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​​​​​It is important for International students to maintain their visa status by following the US federal regulations as outlined in 8 CFR 214.2(f). There is a lot of information within these regulations, but our office is here to assist in summarizing and advising these rules. ​

  • ​​​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. ​

TALK WITH YOUR DSO FIRST 

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: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/obtaining-a-social-security-number). 

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 

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