Top of page
Skip to main content
PCC will be closed for an in-service day on Friday, August 18th. We will resume regular business hours on Monday, August 21st. Note: a Super Saturday in-person registration event will be held on August 19th, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Downtown Campus.
Two smiling students sit in a student lounge at a Pima campus

Current F-1 Students

Have questions about your F-1 status? Ask a Designated School Official (DSO).

A DSO is a regularly-employed member of the school administration designated by the head of a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school to provide recommendations to F students enrolled at the school regarding maintenance of nonimmigrant status, and to support timely and complete record keeping and reporting to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Only DSOs can sign F-1 student immigration documents, report student information/status change, approve authorized reduced course load (RCL), extend or terminate I-20s, authorize on-campus employment / OPT, etc.

You are responsible for maintaining legal F-1 status while studying at Pima Community College. The following information will be used for guidance only, as laws and regulations can change frequently. Contact the Center for International Education (CIE) with any questions or concerns before taking actions that may affect your F-1 student status.

  • If you fail to maintain Good Academic Standing and/or your Immigration status, your I-20 may be terminated, resulting in your immediate departure from the United States.
  • Be enrolled in a degree-seeking program or English as a Second Language (ESL) program and make satisfactory academic progress toward completion of this program by following a PCC degree plan. 
  • To maintain status, an F-1 student must “make normal progress.” Making normal progress includes, but is not limited to, enrolling in the proper courses required for degree completion, maintaining satisfactory academic progress, and continually meeting all institutional enrollment requirements.
  • You must maintain the cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least a 2.0 or required by your program, and complete a cumulative minimum of 67% of the credits/courses in which you enroll, or you are in danger of being put on warning, probation, and even termination of your I-20 record. 
  • Be enrolled full-time (minimum 12 credits) every Spring or Fall semester unless officially authorized by the PDSO or DSO in advance to take a reduced course load. 
  • At least 9 out of the 12 credits must be in a face-to-face on-campus delivery method; this includes in-person, hybrid, and self-paced in-person. 
  • If you drop or withdraw below 12 credits at any time during the Fall or Spring semester, it may result in an immediate termination of your I-20. 
  • You must complete 12 credits in the Fall or Spring semester with grades of A, B, C, D, or F.  No other grades are acceptable. 
  • You cannot retake a course you have previously passed unless it does not count towards the required 12 credits, i.e., if you want to retake a passed course (with a grade A, B, or C), you must take it in addition to the 12 required credits.
  • At least one class must start on the first day of the semester. 
  • Maintain and always carry your passport, I-94 card, and I-20. Please contact the Center for International Education if your documents are lost or stolen.
  • Seek employment (on or off-campus) only with the appropriate Center for International Education (CIE) authorization. Working off-campus without proper authorization may result in an immediate termination of your I-20 form. 
  • International students must always keep all their contact information, such as U.S. address, home country address, phone numbers, and email addresses current. Notify the CIE of any change in information, including address, academic, demographic, and legal information, within ten days of the change. 
  • Adhere to the PCC Student Code of Conduct.
  • Pay all tuition and fees in full by the payment deadline; otherwise, your registration could be dropped, and your I-20 could be terminated for under-enrollment. 
  • Have a valid travel signature/endorsement on your current SEVIS I-20 Form before leaving and re-entering the U.S.Depart the United States. Please refer to the Travel Signatures section for a signature request. 
  • If you are admitted to another school, you must request to transfer out within 60 days of your program completion date.  Your program completion date may be earlier than the end date printed on your I-20 form. If your program is complete, your I-20 will be completed and no longer be valid.
  • If you require an extension of your I-20 due to the need for additional time to finish your program of study, you must submit a written request to CIE 30 days before the end of the semester with an explanation of why you need the extra time. For example, the reason could be that you have changed your program of study.  An expired I-20 form will risk your immigration status. 
  • If you are finishing your current program of study and plan to pursue a different program at Pima, you must submit a written request to CIE 30 days before the end of the semester.  Your program completion date may be earlier than the end date printed on your I-20 form. If your program is complete, your I-20 will be completed and no longer be valid without an appropriate extension.
  • If you plan to apply for OPT, we advise you to carefully review the information in the employment and OPT section below. Additionally, please ensure that you contact the CIE office no later than 90 days before your program ends to start your OPT application. 

To be compliant with US regulations, F-1 students must inform the Center for International Education (CIE) of physical address or phone number changes within 10 days of the change. Post Office Box addresses are not accepted. If your address or phone number has changed in the past 10 days, please use your Pima email to fill out the Student Data Form as soon as possible. 

SEVIS, Student and Exchange Visitor Information System is a computer system for sharing information about international students and exchange visitors. It's used by:

  • Colleges and Universities
  • United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • Department of State (DOS)
FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. As amended in 1974 [20 U.S.C. § 1232g], this act protects the privacy of student records. FERPA does not apply to the information that Pima must report to SEVIS on F-1 students.
What is a Travel Signature?
  • You must have a valid travel signature on your I-20 form to return to the U.S. after you travel abroad.
  • The travel signature is on page two and it is signed by a DSO.
  • The signature confirms that you have valid F-1 Status.
  • Each signature is valid for one year.
  • F-1 students on OPT: the travel signature is valid for six months.
  • The travel signature is required for returning to the U.S. It is not required to leave the U.S.
  • If your current travel signature expires before you return to the U.S., you must request an updated one.

Travel Signature Eligibility

  • Have a valid I-20 form issued by Pima Community College
  • Meet immigration requirements of maintaining the F-1 status
  • Have submitted all required immigration documents. For example: signed I-20 form, F-1 visa, I-94 form, most recent passport, etc.
  • Be in good academic standing
  • Have a current U.S. address and a permanent non-U.S. address active with Pima Community College

Request a Travel Signature

  • We advise you to plan ahead and initiate the signature request process as early as possible. Please use your Pima email to submit the Travel Signature Request Form. A DSO will verify your eligibility and follow up with you shortly post-submission.

You may request a Reduced Course Load (RCL) in a specific semester to take less than full-time enrollment (fewer than 12 credits). The RCL must be approved by the Center for International Education (CIE) before you are authorized to drop or withdraw from a course. Any unauthorized drop or withdrawal below the full course load may result in an immediate termination of your I-20.

You must consult a DSO in the Center for International Education (CIE) before changing your schedule. The reasons that are allowed by SEVP/USCIS for RCL are below:

Initial Academic Difficulties

  • In your initial academic term, if you encounter some academic difficulties due to improper course level placement, initial difficulty with reading requirements, initial difficulty with the English language, or unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods, you may request a reduced course load in your first semester.
  • Upon reviewing your situation, your DSO will decide whether it is approved.
  • If approved, you must begin a full course load in the next term.

Temporary Illness or Medical Condition

  • May justify an interruption or reduction in a full course of study.
  • You must present a doctor's note specifically recommending you take a reduced course load in the current semester. The doctor's note must come from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or clinical psychologist.
  • Upon reviewing your situation, your DSO will decide whether it is approved.
  • It may be renewed once based on the medical information.
  • It cannot exceed two semesters aggregate.

Last Semester

  • It’s in your final semester, and you need less than a full-time course load to complete your program.
  • You must request the RCL at the beginning of the semester.

Please submit the Reduced Course Load Request form. A DSO will contact you shortly.

You should complete your program of study before the program end date on your SEVIS I-20 form. Sometimes, your I-20 end date is shortened if you complete your program before your I-20 end date. However, when you complete your program, your I-20 ends even if the date printed on your I-20 form differs from your program completion date, as it has been shortened in the SEVIS system.

On the other hand, If you do not complete your program on time and cannot get an extension, you are considered out of status.

You can become eligible for an extension if you have met all these requirements:

  • Applied to the Center for International Education (CIE) for an extension at least 30 days before the program completion date.
  • Continually maintained status.
  • Completion was delayed because of compelling academic or medical reasons.
Please complete this I-20 Extension Request Form. A DSO will contact you shortly.

To transfer to another school, you must maintain F-1 status at Pima until the transfer release date and be accepted by another SEVP-certified school.

NOTE: We do not complete SEVIS Transfer-in forms. We also do not transfer out completed or terminated records. It is your responsibility to provide the new school with copies of documents and information about your immigration status. We will only transfer records for students who meet the requirements outlined in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(8). If you are eligible for transfer, we will release your record to your transfer-in school after you send the Center for International Education (CIE) the following information:

  • Written confirmation of the acceptance to the new school
  • Email and phone number for the transfer-in school’s DSO
  • The SEVIS school code for the transfer-in school to ensure transfer to the correct school
  • Choose a transfer release date based on your academic needs, travel plans, and projected program start date at the transfer-in school.
You must also contact the DSO at your new school no later than 15 days before the program start date and register for classes. Your new school needs all the information to update the SEVIS record, including any change of address. Your new school will be able to create a Form I-20 issued for the reason of transfer. You should ask them for a new valid Form I-20 as quickly as possible, as the Form I-20 from Pima will no longer be valid after the transfer release date.

On-Campus Employment

F-1 students may not work off-campus but may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions. Students may find on-campus temporary employment or college work-study opportunities that are limited to 20 hours per week if they maintain F-1 status. For on-campus jobs, physical presence at the campus facilities is mandatory. Virtual or off-site work arrangements are not permissible for F-1 students. Please see a DSO if you have questions. 

Optional Practical Training, OPT

The Optional Practical Training (OPT) program offers F-1 students the opportunity for temporary employment that pertains to their academic field of study. It is recommended to review the USCIS OPT page in detail to become familiar with the types of OPT and application procedures. It should be noted that Pima Community College is a junior college and does not meet the eligibility criteria for the STEM OPT Extension. Please see a DSO if you have questions.

Back to main content Back to top