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  • ​​​M​ust enroll in a full course of study. If you are unable to complete a full-time course load, first speak with a DSO. Reduced Course Loads are available but must be approved by a DSO prior to dropping below full-time. Students dropping below full-time before speaking with a DSO are not eligible for a Reduced Course Load (RCL). 

  • Maintain Academic Progress. F-1 students must maintain satisfactory academic progress. A student is placed on academic and or progress probation/dismissal. Students who have three consecutive semesters with a RSCCD Total GPA of below 2.0 at the end of the spring semester are dismissed.  

  • ​​Cannot work off-campus without prior authorization. Students may work on-campus up to 20 hours/week. After graduating, students may participate in Optional Practical Training (OPT). Speak with a DSO during your last semester. 

  • Always keep a valid passport. Apply to renew your passport if it will be expiring within 6 months. ​


Your DSO should be the first person to talk to if you have questions about the legal requirements of your stay in the United States. Your DSO can help in answering your questions or help you find someone who can help. 

F-1 students should speak with their DSO if you are planning to do any of the following: 

  • Change your major, program, or degree level. 
  • Change your education level. 
  • Transfer to a new school or take a leave of absence. 
  • Take a break from school. 
  • Travel outside the United States. 
  • Move to a new address. 
  • Request a program extension. 

A student must inform a DSO within 10 days of any of the following changes above. ​

​​Unauthorized off-campus employment is strictly prohibited by USCIS and can result in I-20 termination as a direct consequence of not maintaining F-1 status. Employment is available for F-1 international students, but it is important that international students speak with an International Student Advisor prior to taking part in any employment. Generally, on-campus employment is the primary means for an international student to work while studying.  

Please read below for general information on the common types of employment for SCC international students. For further details, visit the International Student Office in Room A-203. 

On-Campus Employment

On-campus employment is the most common type of employment our students engage in. It does not require a student to submit a Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization. On-campus job availability is limited.  The International Student Office can provide guidance in finding a job on campus. 

What are the basic guidelines for on-campus employment? 
3 main guidelines: 

  • Must work on the school premises: 
  • Work takes place at school location. Could be for an on-campus commercial business, like a bookstore or cafeteria, as long as the work directly provides services for students. 
  • Employment located on-campus that does not directly involve services to students (such as construction work) does not qualify as on-campus employment. 
  • May work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session.  
  • Should report their work to campus DSO and receive a certification letter to present to the Social Security Administration to be able to receive a Social Security Number (steps for an F-1 to obtain a SSN: 

When does a student become eligible for on-campus employment? 

An F-1 student may begin working as much as 30 days before the start of a program of study. They should inform the DSO before they begin work.  

International students must maintain a 2.0 GPA—students falling below 2.0 will be notified to stop working and can regain eligibility after GPA is above 2.0. 

For how long may an F-1 student continue to work on campus? 

An F-1 student who is enrolled in school, maintains status and follows the guidelines for on-campus employment may continue to work. The F-1 student should keep a DSO informed of any changes in employer and hours, however. 

If a student fails to maintain their status (unauthorized below 12 units), they are no longer eligible to work on campus. 

Students may only work on-campus until their program end date listed on their Form I-20 or up until their transfer out date if transferring to a new school. 

How does an F-1 student get started to work on-campus? 

Step 1: Find a job! Many departments on-campus hire international student assistants, but it is the student's responsibility to ask the departments if they are hiring. Step 2: Once you've been given a job offer, please bring the job letter to the International Office and request an enrollment verification letter. If you do not have a Social Security Number, you will use these documents along with your Form I-20, passport, visa, and I-94 to apply for one at a local Social Security Administration (SSA) Office. You may not start working until you receive your Social Security Card and provide it to the Job Placement Office.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) 

​Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a type of employment authorization that allows an international student in F-1 status authorization to work in the United States for up to 12 months in employment related to their major field of study, upon completion of their program. Students must apply for work authorization by completing Form I-765 to receive an Employment Authorization Document (aka EAD card). Preparation and timing is especially important as the application processing is currently taking longer than 3 months.  

What are the basic eligibility requirements for OPT employment? 

  • Students must attend school for at least one academic year. 
  • You must complete and submit a graduation petition for an Associate Degree (AA/AS) or Certificate of Achievement (CA) during your last semester. 
  • Students must seek employment in their related major of study. 
  • Students can submit an application as early as 90 days before the end date of their final semester, and no later than 60 days after the end of their last semester. Currently, USCIS is taking a minimum of 3 months to process OPT applications. Plan accordingly!  
  • Students should not travel outside of the U.S. with a pending OPT application; this is a sign that the student has abandoned their application.  
  • Students may not begin a new program of study while on OPT. If a student begins a new program at another school before their OPT authorization ends, they will forfeit the remaining time. 

Make an appointment with a DSO in the International Student Office for the filing instructions and help in completing the documentation requirements. Call 714-628-5050 to make an appointment.  

SCC does not currently offer CPT opportunities. 

OPT Resource: Study in the States - Training Opportunities 

Santiago Canyon College's: Career Counseling  

Counseling and Career Development ​at Santiago Canyon College is here to help students with the career development and exploration processes. They assist with: ​
  • Career exploration and ​assistance choosing a major 
  • Linking college majors and training programs that meet individual student needs 
  • Job preparation services including: 
    • Job search skills 
    • Resume and cover letter writing 
    • ​Networking and interviewing techniques 

​​​F-1 International Students must enroll and complete a minimum of 12 units each fall and spring semester. Students who start at SCC in the summer, must enroll and complete a minimum of 6 units in their first summer session. Summer is considered an optional session unless it is your first or last session while at SCC. ​

Beginning Fall 2023, all F-1 international students with an active Form I-20 must enroll in a minimum of 9 units of on-campus classes. Students must adhere to SEVP’s existing regulations regarding online learning, found at 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(6).

An online, or distance learning, course for international student regulations means a course primarily offered through technology and does not require the student's physical attendance for classes, examinations, or other purposes integral to completing the class. For the purpose of international student regulations, an online class with at least one documented on-campus meeting counts as an in-person.

  • ​No more than the equivalent of one class or three credits per semester may be counted toward the full course of study requirement if the class is taken on-line or through distance education.
  • F-1 students must attend and complete at least 12 units per semester. W’s (Withdrawals) do not count towards the 12-unit minimum towards full-time status.
  • ​Students completing the semester with less than 9 units of on-campus coursework face having their SEVIS record (Form I-20) terminated.

Students need to meet the on-campus requirement. Students not complying with the in-person requirements are considered out of status and face having their F-1 status terminated.

Academic Progress

Students must maintain normal academic progress. This means SCC students are expected to follow Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) as outlined in the college catalog. 

A student's academic standing and progress is calculated at the end of the fall and spring semesters (calculations are not done after the summer session or intersession), based only on the SCC/SAC units and cumulative (RSCCD Total) grade point average (GPA). Academic and Progress Probation calculations begin after a student has attempted 12 units or more at SCC/SAC. Students are placed on Academic Probation when their RSCCD Total GPA for all SCC/SAC coursework falls below 2.0. Students are placed on Progress Probation when the percentage of coursework at SCC/SAC has an entry of "W", "I", "NP", and "NC" which reaches or exceeds fifty percent (50%) of the coursework attempted. 

If a student is academically dismissed and not allowed to enroll for the next semester, their SEVIS record will be terminated. Resources are available! If you are finding classes to be too difficult, please speak with your DSO and academic counselor. Our goal is to provide advisement before it is too late.

International Student Academic Counselor 

A dedicated International Student Counselor is available in the Counseling Center (D-106). Maria Chaidez, is available to assist International Students in selecting a program of study to complete their educational and career objectives. A counselor can help students explore life goals, clarify educational and career plans, and advise in course selection. Counselors are also available to assist students with problems that may affect their academic success.


Maria Chaidez 

General & International Counselor 

​A.A., Fullerton College 

B.A., California State University, Fullerton  M.S., University of La Verne 

Reduced Course Loads (RCLs) 

In accordance to 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iii), there are some situations that allow a student to drop below full-time. Specific circumstances may include: 

  • Illness or medical condition (maximum approval: 12 months) 
  • Improper Course Placement 
  • Initial difficulty with academic requirements or American teaching methods 
  • To complete course of study in current term 

These situations must be documented and approved with the International Office before dropping below 12 units. Students approved for RCLs due to academic-related reasons must be enrolled in a minimum of 6 units. Please speak to your Designated School Official for more information. 

University Transfer 

Looking to transfer to a new school? Contact a DSO for instructions on transferring your SEVIS record. Note: you must be in status and have an active I-20 in order to be eligible for transfer. You must maintain 12 units of enrollment until the end of the term prior to transferring; failure to do so will result in the loss of your F-1 status. You must request a transfer no later than 60 days after the last day of class for each term and you must begin at your new school within 5 months of your last class attendance at Santiago Canyon College.

SEVIS Transfer Out Form.pdf

​​​Opening a Bank Account

You will be requested to present the following documentation to open a bank account at most U.S. banks: 

  • Money to deposit 

  • Your passport and one other form of identification 

  • Printout of Form I-94 (arrival/departure record) or I-94 card 

  • Form I-20 

  • Local mailing address: be sure you know all address ​details (street name and number, apartment number, town zip code). Bring proof that this is your address, such as, a signed lease or a letter you have received. 

  • Taxpayer Identification Number or Social Security Number – required by some but not all banks. 

There are many banks to choose from in the United States such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citibank, and Chase.  Below are ATM’s and branches which are close by our school campus: 

Bank of America Financial Center + ATM | 4825 E Chapman Ave, Orange CA 92869 

U.S. Bank (inside Albertson's) | 8440 E Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92869 

Chase | 18511 E Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92869 

For students who work on-campus: 

SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union | 2512 E Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92869

Getting a CA Driver’s License 

The State of California does not recognize an International Driving Permit (IDP) as a valid driver license (DL). California does recognize a valid driver license that is issued by a foreign jurisdiction (country, state, territory) of which the license holder is a resident. 

You are allowed to drive on an international driver’s license only for a limited time. The exact time restrictions you should verify with a DMV representative. 

In order to apply for a driver’s license: 

  • Visit your local California (CA) DMV office 

  • Complete a Driver License or Identification Card Application (Form DL-44) 

  • Provide proof of your identity 

  • Required documents you must provide to the officer: Valid Passport, Visa, current I-20, and I-94 

  • Failure to provide all required documents can result in being denied and having to come back and doing it all over again! 

  • Pay the driver’s license fee 

  • Pass the written test 

  • Pass the road test 

The California Driver Handbook is a key to success in getting your California driver’s license. What is covered in this handbook? Everything that you must know in order to pass the written test. This handbook is available at 

More information: ​

OCBus – SCC College Students Ride Free! 


Full time students (12+ Units) - $5.00 

Part time students (below 12 units) - $4.30 

SCC students can ride the Orange County public bus routes for free during their enrolled semesters. Students can activate their bus pass using the OCBus phone app or by activating their SCC ID card in room E-102. ​