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International Students

Whether you are already on F-1 visa, or planning to apply for an F-1 visa, we are here to help you navigate through OCC!

Need more Covid-19 Help and Support?

Global Engagement Center

Virtual Front Desk: NOW OPEN!

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FALL 2020 Virtual Front Desk Schedule
​10AM - 2PM
​2PM - 6PM
​10AM - 2PM
2PM - 6PM

ICE News Updates:

July 24, 2020 ICE published press release to continue March 2020 guidance for the Fall 2020 semester. Initial status (new) students taking all classes 100% online should remain in their home country for Fall semester.  Continuing students can take all their units online from within the USA during fall semester.

July 22, 2020 Over 40 Educational associations send letter to DHS asking for clarification on several topics of OPT and travel.

July 14, 2020 The first hearing before the judge for the MIT/Harvard case. The Federal Government agreed to rescind the press release and changes in guidance in the MIT/Harvard case.

 July 13, 2020 Nevada System of Higher Education asks ICE to rescind rule change for international students.  Lawsuit details. More than a dozen tech companies file brief backing the MIT/Harvard lawsuit.

July 10, 2020 Hearing before judge scheduled for next Tuesday (July 14, 2020) in MIT/Harvard lawsuit.  State of California sues on behalf of CSU and CA Community College Systems. OCC GEC hosts online town halls for F-1 students.

July 9, 2020 University of California announces they will sue USDHS/ICE and also seek temporary restraining order & both temporary and permanent injunctions to bar ICE from enforcing this order.

Nearly 100 members of Congress submit letter to DHS/ICE demanding these restrictions are withdrawn.

July 8, 2020 Special Message from the Coast District Chancellor Dr. Weispfenning
July 7, 2020 Message from OCC President Suarez sent to all OCC students. Lawsuits filed against USDHS/ICE by MIT and Harvard asking for a temporary restraining order to prevent the new rules from going into effect.
July 6, 2020 The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (ICE) issued a News Release signaling a change in procedures that will apply to International Students for the Fall 2020 semester in response to COVID-19.  

COVID-19 Help and Support


Dear Student,


The Global Engagement Center (GEC) is delighted to share that the July 6th Guidance from SEVP/ICE has been rescinded (cancelled/revoked).  The FAQ below includes answers to our most asked questions about fall 2020.


We remain committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for international students at OCC. While the OCC campus remains closed until further notice, the GEC is here to help.


COVID 19 FAQ for International Students:

1.  Is it true that ICE has cancelled the recent rules released on July 6th?

Yes! On July 14th, ICE agreed to rescind their new rules released on July 6th.  New guidance released on July 15th allows continuing students to remain in the U.S. and take all online courses. Continue reading below for more information about how this affects you as an F-1 student.

2.  Can I still apply to OCC as an international student?

Yes, visit international admissions for instructions on how to apply. And learn more about our exclusive new program OCC World Class for new international students.

If you are in your home country

Recent ICE guidelines advise that new students currently outside of the U.S. should NOT travel to the U.S. If you are admitted, you can enroll online, but we will send you an I-20 for spring 2021 instead. If you already received an I-20 for fall 2020, please contact us immediately to discuss your options.


If you in the U.S. (transfer students or change of status)

As long as you are in the U.S., you may begin fall semester and maintain your I-20. We suggest you do NOT travel before fall term begins.


3.  Will Fall 2020 semester be online?

On May 15, CCCD Chancellor, John Weispfenning, announced that OCC, GWC, and CCC will offer most classes online for fall 2020. Only classes that cannot be taught online may be offered on campus.  See the latest message from the chancellor.

According to the updated ICE/SEVP guidelines, F-1 students may take a fully online course load (no on-campus credits/units are required). Refer to #5 for more guidelines to maintain status.


While the OCC campus remains closed, most OCC services remain open to help you remotely online or by phone.  We hope the OCC campus will reopen for the Spring 2021 semester with any necessary safety measures.  Visit the Global Engagement Center and OCC webpages and check your OCC emails regularly for more updates


4.   How should I register for classes?

The MyCoast registration tool has changed recently, here are some helpful tips to get enrolled successfully:

5.  How many online, hybrid, or on-campus units/credits should I have so I can stay in the U.S. and maintain status?

F-1 students can take ALL classes online for fall 2020. There is NO on-campus requirement.


Here are some tips to help you enroll and maintain valid F-1 status and I-20:

    • You must COMPLETE 12 units minimum

    • For concurrent enrollment, you must complete 7 units minimum at OCC

    • Waitlisted classes DO NOT COUNT

    • Classes are filling fast, enroll NOW and if you need help, you can meet an academic counselor later

    • If you need help choosing classes see an Academic Counselor for help

    • If you are struggling or wish to drop any classes, review the Reduced Course Load information under our "Maintaining Status" Guides, and then you MUST MEET AN F-1 ADVISER. DO NOT DROP unless you speak with and F-1 adviser first.

    •  If you drop below 12 units or choose not to enroll for fall 2020, your I-20 MAY BE CANCELLED. Please consult an F-1 advisor.

6.   Since fall semester will be mostly online, do I have to take 12 units to maintain status?

YES. If you want to maintain status, you must COMPLETE 12 units minimum. Please complete the Continuing Students Mandatory Survey to let us know your plan for fall so we can best advise you about your specific situation:

OUTSIDE of the U.S. for fall 2020 – RECENT UPDATE:

If you prefer, you CAN stay in your home country during fall semester and take classes online. You MUST COMPLETE 12 units of online coursework to keep your I-20 active while outside of the U.S.


If you prefer to enroll in FEWER than 12 units or take a fall semester off, your I-20 will be temporarily cancelled. Refer to question #7 for more information about leave of absence and returning to the U.S. for spring 2021.


STAYING in the U.S. for fall 2020:

You MUST COMPLETE 12 units minimum during fall 2020 to maintain your I-20. Refer to #5 for more guidelines to maintain status.


If you are struggling or wish to drop any classes, review the Reduced Course Load information under our "Maintaining Status" Guides, and then you MUST MEET AN F-1 ADVISER. DO NOT DROP unless you speak with and F-1 adviser first. 


7.   Can I take a leave of absence for fall 2020? I do not want to take any classes until spring 2021 or until classes return to in-person instruction.

If you will enroll in 0 (zero) units or fewer than 12 units (and are not eligible for RCL), your I-20 MUST be CANCELLED (Authorized Early Withdrawal), and you MUST LEAVE the U.S. before the start of fall 2020.  This cancellation is neutral and will not affect your future plans to return.


If you remain in the U.S. and do not enroll in any classes or complete fewer than 12 units (without authorized RCL), your I-20 WILL be TERMINATED. This is a NEGATIVE Termination and you may face serious consequences related to your visa and status.


To request a leave of absence, please complete the Continuing Students Mandatory Survey so we can best advise you about your specific situation. Once you are ready to return, contact us again and we will advise you on next steps to return.


8.  I read about the 5 months rule for my visa. If I am outside of the U.S. for more than 5 months will my visa and I-20 be cancelled?

At this time, ICE guidance still allows for an exception of the 5-month rule. This may change at any time. However, if you complete 12 units/credits while abroad, we will keep your I-20 active and you will be able to use the same I-20 and valid F-1 visa to return for spring 2021.


If you take a leave of absence, refer to question #7.  When you are ready to return to the U.S., please contact and we may be able to reactivate your I-20 so you can return.


We strongly discourage returning to the U.S. mid-fall semester as you will not have medical coverage.


9.   I have a hold on my account for insurance, what should I do?

Once you have purchased insurance or completed the waiver, allow 3-5 business days for the hold to be removed before registering for fall classes:


I will stay in the U.S. Fall 2020


Purchase fall insurance at JCB Insurance Solutions: We recommend you purchase only fall coverage at this time.

  1. enter 'Orange Coast College'
  2. Select '2019-2020 Plan Year'
  3. Select 'International Student' 

 I will take Fall 2020 classes ONLINE from ABROAD


If you are not physically in the U.S. you may choose to waive the insurance requirement before enrollment:

  1. Complete the COVID-19 Travel Report to tell us your plans
  2. Submit Insurance Purchase Waiver


10.  Can I or should I return to my home country for fall 2020? 

You should do whatever you think is best for you!  If you choose to complete the Fall 2020 semester abroad, please complete the Continuing Students Mandatory Survey so the Global Engagement Center at OCC can best advise you about your I-20, travel signatures, maintaining status, and hopefully returning soon.


Remember, travel regulations and self-isolation requirements may change at any time. There is no guarantee you will be able to reenter the U.S. until the COVID-19 crisis has passed and you may be required to self-isolate for a period. Additionally, most U.S. embassies remain closed and you may not be able to renew your visa if required. Please check the CDCState Department, and OCC for updates about the virus, travel, and courses/instruction.


11.  I want to take a class at Coastline College (CCC) or Golden West College (GWC), schools within the Coast Community College District, this Summer or Fall 2020 term.

As a student at the CCCD district, you can register in classes at any of the 3 sister colleges without additional paperwork or applications. Please note:

  • You must complete 7 units minimum at OCC and 12 units total to maintain F-1 status. Refer to #5 for more guidelines for maintaining status.
  • We recommend that you meet with an Academic Counselor to make sure the courses you choose will transfer to your program.

12.  I want to take a class outside of the Coast Community College District for summer or fall.

If you want to take concurrent enrollment course at another school outside of our district, you must meet with an academic counselor online first for approval. Remember, you must complete 7 units minimum at OCC and 12 units total to maintain F-1 status. Refer to #5 for more guidelines for maintaining status.


13.  Since fall 2020 will be mostly online, will international students pay a lower tuition amount?

No, we do not have the flexibility to lower the non-resident tuition international students pay.  Please visit the Enrollment Fees page for detailed information on tuition and fees.  Online classes will help you continue to make progress towards your academic goal and are no less valuable than they were before.  We encourage you to apply for scholarships in the Spring semester; OCC  is unique  in awarding over $500,000 in scholarships to continuing students each year.


14.  I am struggling financially with housing, groceries, tuition, technology, etc. Am I eligible for the Cares Act or any other financial support?

International students are not eligible for the Cares Act. However, International students are an important part of the OCC community, and we may be able to help you with some challenges including laptops, & equipment, groceries & supplies (Pirate's Cove), and other resources. 


If you are struggling and think you may need support like the things mentioned above, send a detailed email to so we can see what kind of support we can offer.


15.  Does the OCC international health insurance policy cover COVID 19 testing?  Treatment?  Do I need to do anything special?

Yes, AETNA will waive costs for COVID-19 diagnostic testing for patients who meet the CDC guidelines for testing. Aetna also confirmed that treatment of the virus is covered.


If you are having symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you should take every precaution recommended by the CDC to protect yourself and others. Aetna members should use telemedicine to speak with a doctor at 1-800-556-1555.


It is a good idea to set up your insurance account and print your insurance ID card to carry in your pocket. Read more about how to print your insurance card and find doctors on our International Student Insurance page.


16.  Will my eligibility for OPT be affected if I am out of the country?

Guidance about OPT may change at any moment. As of July 17, you will be eligible for OPT if you are completing an OCC program or transfer requirements and at least 1 year in valid F-status.  If you are studying online while abroad, you may still be eligible for OPT.


Read more about OPT on our Current International Student Guide Page under "Working in the U.S." and contact an F-1 adviser if you have additional questions.


17.  Can I take (or finish CPT hours from spring 2020) a CPT class in fall 2020?

Unfortunately, CPT Classes will not be offered during the Fall 2020 semester. Students who need only a CPT class to complete their program should contact an F-1 advisor.


18.  I could not find the answer to my question(s) here.

We hope you find what you need here. If not you can check other pages on our site such as the current students page, you can also call our office at (714) 432-5940 or email us at You can also chat live or make an appointment with F-1 advisers and Academic Counselors. Please allow 2 days for a response as we are carefully reviewing each email.

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Connect with others by joining & liking the ​ OCC Global Engagement Center facebook page.  and OCC international student Instagram accounts.