Maintaining F-1 Status

All Valencia College campuses will reopen this fall and will offer a substantial increase of face-to-face and mixed mode classes, while continuing to offer plenty of online learning options. We will continue to prioritize our community's safety and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines by offering smaller class sizes during the fall term.

SEVP issued official guidance for the fall term allowing F-1 international students to continue their full-time enrollment in online classes and maintain status even if they take classes from their home country.

I’m an F-1 student. What do I need to do to maintain my status in Fall 2021 semester?

Students inside the U.S. 

  • You must enroll full-time and complete a minimum of 12 credit hours. Any withdrawal from classes may impact your immigration status.
  • You may enroll in fully online courses to satisfy the full-time enrollment requirements for F-1 students.
  • You must purchase the mandatory international student health insurance plan via myISS prior to registering for classes.

Students outside the U.S.

You can continue maintaining your active F-1 status as long as you meet all the requirements listed below:

  • You must enroll full-time and complete a minimum of 12 credit hours. Any withdrawal from classes may impact your immigration status.
  • You may enroll in fully online courses to satisfy the full-time enrollment requirements for F-1 students.
  • You may submit a request via myISS to receive a waiver for purchasing the mandatory international student health insurance plan for the fall term only. You must meet eligibility criteria. Proof of departure from the U.S. is required.
  • If Fall 2021 is your final term and you plan on applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT), you must be present in the U.S. in order to do that. For more information about the OPT application process and requirements, please see the OPT section.

I’m currently in the U.S. but I want to travel back home and take all my Fall 2021 classes online from my home country. Would this affect my F-1 visa status?

The ISS team strongly advises against any international travel to and from the United States at this time. COVID-19 crisis continues to be a fluid and rapidly changing event; therefore, there are scenarios that may arise that are unpredictable and the consequences of which are unknown. Travel and returning home will carry inherent and perhaps unknown risks.

Should you decide to continue with your travel plans against our advice, please keep in mind the following:

  1. You must enrolled full-time and complete a minimum of 12 credit hours in Fall 2021 semester. Any withdrawal from classes may impact your immigration status.
  2. You must purchase the mandatory international student health insurance plan prior to registering for classes.
  3. If Fall 2021 is your final term and you plan on applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT), you must be present in the U.S. in order to do that. For more information about the OPT application process and requirements, please visit our OPT section in the FAQs.
  4. You must notify ISS that you will be out of country so we can update your SEVIS record. You can email us at iss@valenciacollege.edu.

Please review the information under the Travel section for further guidance.

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Fall 2021 Enrollment

Am I required to enroll in Fall term classes?

Yes. In order to maintain your F-1 status as an international student, you are required to enroll full-time and complete a minimum 12 credit hours during Fall 2021 semester regardless of whether you are taking your classes online in the U.S. or from abroad.

Note: If you plan on graduating in Fall 2021 semester, you may be authorized to take less than 12 credit hours. You must apply for graduation through your Atlas account and submit a request for a Reduced Course Load through myISS by Aug. 23, 2021.

Can I drop below full-time (12 credits) this fall semester because of coronavirus?

No. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security requires international students to continue maintaining full-time enrollment in order to maintain their F-1 status. Withdrawing from a class that will put you below the 12 credit hours minimum enrollment requirement may result in violation of your F-1 status.

Can I go back to my home country and take my classes from there in the fall?

All Valencia College campuses will reopen this fall and will offer a substantial increase of face-to-face and mixed mode classes, while continuing to offer plenty of online learning options. SEVP will allow current F-1 students to continue their enrollment in fully online classes and maintain their active F-1 status even if they take classes from their home country.

The ISS team strongly advises against any international travel to and from the United States at this time. COVID-19 crisis continues to be a fluid and rapidly changing event; therefore, there are scenarios that may arise that are unpredictable and the consequences of which are unknown. Travel and returning home will carry inherent and perhaps unknown risks.

Please review the information under the Travel section for further guidance.

I’m currently in my home country, but I would like to go back to the U.S. for Fall 2021. Can I do that? What should I do?

If you are an active F-1 student and you are currently outside the U.S., you may return back to the U.S. for fall 2021 semester.

The ISS team strongly advises against any international travel to and from the United States at this time. COVID-19 crisis continues to be a fluid and rapidly changing event; therefore, there are scenarios that may arise that are unpredictable and the consequences of which are unknown. Travel and returning home will carry inherent and perhaps unknown risks.

Should you decide to continue with your travel plans against our advice, please keep in mind the following:

  • Travel Signature – Do you have a valid travel signature on your I-20 (signed AFTER September 1, 2020)? If not, you may submit a request through myISS at least three weeks before your planned return date to the United States and we will issue you a digitally signed Form I-20, which you can access via Direct Document Download through myISS.
  • Visa – Do you have a valid (unexpired) F-1 visa? Be mindful that some U.S. Embassies and Consulates in some countries are currently CLOSED and that we anticipate significant delays in renewing your visa, if needed. Be prepared that more embassies/consulates could shut down during this time.
  • Passport – Do you have valid (unexpired) passport? You passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your planned return to the U.S.
  • Travel Bans – The COVID-19 crisis continues to be a fluid and rapidly changing event, which leads to frequently changing travel restrictions. We don’t know how long these travel restrictions will last and what additional countries may be impacted. Please be prepared, understand the risks, and be advised that your trip could be disrupted and you might not be able to return to the U.S. for an unknown period of time.
  • Self-Quarantine – All students who travel internationally are required to self-isolate for 10 days upon return from your trip prior to coming to a Valencia College campus. If you test negative upon your return, your quarantine period may be reduced to 7 days. Please contact the ISS office to determine eligibility.

Please review the information under the Travel section for further guidance.

Which programs and classes will be on campus?

Valencia College will offer the majority of Fall 2021 courses in an online modality, reserving face-to-face and mixed-mode sections for courses that are unable to be offered online. Most classes being held on-site fully or in a mixed-mode format are in the Accelerated Skills, Allied Health, Arts and Entertainment, Biotechnology, Culinary, Engineering, Nursing and Public Safety programs. 

View the credit class course schedule
View the Continuing Education course schedule

Will Valencia continue to offer mostly online courses this fall?

All Valencia College campuses will reopen this fall and will offer a substantial increase of face-to-face and mixed mode classes, while continuing to offer plenty of online learning options. We will continue to prioritize our community's safety and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines by offering smaller class sizes during the fall term.

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 Books and Course Materials
How can I purchase my books for Fall 2021 semester?

The Valencia College campus store is available online. You can access it at https://www.valenciabookstores.com/.

Downtown Campus students can order their materials at ucf-vc.bncollege.com/shop/ucf-valencia/.

If you are currently outside the U.S. and you plan on purchasing your books and course materials through the online campus store and having them shipped to your home country, please consider the following:

  • Cost – Shipping oversees can be expensive. The estimated cost of books weighing 20lbs is about $250.
  • Time – It may take a few weeks to receive your books and course materials due to delays in customs both in the U.S. and your home country.
  • Restrictions – There is a long list of countries who do not accept shipments from the U.S. at this time due to COVID-19 and we don't know when that will change.

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 Tuition Installment Plan (TIP)

Will TIP be available this Fall 2021 semester?

TIP became temporarily unavailable due to a change made by the TIP provider, called Nelnet. However, Nelnet has recently made a change to Valencia College's contract, which will allow us to offer you the TIP program again this fall. You may enroll in TIP to break down your tuition and fees into more affordable payments.

It's important to note that some of the terms of the TIP program have changed:

  • The maximum amount of the TIP agreement, established at the sole discretion of Nelnet, is only $4,500 for all students. If your outstanding balance for Fall 2021 is more than $4,500, you must pay the difference through your Atlas account first before you can sign up for TIP.
    • For example, if you owe $5,000 tuition and fees for Fall 2021, you must pay $500 to lower you balance to $4,500 ($5,000 - $500 = $4,500) before you can sign up for TIP.
  • 25% immediate down payment is required at the timed of enrollment into the program until TBD
  • 50% immediate down payment is required at the timed of enrollment into the program between TBD
  • $35 non-refundable enrollment fee if you sign up on or before TBD
  • $40 non-refundable enrollment fee if you sign up between TBD

Please review carefully all terms and conditions of the TIP program before signing up for it. For more information please click here.

Please note: Although TIP has become available again, contract changes could lead to another disruption in TIP availability except for a student with an active contract that is not in default. While we do not expect Nelnet to make additional changes in the near future, available TIP options are based on the point in time that the student enrolls in TIP. The availability or any other component of the plan may change based on Nelnet's sole and absolute discretion.

If you have questions about TIP, please email accountsreceivable@valenciacollege.edu or call 407-582-1365.

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Health Insurance and Self-Care
Is it true that my health insurance plan has changed this 2021 - 2022 academic year?

Yes, it’s true. After conducting a thorough research on all available options, including the renewal rate of our current plan, Aetna Health provided the best plan with the most comprehensive coverage at the most affordable price. The new plan for 2021-2022 academic year is effective from August 15, 2021. The plan offers:

  • Unlimited maximum benefit per covered injury/sickness
  • $100 deductible per policy year
  • 100% coverage for preferred providers, 60% coverage for out-of-network
  • $30 copay for doctor’s visits, $300 copay for emergency room
  • Coverage for preventative care services
  • Aetna Open Choice PPO Network
  • Unlimited evacuation & repatriation
  • Dependent coverage available

For a comprehensive list of coverage and benefits, please review the full  Aetna Insurance Plan Brochure.

For additional information about the new plan and rates, please visit the ISS Mandatory Insurance page.

Does my health insurance cover COVID-19 testing and treatment?

Yes. Aetna Health is committed to ensure that you continue to receive high quality health care to help you stay mentally and physically healthy.

I plan on returning to my home country for Fall 2021 and continue taking my classes online from abroad. Am I required to purchase health insurance since I will not be in the U.S.?

Although we strongly recommend that you maintain your health insurance coverage through the College plan, you do have the option to request a waiver of your health insurance payment requirement for the Fall 2021 term if you will be taking your classes online from your home country due to COVID-19.

You may submit your request through myISS to receive a waiver for purchasing the mandatory international student health insurance plan for the Fall 2021 term only if you meet the criteria listed below.

Students Outside the U.S.

  1. You are currently outside of the U.S.
  2. You do not plan to re-renter the U.S. before the end of Fall 2021 term (December 12, 2021).
  3. You plan to maintain active F-1 status and enroll full-time in Fall 2021.

Students Inside the U.S.

  1. You are currently inside the U.S. and plan to depart by August 23, 2021 (Must provide a copy of departure flight ticket).
  2. You do not plan to re-renter the U.S. before the end of Fall 2021 term (December 12, 2021).
  3. You plan to maintain active F-1 status and enroll full-time in Fall 2021.

Allow 48 hours after submitting your request in order to receive an email response from an ISS Advisor (Note: If you submit your request during the weekend, you will receive a response on Monday).

Is my health insurance valid in my home country?

Yes. Aetna Health is aware that many students will be attending classes remotely, which could place them outside of the United States. You will be able to use the new plan outside the U.S. and in your home country as long as your home country does not provide socialized medicine.

I paid for my health insurance but I still have a hold and can’t register for classes. Why?

Please remember that your registration hold will be removed on the next business day after payment is received. If you make a payment during the weekend, your hold will be removed on Monday.

I will no longer be enrolled in classes, how can I cancel my mandatory health insurance coverage and receive a refund?

If eligible, you must contact iss@valenciacollege.edu to request cancellation and refund of your mandatory health insurance coverage. ISS will submit a request to Insurance For Students on your behalf to cancel your mandatory health insurance coverage and issue a refund. DO NOT contact Insurance For Students (IFS) directly to request cancellation and refund. All requests must be made through the ISS Office. Refund requests may take up to 30 days for processing.

Eligibility for cancellation and refund:

  • You are withdrawing from the College.
  • You are relinquishing your F-1 status.
  • You are taking a leave of absence.

Note: students terminated for a status violation are not eligible for a refund of their health insurance coverage.

I feel stressed out, anxious, and lonely due to COVID-19. What should I do?

Valencia has contracted with a private counseling service to provide short-term assistance to credit-seeking students who need to resolve challenges that are negatively impacting their academic performance and/or emotional wellbeing. BayCare provides a toll-free confidential helpline 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year. There are three ways to connect with BayCare:

Website: valenciacollege.edu/baycare
Phone number: 1-800-878-5470
Email: baycaresap@baycare.org
You can also get connected with a Valencia counselor for emotional support and resources. Please click here and complete the counseling support form. After you complete the form, a counselor will reach out to you based on the contact preferences you note in the form.

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PERT Virtual Testing
I need to take the PERT Placement Test. How can I do that since the campuses are closed?

The Assessment Center now offers PERT Honorlock virtual testing. You must have stable internet connection, computer/laptop with audio capabilities, and webcam. Please visit the Assessment Center Virtual Testing page for more information how to register and how to prepare for the PERT Honorlock Exam.

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Tax Information

For a recording of our most recent Live International Student Tax Workshop click here.

What is 1098-T Tuition Statement Form?

Form 1098-T is a statement from a college or university that indicates how much you have paid in tuition in the previous year. U.S. citizens and permanent residents can use this to receive a tax credit or reimbursement. Non-resident aliens are not eligible to receive this tax credit.

For more information about 1098-T Tuition Statement Form, click here.

I am an international student and did not receive Form 1098-T. What should I do?

If you are a non-resident alien student and do not have U.S. source income (U.S. scholarships, awards, waivers, etc.) that is subject to tax, Valencia College is exempt from issuing a Form 1098-T to you, unless requested. Requests can be made by sending an email to BusinessOffice@Valenciacollege.edu.

For more information about 1098-T Tuition Statement Form, click here.

I received an email from Valencia College requiring me to provide a valid social security number or Tax ID number. What should I do?

By law, Valencia College must ask you at least once a year for your taxpayer identification number in order to meet its obligation to file Form 1098-T.

If you have a Social Security Number or Tax ID, you must complete Parts I and II of the  Request for Student's Taxpayer Identification Number form. If you do not have at Social Security Number/Tax ID or are unwilling or unable to provide a Tax ID, complete Part III, selecting the corresponding box. Mail the completed form to the address provided on the form or email it to enrollment@valenciacollege.edu. DO NOT submit this form to the IRS.

I do not have a Social Security Number or Tax ID, but I received an email from Valencia College asking for it. What should I do?

By law, Valencia College must ask you at least once a year for your taxpayer identification number in order to meet its obligation to file Form 1098-T.

If you do not have at Social Security Number or Tax ID, you must complete the  Request for Student's Taxpayer Identification Number form. Complete Part III, selecting the corresponding box. Mail the completed form to the address provided on the form or email it to enrollment@valenciacollege.edu. DO NOT submit this form to the IRS.

Am I required to file a tax return with the Internal Revenue Service?

If you were employed and earned income during the 2020 calendar year (January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020), you are required to file a tax return  form 1040NR AND  form 8843 with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) before May 17, 2021. 

If you were employed and earned income during the 2020 calendar year, you should have received a W-2 or 1042-S forms (tax statements) from your employer. If you had multiple employers during the calendar year, you should receive a W-2 form from each employer. You will use the information on this form to file  1040NR.

I was not employed and I did not receive income during the 2020 calendar year. Am I still required to file a tax return with the Internal Revenue Service?

Yes. All nonresident aliens present in the U.S. under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 non-immigrant status must file  form 8843 with the Internal Revenue Service even if they were not employed and did not earn any income in 2020.

Can I get help filing my tax returns?

We recommend that you use a program specifically designed for international students to assist you in completing your tax forms. One example is Sprintax,* an online self-preparation software for federal and state tax returns. A Federal tax return with Sprintax costs $37.95.

*Students are responsible for selecting their own tax software. Valencia College acts only as an agent providing information about Sprintax. It is understood and agreed that Valencia College assumes no responsibility for, nor guarantees performance of, and in no event shall be liable for, any loss, damage or claims associated with your use of Sprintax.

Will I get money back?

It depends on your individual circumstances. If you did not earn income and are only filing  form 8843, you will not receive a refund. If you earned income, whether you receive a tax return refund or you owe taxes will depend on the way you completed your W-4 Employee’s Withholding Certificate Form. Based on the information provided by you on the W-4 form, your employer has determined what is the correct federal income tax that was withheld from your pay. Once you complete your tax return forms, you will see if you owe taxes or if you will receive a refund and the exact amount.

My friends say I could get a refund back from a tax service with the 1098-T. Is this right?

No! Nonresident students are not eligible for the education tax credit associated with the 1098-T. Some tax preparation offices may offer international students the refund without understanding the differences between resident and nonresident aliens.

As an international student am I allowed to receive a stimulus check due to COVID-19?

Most international students are considered non-resident aliens for tax purposes, therefore the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) states that you do not qualify for a stimulus check. Visit the Economic Impact Payment Information Center for more information and eligibility criteria.

To determine if you are considered a non-resident for tax purposes, please visit Determining Alien Tax Status.

I received a stimulus check/direct deposit in error. What should I do?

If you received a stimulus check in error, you should return the payment as described below.

If the payment was a paper check:

  1. Write “Void” in the endorsement section on the back of the check.
  2. Mail the voided Treasury check immediately to the address listed below:
        Austin Refund Inquiry Unit
        3651 S Interregional Hwy 35
        Mail Stop 6542
        Austin, TX 78741
  3. Don’t staple, bend, or paper clip the check.
  4. Include a note stating the reason for returning the check. 

If the payment was a paper check and you have cashed it, or if the payment was a direct deposit:

  1. Submit a personal check, money order, etc., immediately to the address listed below:
        Austin Refund Inquiry Unit
        3651 S Interregional Hwy 35
        Mail Stop 6542
        Austin, TX 78741
  2. Write on the check/money order made payable to “U.S. Treasury” and write 2020EIP, and your individual taxpayer identification number or social security number.
  3. Include a brief explanation of the reason for returning the Economic Impact Payment (EIP).

For more information visit Returning an Erroneous Refund – Paper Check or Direct Deposit.

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Travel

The U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated their Travel Advisories and recommendations elevating most countries around the world to the highest Level 4: Do Not Travel due to COVID-19. The ISS Office continues to advise against any international travel to and from the United States at this time as travel increases your chance of being exposed to and spreading the virus. If you must travel, CDC has issued the following new travel requirements.

  • All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board a flight to the United States.
  • Masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • Quarantine for 10 days upon return from your trip prior to coming to a Valencia College campus. If you test negative upon your return, your quarantine period may be reduced to 7 days. Please contact the ISS office to determine eligibility.
  • Make sure you understand and follow all airline and destination requirements related to travel, testing, or quarantine, which may differ from U.S. requirements.

Is it true that I can now enter the U.S. as a National Interest Exception student if traveling from Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland, the United Kingdom (excluding overseas territories outside of Europe), the Schengen Area, and South Africa?

  • The U.S. has currently suspended entry for people who were physically present within Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland, the United Kingdom (excluding overseas territories outside of Europe), the Schengen Area, and South Africa during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the U.S.
  • Students with valid F-1 visas traveling from Brazil, China, India, Iran, and South Africa who will begin or continue an academic program starting on August 1, 2021 or later may enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before the start of the academic program. Students qualify for the National Interest Exception automatically and do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek approval.
    • Keep in mind that Fall 2021 semester starts on Aug. 23, 2021. That means that you may not be able to re-enter the U.S. before July 24, 2021).
  • The current statement from the Department of State refers only to F-1 students and does not provide guidance regarding F-2 dependents. In order to avoid any complications, the ISS Office advises against the travel of F-2 dependents until further clarification becomes available.
  • Students with valid F-1 visas traveling from Ireland, the United Kingdom (excluding overseas territories outside of Europe), and the Schengen Area automatically qualify for the National Interest Exception and do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek approval. They may enter the U.S. at any time throughout the summer as long as there are no changes to the current guidance.

How can I get a travel signature?

  • If you have a travel signature on your I-20, signed AFTER September 1, 2020, you do not need a new travel signature.
  • If you do not have a valid travel signature, you may submit a request through myISS at least three weeks before your planned return date to the United States and we will issue you a digitally signed Form I-20, which you can access via Direct Document Download through myISS.
  • If you have renewed any of your immigration documents (passport or visa) and have not provided a copy to the ISS office, please do so using the Document Update form through myISS. Your Travel signature request may be delayed if we do not have your updated information.
  • If you are currently on OPT, your travel signature is valid only for six months. If you need a new signature, please submit a request through myISS. We strongly recommend that you do not travel outside the U.S. without your EAD Card and without an employment offer letter.

I’m currently in the U.S. but I want to travel back home and take all my Fall 2021 classes online from my home country. What should I do?

The ISS team strongly advises against any international travel to and from the United States at this time. COVID-19 crisis continues to be a fluid and rapidly changing event; therefore, there are scenarios that may arise that are unpredictable and the consequences of which are unknown. Travel and returning home will carry inherent and perhaps unknown risks.

Should you decide to continue with your travel plans against our advice, please keep in mind the following:

  1. You must enrolled full-time and complete a minimum of 12 credit hours in Fall 2021 semester. Any withdrawal from classes may impact your immigration status.
  2. You must purchase the mandatory international student health insurance plan prior to registering for classes.
  3. If Fall 2021 is your final term and you plan on applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT), you must be present in the U.S. in order to do that. For more information about the OPT application process and requirements, please visit our OPT section in the FAQs.
  4. You must notify ISS that you will be out of country so we can update your SEVIS record. You can email us at iss@valenciacollege.edu.

Other things to consider:

  • Travel Signature – Do you have a valid travel signature on your I-20 (signed AFTER September 1, 2020)? If not, you may submit a request through myISS and we will issue you a digitally signed Form I-20, which you can access via Direct Document Download. Instructions will be provided to your Atlas email address.

    If you are currently on OPT, your travel signature is valid only for 6 months. If you need a new signature, please submit a request for travel signature through myISS.

  • Visa – Do you have a valid (unexpired) F-1 visa? Be mindful that some U.S. Embassies and Consulates in some countries are currently CLOSED and that we anticipate significant delays in renewing your visa, if needed. Be prepared that more embassies/consulates could shut down during this time.

  • Passport – Do you have valid (unexpired) passport? You passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your planned return to the U.S.

  • Travel Bans – The COVID-19 crisis continues to be a fluid and rapidly changing event, which leads to frequently changing travel restrictions. We don’t know how long these travel restrictions will last and what additional countries may be impacted. Please be prepared, understand the risks, and be advised that your trip could be disrupted and you might not be able to return to the U.S. for an unknown period of time.

  • Time Zone – Consider differences in time zones between Orlando and your home country in case your professors schedule Skype, Zoom, Canvas, or other virtual meetings.

  • Books & Course Materials – If you plan on purchasing your books and course materials through the online campus store and having them shipped to your home country, please consider the additional shipping cost, the time it will take to receive them, and other shipping restrictions. Please review our Books and Course Materials section for more information.

  • Self-Quarantine – All students who travel internationally are required to self-isolate for 10 days upon return from your trip prior to coming to a Valencia College campus. If you test negative upon your return, your quarantine period may be reduced to 7 days. Please contact the ISS office to determine eligibility.

  • Masks Requirement – Masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.

  • Coronavirus Testing Requirement –  On January 26, 2021 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines will require all air travelers (2 years and older) entering the U.S. present at the ticket counter the following:

    1. Proof of recovery from coronavirus or a negative PCR or antigen viral test taken no more than 3 calendar days before departure.

    2. A completed entry disclosure form confirming the information presented is true.

Failure to provide both will result in denied boarding. Laboratory results can be in printed or in electronic form. Receipt of the vaccine does not currently provide an exemption.

If you choose to travel, please make sure to check the following sites for up-to-date information, resources, and the latest travel advisories:

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Road to Re-Opening

When is Valencia College reopening?

All Valencia College campuses will reopen this fall and we’ll offer a substantial increase of face-to-face and mixed mode classes, while continuing to offer plenty of online learning options. We will continue to prioritize our community's safety and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines by offering smaller class sizes during the fall term.

International Student Services (ISS) is committed to providing high quality support and advising services remotely as our physical office locations remain closed.

For detailed information about Valencia College’s plans to reopen, visit the Roadmap for Reopening.

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Optional Practical Training (OPT)
I’m graduating in Fall 2021. How can I apply for OPT since the college is closed?

In order to apply for OPT, you need to be present in the United States. You must submit the following documents to the International Student Services office via myISS.

  • Completed Form I-765. You MUST use the electronic version, a fillable .pdf form and type in your responses. Do not handwrite the form. Part 2, item #27 should be completed as (c)(3)(B).
    www.uscis.gov/i-765
  • Copies of current Form I-20 and any previously issued Form I-20(s).
  • Copies of passport biographical page with photo, expiration date page, visa page, copy of most current I-94 record. Find your most recent I-94 record here.
  • Two new 2x2 full frontal color passport photos with your name and I-94 number written in pencil on the back.
  • The filing fee is $410. You may pay by Check/Money Order/Bank Check, made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security and indicate I-94 number on check for identification reasons. Please note that USCIS fees are subject to change. To verify, please visit www.uscis.gov.
  • If you want to receive an e-mail and/or a text message that your Form I-765 has been accepted at a USCIS Lockbox facility, complete Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance and clip it to the first page of your application. www.uscis.gov/g-1145.
  • Previous Employment Authorization Document (EAD Cards), if applicable.
  • Additional documentation from USCIS pertaining to a Change of Status and/or Reinstatement applications, if applicable.

Apply early! USCIS allows you to apply up to 90 days prior to your graduation date and up to 60 days after your graduation date. Your application will not be considered by USCIS if received after 60 days from your graduation date.

Fall 2021 is my graduating semester. If I finish my classes online while outside the U.S., am I eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training from abroad?

No. Form I-765 is the application you file with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to request Optional Practical Training. On page 4, Part 3 of Form I-765, USCIS states that you must file the application while in the United States. No special provisions to allow F-1 student visa holders to apply from outside the U.S. during COVID-19 have been communicated by USCIS.

I’m currently on OPT and I’m reaching my 90 days of unemployment, but I can’t find a job. What should I do?

Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has not issued any temporary provisions to allow F-1 student visa holders to exceed the current unemployment limits of 90 days for 12 month post-completion OPT. Students should continue to report employment changes via the SEVP Student Portal.

Students are strongly encouraged to try to maintain their OPT status by finding a volunteer position in their field of study for up to 20 hours per week. You may need to consider alternative options:

  • Transfer to another U.S. college or university to continue your studies
  • Pursue another degree at Valencia College
  • Return to your home country

Please contact an ISS advisor at iss@valenciacollege.edu if you would like to discuss any of these options.

Will my OPT be extended since most businesses are closed?

No. Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has not issued any temporary provisions to allow F-1 student visa holders to extend their 12 month post-completion OPT period due to business closures caused by COVID-19.

I’m currently on OPT and I was furloughed from my job. Does this count as unemployment against my OPT?

It’s important to determine if you were laid off or placed on a temporary leave (paid or unpaid) consistent with the company’s leaver policy. We strongly recommend that you obtain a written statement from your employer or their Human Resources department to confirm your status with the company as this is an important distinction. Students should continue to report employment changes via the SEVP Student Portal.

Students are strongly encouraged to try to maintain their OPT status by finding a volunteer position in their field of study for up to 20 hours per week.

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Economic Hardship

We understand that COVID-19 is already making a huge economic impact on every country around the world. As the situation is evolving rapidly and we are all adjusting to our current reality, please allow us more time to explore what support, if any, might be available to international students.

I heard that international students can apply for an off-campus work permit due to coronavirus? How can I apply?

One condition of approval for F-1 nonimmigrant status is that a student shows the ability to pay for his/her education and support while in the United States. Students who experience severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond their control may request employment authorization to work off-campus from United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), if they meet certain requirements. Students facing financial difficulties related to COVID-19 may be eligible to apply for Economic Hardship.

Eligibility Requirements

  • You must have been in F-1 status for one full academic year at Valencia College.
  • You must be in good academic standing with cumulative GPA at least 2.0. Students on Academic Warning or Probation are not eligible.
  • You must be a current F-1 student carrying a full course load of study.
  • You must demonstrate severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond your control.
    • Loss of on-campus employment without fault on your part
    • On-campus employment opportunities are not available or insufficient
    • Substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate
    • Unexpected changes in the financial condition of their sponsor
    • Medical bills
    • Other substantial and unexpected expenses
  • You must demonstrate that acceptance of employment will not interfere with your ability to maintain a full course of study.

Things to Consider

  • Processing times vary greatly and could take months to receive a decision due to USCIS office closures that create backlogs of applications. https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/
  • Approval is not guaranteed.
  • Application fee is expensive and non-refundable.
  • Employment opportunities will be very limited due to business closures and millions of people being laid off.
  • If approved, part-time employment is limited to no more than 20 hours per week when school is in session. Full-time employment is permissible only during holidays or school vacation.
  • Employment authorization may be granted one year at a time. It can be renewed following the same application process.
  • If you are graduating and/or transferring to another school, your EAD will be cancelled.
  • If you are eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT)/Internship, that might be a better option for you. www.valenciacollege.edu/internship
  • If approved, you cannot engage in off-campus employment until you receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS with start and end date of employment.
  • If approved, employment does not need to be related to your field of study.
  • If approve, you must continue to maintain full-time enrollment of 12 credit hours during fall and spring semesters.
  • You must maintain good academic standing and continue to make satisfactory academic progress towards your degree.

How to Apply

Students must submit the following documents to the International Student Services office via myISS:

  • Letter of explanation describing in details your personal financial needs, the unforeseen circumstances that require you to seek employment authorization, and the unavailability or insufficiency of on-campus employment to meet your needs.
  • Supporting materials documenting the unforeseen nature of the economic hardship including a list of assets, income, and expenses.
  • Official academic transcript & current enrollment/class schedule.
  • Completed Form I-765. You MUST use the electronic version, a fillable .pdf form and type in your responses. Do not handwrite the form. Part 2, Item #27 should be completed as (c)(3)(iii). www.uscis.gov/i-765.
  • Copies of current Form I-20 and any previously issued Form I-20(s).
  • Photocopy of passport biographical page with picture, expiration date page, visa page, copy of I-94 arrival & departure record.
  • Two new 2x2 full frontal color passport photos with your name and I-94 number written in pencil on the back.
  • Check/Money Order/Bank Check for $410 made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Indicate I-94 number on check for identification purposes. Please note that USCIS fees are non-refundable and subject to change. To verify, please visit www.uscis.gov.

I’m falling behind on my rent and my landlord told me I will be evicted? What can I do?

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspended all evictions due to people’s inability to pay rent for at least 45 days starting April 2nd.

Valencia College has also created a Community Resource page where you can find a list of local resources that may be helpful to you during this time.

Is there any financial assistance for international students because of coronavirus?

Here are some resources currently available for international students.

Valencia College Foundation Scholarships

The Valencia College Foundation offers a number of privately funded scholarships to support current students. I highly encourage you to submit an application through the Valencia College Foundation’s Scholarship Application Portal to be considered.

Out-of-State Tuition Waiver Scholarship Programs through International Linkage Institutes

International students from certain countries or regions are also eligible for out-of-state tuition waivers through Florida Linkage Institutes administered by other institutions.

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Assistance and Public Charge Implications

Am I eligible for health care, housing, food, unemployment, and other assistance programs? How would that impact my immigration status?

Broadly speaking, any federal, state, local or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance, food assistance, and government housing assistance would make a nonimmigrant a Public Charge. International students should review the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Rule. prior to accepting or seeking any federal, state, local or tribal financial support.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) made an exception that COVID-19 testing, treatment, and preventive care will not be considered a violation of the Public Charge Rules.

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Scams

International students have frequently been targets of a variety of scams using phone, email, social media, and other means. The scammer will identify themselves as a police officer, IRS, government official, or college official and threaten dismissal from the college, deportation from the U.S., arrest, or dropped classes unless you immediately pay money to the government or college. Payment demanded by the scammer is usually made via money order, wire transfer, gift cards, or other difficult to track payment methods. The college, a police department, or the U.S. government will never call you directly and demand immediate payment over the phone.

I received a phone call, text message, and/or an email in regards to COVID-19 that is asking for my personal information and/or bank account details. Is this a scam?

Please be aware of scam texts, calls, and/or emails in relation to COVID-19. Valencia College, government agencies, CDC, and local health departments will NOT ask you to confirm your bank account or detailed immigration information. Do not give out this information!

What should I do if I receive a call demanding payment and threatening my immigration or academic status?

  • Hang up immediately! The scammers are extremely aggressive and will try to keep you on the phone. Do not listen to their threats.
  • If you are unsure about whether or not the call was a scam, please contact the ISS Office via phone at 407-582-5830 or via email at iss@valenciacollege.edu.
  • Do not perform a wire transfer or purchase moneygrams, green dot cards, or any other cash payments to provide to the caller.
  • Refer to the  ICE Public Safety Alert for more information on imposters awareness.

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Getting Ready for Hurricane Season

What should I do in the event of a hurricane?

June 1, 2021 marked the start of the hurricane season. Due to the potential impact hurricanes may have on Central Florida, we would like to caution you and provide you with information and resources to prepare you and ensure your safety. There is much you can do now to prepare, know your risk and stay informed as well as avoid a last-minute rush to grocery stores.

  • Although the majority of Fall 2021 courses will remain in an online modality, should there be a potential for an impacted by a hurricane in the Orlando area, a decision could be made to close campuses. That decision will be communicated via Valencia Alerts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Atlas email and the Valencia College website.
    • CHECK YOUR ATLAS E-MAIL AT LEAST ONCE A DAY for official notifications from the College.
    • Watch your local news channels for updates.
  • Prepare and do not panic. Take precautions and build a hurricane safety kit, which should allow you to survive on your own for 72 hours without electricity and water. A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:
    • Documents – put all of your important documents (e.g. passport, I-20, etc.) in a Ziploc bag to prevent from getting wet
    • Water - one gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days, for drinking and sanitation
    • Food - at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food that does not require cooking or heating
    • Medication – make sure you have a 3-day supply of any prescription medication as well as over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol, Aleve, Advil, etc.
    • First aid kit
    • Flashlight
    • Extra batteries
    • Gas - fill up your car with gas in case of gas shortage in the days during and after the storm
    • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
    • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
    • Manual can opener for food
    • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
    • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert

To learn hurricane terms and more ways to prepare, visit the Hurricane Ready Website.

  • Expect places like Walmart, Publix, etc. to be very crowded and supplies to run low; everyone is preparing for the storm. So you should make this a priority and prepare your emergency kit as soon as possible.
  • Please be safe during the storm. You should remain indoors at all times. Remember that if a hurricane cancels classes, it is not a vacation. It means the threat to our safety is so great, it is safer for everyone to stay at home and prepare for the storm. Do not ride your bikes anywhere. Do not Uber anywhere. People have been seriously injured and lost their lives during these storms. It is possible that the City of Orlando issues a mandatory curfew. This means that you must remain indoors and you may get arrested if driving or walking outside.
  • Finally, we encourage you to reach out to your families and keep them updated of the weather conditions as well as your well-being. Please remember that there is a good chance for many of us to lose electricity and internet connection during and after the storm so your family and friends might not be able to get in touch with you. Please ensure your loved ones that you are making plans and preparing for the storm and you will communicate with them as soon as you are able.

How do I sign up for Valencia Alerts?

In case of an emergency, all students will be notified via Valencia Alerts to their cell phone, home phone, email or via the Valencia Security Safety App. It’s extremely important that you make sure your Valencia Alert contact information is correct.

  • To confirm or update your contact information login into Atlas under My Atlas tab – Atlas Tools - Update my Personal Information - Update Address(es) and Phone(s).
  • To sign up for Valencia Alerts, login into Atlas under My Atlas tab, click on Valencia Alerts channel in the lower corner of your screen.
  • Download the Valencia Security Safety App now.

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