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Phone: 919-536-7264
Fax: 919-536-7281

Center for the Global Learner
Durham Technical Community College
1637 East Lawson Street
Durham, NC 27703

Information for Current Students

All students holding the F-1 student visa are required to maintain their status according to federal immigration law. Please review the documents listed below:

  1. Responsibilities of Students in F-1 Visa Status
  2. Options for those whose I-20 is expiring
  3. Travel advisory

Responsibilities of F-1 Students Under SEVIS

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All students holding the F-1 student visa are required to maintain their status according to immigration law.

What is SEVIS?

SEVIS is the national database maintained by the United States government to keep track of students attending U.S. schools.  Durham Technical Community College is required by law to update a student’s record regularly in SEVIS.

Maintaining Your Legal Status

  1. Keep your passport, I-20, and other immigration documents current. If you need to leave the country, you will need a Designated School Official (DSO) signature on your I-20, and possibly a new I-20. Please make an appointment for this purpose.  If you have not maintained your status, we cannot sign the I-20.  If you plan to transfer to another school upon your return, you must let us know so that you can be officially “released” in SEVIS and can then obtain a new I-20 from the new school.

  2. Take a full course load of at least 12 credit hours both Fall and Spring semesters unless PRIOR approval has been received from a DSO.   Summer semester is required only for those beginning their studies at that time, and those students should register for at least 8 credit hours.

  3. Only 3 credit hours of on-line courses are permitted in any semester, as part of the 12 credit hour requirement. Additional online courses may be taken, but the credits do not count toward the 12 credit hour requirement.

  4. Any leaves of absence and reduced course loads for medical reasons or other reasons must be approved in advance  by the Director of International Student Services or another DSO. There are certain regulations we must follow. (Important:  Approval cannot be granted by an academic advisor.)

  5. If you change your program of study, you must obtain a new I-20.  If you need to extend your studies beyond the original date authorized on your I-20, you must request an extension of stay and show new financial support documents before the completion date.  An extension cannot be granted after your completion date.  A letter from your academic advisor explaining the reasons may also be required.

  6. Report any changes of legal name, address, telephone numbers, and email address to the director of International Student Services, as we must update your information in SEVIS.  Do not rely on a new registration form each semester for this purpose.

  7. Notify the Director of International Student Services when you are planning to leave Durham Tech for any reason.  We must notify the USCIS through the SEVIS system.

  8. Keep your health insurance and driver’s license (if you have one) valid throughout your stay in the United States. Observe all federal, state and local laws.  We must report criminal activity.

  9. You have been admitted to the United States for “duration of status,” which means as long as you are pursuing a full course of study and making normal progress toward completion, plus any time working in authorized “Optional Practical Training” (if you qualify).  If you fail to maintain your status, you will become “out-of-status.”    Visit the USCIS web at for more information.


  1. You are not permitted to work off campus in your first year as an F-1 student. Although on-campus employment for under 20 hours per week is permitted, Durham Tech rarely has an on-campus job available. Working illegally off campus will put you “out-of-status.”

  2. If you are experiencing economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances, you may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) authorizing off-campus work. You must have been in F-1 status for one full academic year, be in good academic standing, demonstrate that employment will not interfere with your studies, and explain to the USCIS the reasons for your economic hardship. There is a substantial fee for this application and some students are not approved. You will also need a new I-20. Please schedule an appointment for this purpose, and allow several months for a response from USCIS.

  3. You may apply for 12 months of temporary employment called Optional Practical Training (OPT) in your field of study as you near completion. Application is made no earlier than 90 days before completion of studies and no later than 60 days after completion. To be eligible, you must have been in F-1 student status for at least nine months, and the employment must be directly related to the major area of study indicated on your I-20. Non-degree students are not eligible. You must continue to report any address or other changes to Durham Tech during this period, as Durham Tech is required to continue maintaining your records.

  4. Any Employment Authorization Documents approved by USCIS for F-1 students are automatically terminated when you transfer to another school.

F-2 Dependents

F-2 dependents (spouse and children) of an F-1 student are not eligible for employment at any time. If an F-2 dependent wishes to take credit courses leading to a degree, the F-2 dependent should apply for a change of status to F-1. F-2 dependents are permitted to take courses of a recreational nature only, and may not pursue degree-seeking courses before the F-1 approval is received.

Transferring to Another School

  1. You are eligible to transfer to another school if you have reported to the school that issued your original I-20 and have not violated your F-1 status.

  2. Please notify the Director of International Student Services of your intention.  The college must “release” your record in SEVIS before the new school can issue a new I-20.  It is NOT advisable to have Durham Tech put you in “transfer status” in SEVIS until you have been officially accepted by the new school and are definite about your plans, as it is very difficult to reverse the process.

  3. If you are transferring into Durham Tech from another school, the college cannot issue an I-20 to you until the previous school releases your record in SEVIS. Durham Tech does not admit students who are “out-of-status” at another school.

  4. Employment authorization documents approved by USCIS for F-1 students are automatically terminated when you transfer to another school.

If you have questions regarding your F-1 student visa status, please contact Heidi White at 919-536-7200, ext. 4052 or

Durham Technical Community College
1637 East Lawson Street
Durham, NC 27703

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