We want to make you feel at home in Reno, and in that process, direct you to local and College resources that can support your success in your studies, social life and personal goals.
You may have heard that Reno is "the biggest little city in the world" and that is certainly true for the TMCC community too! We welcome you to ask questions, be an active member of this community and to be open to change. And remember: we are here to help; you just need to reach out to us!
If you are a TMCC student currently on an F-1 visa, you will want to make sure you understand how to maintain your F-1 visa status. This means becoming more familiar with the immigration and visa regulations that apply to you as an F-1 international student at TMCC.
The information below addresses some important information about your F-1 visa status.
- The Basics of Maintaining Your F-1 Status
- Leaves of Absence
- Domestic Travel
- International Travel
- Leaving TMCC
The Basics of Maintaining Your F-1 Status
As an F-1 student at TMCC, it is your responsibility to become familiar with the immigration rules of the F-1 visa status. TMCC is here to guide you through that process and welcomes your questions at any time.
Note: International Admissions (located in the Admissions & Records Office, Red Mountain Building, room 319) handles appointments or questions regarding your F-1 visa status.
- Passport: Must have a passport that is valid for at least six months into the future.
- F-1 Visa: Does not need to be valid while you are in the U.S., but must be valid any time you exit the U.S. and wish to return.
- I-94: Should have the notation of F-1 "D/S" (Duration of Status). This means that your F-1 status is valid as long as you are in status as a student at a school with an F-1 program.
- I-20: Valid for 3 years at TMCC. You must make satisfactory academic progress to complete your program in this time period. You must have your I-20 signed each time you travel outside the U.S.
- Enrollment: You are required to enroll at TMCC full-time (a minimum of 12 credits) except during regular vacation periods (Winter, Spring, and Summer Break). You may not audit (take class for no grade) or withdraw to drop below 12 credits without the permission of International Admissions. Note: Be sure to read the allowable exceptions to full-time enrollment in the section below.
- Attendance: You must attend classes for the entire term. Failure to attend will be a violation of full-time status.
- Online Classes: Full-time F-1 students enrolled in 12 credits may not take more than 3 credits of online classes per term.
- Academic Progress: You must make satisfactory academic progress toward your declared academic program by successfully completing courses pertaining to your degree program within the time period on the I-20.
- On-campus employment is limited to a maximum of 20 hours per week during the academic year (Spring and Fall semester) and 40 hours per week during official vacation periods (Winter, Spring and Summer Break).
- Off-campus employment must be preapproved by International Admissions. Refer to the International Student Employment page for more detailed employment information.
As an F-1 student, you must report the changes below to International Admissions, so it can be updated in the immigration database (SEVIS System).
- Personal Information: change of address, name, email or phone number. Report within 10 days.
- Academic Information: change of degree level or program, expiration of I-20 document (refer to “program end date” on page 1 of the I-20), transfer to a different U.S. institution, concurrent enrollment with another U.S. institution, changes in type of funding, enrolling in less than a full-time course load.
- Immigration Information: renewal of passport or visa, change of immigration status.
Exceptions to Full-time Enrollment
F-1 international students are required to be enrolled at TMCC for a minimum of 12 credits per term (Spring and Fall Semesters) throughout the academic year. Read carefully the only allowable exceptions, all of which require preapproval from International Admissions.
Reduced Course Load
Federal regulations allow F-1 students to take a reduced course load or no courses in these very specific and limited circumstances:
- Academic difficulty
- Medical condition
- Final term
- Concurrent enrollment (note that enrollment must be equivalent to full-time even if partially or not enrolling at TMCC for the term.)
Students must be preapproved for a reduced course load before dropping their courses for the term. For detailed information and application instructions, complete the Application for a Reduced Course Load and submit it to International Admissions.
Leaves of Absence (Temporary Absences from the U.S.)
|Less Than 5 Months||More Than 5 Months|
|Students who leave the U.S. and return within 5 months to continue their studies at TMCC must follow these guidelines for departing and reentering the U.S.||Students who plan to leave the U.S. and be gone for more than 5 months, must follow these guidelines for departing and reentering the U.S.|
Departure from the U.S.
Proof of Departure
Your SEVIS record will be terminated for "authorized early withdrawal". If your absence from the U.S. is more than 5 months, you are not be eligible for reactivation of your SEVIS record.
Departure from the U.S.
Proof of Departure
Domestic Travel: Traveling Inside the U.S.
For travel within the U.S., we highly recommend that students carry with them the following:
- Passport (valid for 6 months into the future unless your country of citizenship is exempt from the 6-month requirement)
- Print out your I-94 record
- I-20 signed for travel (travel signature is valid for one year)
- Print out your proof of current registration from MyTMCC
International Travel: Traveling Outside the U.S.
For travel outside the U.S., students must travel with the following:
- Passport (valid for at least 6 months into the future)
- Some countries are exempt from the 6-month passport validity requirement; please contact us for more information.
- Valid F-1 Visa
- Your F-1 visa must be valid on the date of your reentry to the U.S.
- If you have a valid F-1 visa in an expired passport, you can enter with that F-1 visa, as long as you travel with both documents (the expired passport with the valid visa and your new passport).
- Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa requirement.
- Your F-1 visa can expire while you are in the U.S., but as long as you follow the immigration rules of your F-1 status, you can remain in the U.S.
- If you need to renew your visa, follow the guidelines outlined in the Visa Renewals section.
- Travel Signature
- Your I-20 must be signed for travel by TMCC International Admissions. Travel signatures are valid for one year (except for students on OPT whose travel signature is only valid for six months).
- I-20s are signed for travel on page 2 of the I-20.
- Proof of current registration
- Print out from MyTMCC.
- Note that students in the Optional Practical Training program (OPT) have additional travel requirements.
- U.S. Embassy or Consulate: Your F-1 visa cannot be renewed in the U.S. You must renew it at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
- Specifics: Visa instructions and procedures vary among embassies/consulates; be sure to review the specific instructions of the U.S. Embassy/Consulate where you will renew your F-1 visa.
- Third Country National: You are considered a "third country national" visa applicant if you renew your U.S. visa in a country other than your home country. If you plan to renew your U.S. visa as a Third Country National, schedule an appointment with International Admissions so we can better prepare you for visa renewal.
Traveling to a Third Country
If you plan to travel to a country other than your home country, be sure to take these additional steps:
- Visa: Inquire with that country’s embassy or consulate if you need a visa to enter that country. For a list of foreign embassies/consulates in the U.S., visit the Department of State’s website.
- Timing: Visas can take several weeks or months to be issued.
- Immunizations: The country where you are traveling might require immunizations for entry. Check with the embassy or consulate of your travel destination.
Travel to Canada, Mexico or Adjacent Islands – Automatic Visa Revalidation
"Automatic revalidation" means that if you have an expired F-1 visa and are traveling to Canada, Mexico or Adjacent Islands for less than 30 days, your F-1 visa may be considered automatically extended to the date of your return to the U.S.
To be eligible, you must be in legal F-1 status and in possession of a valid passport, I-20 and I-94 (white card stapled into your passport or printout of electronic I-94). You are not eligible for automatic revalidation in any of the following situations:
- You applied for a new non-immigrant visa, which has not yet been issued.
- You applied for a new non-immigrant visa, which was denied.
- You are out of status (have a terminated SEVIS record).
- You have been outside the U.S. for more than thirty days.
Contact us if you have any questions related to travel.
Whether you are finishing your program and returning to your home country, transferring to another school in the U.S. or applying for OPT, contact International Admissions regarding your plans so we can provide you with the appropriate advice regarding your F-1 visa status.
Departing the U.S.
Grace Period: When you complete your academic program at TMCC, you have a 60-day grace period to prepare for your departure from the U.S.
The 60 days:
- count from the last day of instruction in the semester you completed your academic program;
- do not apply if you don’t complete your TMCC program as planned;
- count as calendar days, not working days.
During the 60 days you:
- can travel within the U.S. but not leave the U.S. and return;
- cannot work;
- can transfer to another F-1 accredited school or apply for change of your immigration status.
Transferring to another U.S. College or University
To have your SEVIS record transferred to an F-1 accredited U.S. school, submit to International Admissions the following:
- Acceptance letter from the new school
- Transfer verification form from the new school
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
F-1 students can apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), a 12-month work authorization, 90 days before and up to 60 days after their program completion (last day of the semester in which you complete all your program requirements at TMCC). While you pursue post-completion OPT, TMCC will maintain your SEVIS record and report the required information in the SEVIS System. For more information, refer to our International Student Employment page.