration regulations require that F-1 international students maintain a full course of study (12 credit hours for undergraduate & 9 credit hours for graduate). However, in certain situations, students are able to drop below the mandatory full-time requirement. Please note that in all circumstances, the International Center must approve a request for a Reduced Course Load Form BEFORE a student drops a course. Dropping below a full course load without prior approval will result in the student being out of status.

Difficulties resulting from the following categories are acceptable reasons for reduced course loads:

  • Last Semester of Study
    • This may be utilized by students who are in their final semester of study and only have 1 or 2 courses remaining to graduate. You must apply for a Reduced Course Load before your final semester. Applying for a Reduced Course Load during your final semester does not affect your eligibility for OPT or CPT.
  • Academic Difficulties
    • Includes: Improper course level placement; Initial difficulty with English language (including reading requirements); Unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods.
    • Students are only able to request a Reduced Course Load for academic difficulties during their first academic year (first or second semester) at Flagler College. Approved Reduced Course Load requests last for the entire semester you requested. Students should prepare to re-enroll in a full-time course load for the following semester.
  • Illness/Medical Condition
    • To initiate a reduced course load, a note from a licensed medical professional must be submitted to the International Center. The note does not need to go into details of the diagnosis; however, the licensed professional must explain why, due to medical circumstances, the student be reduced to part-time enrollment or not enrolled.

Make normal progress towards degree completion

F-1 visa students are required to make normal progress towards completing their program of study by the program end date listed on their Form I-20. Making normal progress includes, but is not limited to, enrolling in the proper courses required for degree completion (12 credit hours per semester for undergraduate and 9 credit hours per semester for graduate), maintaining satisfactory academic progress, and continually meeting all institutional enrollment requirements. Students are required to reach out to the International Center in the event they are no longer making normal progress.

Notifying Changes

All F-1 students are required to notify the International Center of changes to their address, legal name(s), marital status, major, and email address within 10 days of the event. It is imperative that students remain diligent in keeping the International Center informed of major events such as those listed above.

Travel

Students should meet with the International Center prior to traveling internationally to maintain status. Please see the travel section for more information.

Employment

Students may not engage in unauthorized work. Students should consult with their International Student Advisor prior to engaging in any form of employment to ensure they are being compliant. More information on employment is located in the employment section.

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Travel

F-1 students are able to travel both domestically or internationally. However, please remember that different documents and procedures are required for domestic (within the U.S.) and international (outside of the U.S.) travel.

Travel within the U.S.

Students preparing to travel within the U.S. should review the Domestic Travel Checklist below:

Domestic Travel Checklist

  • Your valid passport with an expiration date that is at least six months in the future of the date you are traveling.
  • Your most recent Form I-20.
  • Any State issued identification document you have received while in the United States (i.e., Social security card, Florida driver's license, etc.) 
Travel outside the U.S.

Students preparing to travel outside of the U.S. should review the International Travel Checklist below:

International Travel Checklist

  • Your valid passport with an expiration date that is at least six months in the future of the date you are traveling.
  • Your valid F-1 student visa with an expiration date that is at least six months in the future of the date you are traveling.
  • Your Form I-20 with travel signature for re-entry.
    • Check the 2nd page of your I-20 for travel signatures from a Flagler College DSO (i.e. someone from the International Center). If you are traveling internationally and do not have a travel signature, please come to the International Center before you depart.
    • The travel signature is an important part of your international travel as it indicates to U.S. Border Patrol Officers that the International Center is aware of your international travel. Please note that the I-20 travel signature is shown during RE-ENTRY to the United States.
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Employment

Students are able to work on or off campus with the appropriate authorization. Any student who wishes to work during their time at Flagler College will need to apply for a social security number. Students are encouraged to read through each option carefully to determine which type of employment is most appropriate for their situation.

On-Campus Employment

All F-1 students are able to work up to 20 hours a week while classes are in session (Fall & Spring semester), and up to 40 hours a week while classes are not in session (summer, winter, and spring breaks). The International Center does not need to approve any on-campus employment; however, students must receive a written letter of verification from both the International Center and Human Resources Department to apply for a social security card. More information on social security cards is located in the Social Security Information section.

Off Campus Employment

F-1 students are able to work off-campus with proper authorization. Students are able to choose between Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) for off-campus work. All off-campus work must be approved by the International Center prior to beginning employment. Students who wish to travel internationally while working off-campus must receive a travel endorsement signature from the International Center before they depart.

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Social Security Information

Any F-1 student who wishes to work in the United States during their time at Flagler College is required to obtain a U.S. Social Security Number. The International Center recommends reading through the Social Security Administration’s International Students and Social Security Numbers document for more information. 

Students with on-campus employment are required to follow specific steps to receive a Social Security Number. The Social Security Administration Office requires students to submit the following:

  1. Evidence of employment
    • A letter from Flagler College’s Human Resources Department
    • A letter from Flagler College International Center
  2. Valid Passport and Visa
  3. Form I-20
  4. A print out of electronic I-94
  5. Application for a Social Security Card

The closest Social Security Administration Office to Flagler College is located at 2428 Old Moultrie Road, St Augustine, Florida 32086.

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Obtaining a Driver’s License

International Students are able to apply for a Florida issued driver’s license during their time at Flagler College. However, please note that driving rules and regulations in the United States may be different than in the student’s home country. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of the rules of the road in the United States. Students are encouraged to read the state of Florida’s Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) Handbook before they attempt to obtain a U.S. driver’s license. 

Students are able to apply for a Florida-issued driver’s license at the St. John’s County Tax Collector's Office, located at 4030 Lewis Speedway St. Augustine, FL 32084. For more information, visit their page here.

Students should be prepared to present the following during their driver’s license appointment:

  1. Print out of electronic I-94
  2. Form I-20
  3. Valid Passport and Visa
  4. Cash, Check, or Money Order for processing fee
  5. A letter from the International Center confirming local address
  6. One of the following documents showing address in Florida to confirm residence. The following are acceptable:
    • Educational institution transcript forms for the current school year
    • Utility bills (cell phone, electric bill), not more than two months old
    • Mail from financial institutions; including checking, savings, or investment account statements, not more than two months old
    • Credit card statement

More information about obtaining a Florida issued driver’s license can be found on Florida’s Highway and Safety Motor Services website. 

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Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is defined as “any alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” CPT authorization may be granted as long as the experience is an integral part of the established curriculum for a respective course. All F-1 students who have completed one academic year of courses may be authorized to participate in CPT. Students currently in their first or second semester are not eligible for CPT. CPT may be part-time or full-time, but students who participate in 12 months of full-time CPT are ineligible for Optional Practical Training.

Overview of CPT requirements:

  1. Training is required of all students in curriculum.
  2. Training is required of all students in particular course or degree requirement.
  3. Training is not required, but CPT is taking place of a course for which student will receive credit.

Please review the International Center’s Curricular Practical Training Information Sheet for more information about CPT.

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Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Any F-1 student may apply for temporary employment that is directly related to the student’s major of study. Students are able to participate in OPT employment authorization for a total duration of 12 months per educational level (i.e. Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate).

There are two types of OPT available to F-1 students.

  1. Pre-Completion OPT: Students are able to request temporary employment in the United States while still in school. Students who want to participate in Pre-Completion OPT should plan to apply 90 days before their desired start date. While this form of employment may be off-campus, it is important to remember that students may only work up to 20 hours a week while the student is registered for classes. Students are able to apply for full-time employment (40 hours per week) during annual breaks (summer vacation) and school-recognized holidays. Please remember that any OPT completed before graduation will be deducted from Post-Completion OPT.
  2. Post-Completion OPT: Students are able to request temporary employment in the United States for 12 months after they graduate. Students must apply for OPT prior to the completion of their studies. Students may apply no earlier than 90 days before AND no later than 60 days after the program end date on their Form I-20. The International Center encourages students to apply for Post-Completion OPT as early as possible so that they may receive their Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in a timely manner.

Please review the International Center’s Optional Practical Training Information Sheet for more information about OPT.

Applying for OPT

Students are encouraged to apply for OPT early! Applying earlier provides students with a better chance of working during their desired training period. 

For both Pre-Completion OPT and Post-Completion OPT, students will need to complete a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, along with other government documents, to be considered for OPT. Students should plan to attend the International Center’s OPT Workshop to learn more about application requirements. Additionally, students should plan to meet with their International Student Advisor to review their OPT application materials.

For more information about OPT, check the OPT FAQ page.

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OPT FAQs
When should I apply for OPT?

Pre-Completion – you should apply 90 days before your desired start date.

Post-Completion – you should plan to apply 90 days before the program end date on your Form I-20. Please take into consideration other factors like meeting with your International Student Advisor, attending an OPT workshop, and reviewing your OPT application when planning your anticipated submission date.

How long does it take to receive a decision?

While there is no set timeline, USCIS indicates that processing can take anywhere from 4 weeks to 5 months, depending on the time your application is receipted, and the processing center receives it. Please refer to USCIS for more information about processing times.

What can I do if my application is rejected or denied?

There may be an opportunity to appeal or resubmit your application. Please schedule a time to meet with your International Student Advisor or visit the International Center immediately. Be sure to bring your rejection/denial notice to your meeting.

I need to change my address, who do I contact?

You will need to visit this website: https://www.uscis.gov/addresschange. Click on the “Change of Address” box and follow the instructions.

Can I travel internationally while my application is pending?

If you are traveling before the program end date on your I-20, travel should not pose a problem. Be sure you have a valid passport, visa, and that your Form I-20 has a valid travel signature.

The International Center seriously recommends against traveling while your OPT application is pending and it is after the program end date on your Form I-20.

Can I travel internationally while on OPT?

If you are planning to travel internationally while on OPT, you must be able to present the following documentation upon re-entry to the United States:

  • Form I-20 indicating your approved OPT (page 2)
  • Original EAD card (not a copy)
  • A letter from your employer confirming that they are aware of your travel and return
  • Valid passport
  • Valid F-1 visa
What do I need to know about my job search?

It is important for students to remember that your OPT experience must directly relate to your major (not minor) of study. The International Center recommends reaching out to Flagler College’s Center for Career Development for personalized assistance with their job search.

I still have questions!

Stop by the International Center to speak with an International Student Advisor or email InternationalCenter@flagler.edu to schedule an appointment.

 

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