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International Students

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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:

Sept 25, 2020 ICE published proposed changes in regulations that could affect F, J, & I visa holders.  There is a public comment period and we expect to learn more in future weeks as this is discussed. Modifications, lawsuits and revisions are likely. 

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Nearly 100 members of Congress submit letter to DHS/ICE demanding these restrictions are withdrawn.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


Dear Student,


The FAQ below includes answers to our most asked questions.


While the OCC campus remains closed, the Global Engagement Center at OCC remains committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for international students at OCC.  We're here to help.

1.  Will OCC reopen and have on-campus classes for Spring 2021?

The health and safety of our students, staff, and faculty remain our top priority.  OCC continues to wait for guidance from the state and the California Community College chancellor about the possibility of reopening, but currently, we are planning for a mostly online/remote spring 2021 semester.


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.  Check your OCC emails regularly for more updates.


2.  If Spring 2021 classes will be taught online, can I remain in the U.S? Can I return to the U.S.?

Yes!  ICE guidance released on July 15th allows continuing students to remain in the U.S. and take all online courses.


Continuing students who are currently abroad with a valid I-20 and active F-1 status may also return to the U.S. before the start of spring 2021. To obtain a new I-20 for travel, please complete the Mandatory Spring 2021 Continuing Student Check-in.


Continue reading below for more information about how this affects you as an F-1 student.


3.  I am a new student and have not arrived in the U.S. Can I plan to come to the U.S. for Spring 2021?
ALL new students, admitted fall 2020 or spring 2021 who are still abroad (not in  the U.S.) must fill out the Admitted Student Survey to let us know what you wish to do.  An adviser will follow up with you if you wish to receive an I-20. You should also review the New Student Checklist for imporant tips and tricks.

The most recent ICE guidance explains that new students should remain abroad if all courses will be online. However, OCC will not be 100% online for spring 2021, so if you wish to travel or apply for a visa, the GEC will support you. Please note, you assume all risks and responsiblities for travel and being denied admission to the U.S. at the port of entry.

4. 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 IEC@OCC Academic Bridge for new international students.


If you have been admitted, please submit the Admitted Student Plan Survey and review the Newly Admitted Student Checklist carefully.


5.  How should I register for classes?

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

6.  How many online, hybrid, or on-campus units/credits should I have so I can maintain status?

F-1 students can take ALL classes online for fall 2020 and spring 2021. There is NO on-campus requirement.


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

  • complete a minimum of 12 units
  • for concurrent enrollment, complete at least 7 units at OCC
  • Waitlisted classes DO NOT COUNT
  • 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/drop all classes, your I-20 MAY BE CANCELLED. Please consult an F-1 adviser.
7.  Since classes 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 Mandatory Spring 2021 Continuing Student Check-in to let us know your plan so we can best advise you.


Outside of the U.S.– RECENT UPDATE:

If you prefer, you CAN stay in your home country during fall/spring 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 #8 for more information about leave of absence and returning to the U.S. for a future term.


Staying in the U.S.:

You MUST COMPLETE 12 units minimum during fall and spring semster 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.


8.  Can I take a leave of absence for fall 2020 or spring 2021? I do not want to take any classes 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. immediately.  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 Mandatory Spring 2021 Continuing Student Check-in 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. 


9.  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 when instruction returns to in-person.


If you take a leave of absence, refer to question #8.  When you are ready to return to the U.S., please contact for next steps to return.


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


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

Once you have purchased insurance or completed the Mandatory Spring 2021 Continuing Student Check-in, allow 3-5 business days for the hold to be removed before registering for spring classes:


I will stay in the U.S. Spring 2021

  1. Purchase spring insurance at JCB Insurance Solutions
  2. Enter 'Orange Coast College'
  3. Select '2020-21 Plan Year'
  4. Select 'International Student' 

 I will take Spring 2021 classes ONLINE from ABROAD


Complete the Mandatory Spring 2021 Continuing Student Check-in so we can verify you are abroad, waive the insurance requirement and remove the hold.


11.  Can I or should I return to my home country during COVID-19? 

You should do whatever you think is best for you!  All students must complete the Mandatory Spring 2021 Continuing Student Check-in 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, many 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.


12.  I want to take a class at another school outside of OCC.

If you want to do concurrent enrollment at another school, visit the International Student Guides page and review the guidelines under 'Concurrent Enrollment – taking a class at another school."  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.
13.  Since Spring 2021 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 International Student Guides Page under "Working in the U.S." and sign up for an OPT workshop.


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

If you cannot find what you need here or on our International Student Guides Page, call our office at (714) 432-5940, email us at, chat live or make an appointment with an F-1 advisers/Academic Counselors.

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