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International Students

Welcome to International Student Services (ISS). Shelton State Community College offers international students a variety of services to help with the transition to the U.S., the state of Alabama, and our campus community.  ISS provides the support and assistance necessary for international students to achieve their education goals while ensuring compliance with government immigration regulations. We look forward to helping you achieve your higher learning goals.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic, International Student Services (ISS) have temporarily suspended all in-person services until further notice. Assistance is available by email or virtual appointment. Please submit all inquiries to internationalstudents@sheltonstate.edu.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Emails and requests received after normal business hours, weekends, or College observed holidays will not be processed until the next business day.

NORMAL BUSINESS HOURS: Monday-Thursday 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Friday 8:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.

 

Shelton State Community College continues to monitor the COVID-19/Coronavirus outbreak and is following recommendations from the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For the most current College information, visit COVID-19/Coronavirus.

Will classes be in person or online for fall 2020?

Due to the continuing impact of COVID-19/Coronavirus, the College adjusted fall classes from all on-campus to either hybrid, online, or virtual options.   It is important to note that online, hybrid, and virtual formats require access to a computer with high speed internet capabilities, a webcam, and a microphone. The table below provides additional information concerning schedule types and instructional methods.

 

Schedule Type Instructional Method  

Description

Online Online Class meets entirely online. Students are not required to come to campus. Students take exams using the College’s online test proctoring service or in an approved proctored environment.
Hybrid Hybrid Class requires students to attend a designated number of classes on campus and to complete activities and coursework online. Exams may be given on campus or using the College’s online test proctoring service.
Virtual Online Class has specific days and times that students will meet virtually through a video conferencing platform. Students are not required to come to campus. Students take exams using the College’s online test proctoring service or in an approved proctored environment.
Virtual Hybrid Class has specific days and times that students will meet virtually through a video conferencing platform and specific days and times that students will meet on campus. Exams may be given on campus or using the College’s online test proctoring service.

Can I still apply to Shelton State?

Due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 emergency, SSCC is only accepting application for international transfer students and international transient students for the fall 2020 term. International first-time freshmen may apply for the spring 2021 term.

 

Transfer students must be in good standing with their current institution and submit all required documents to complete the transfer process prior to the  August 7, 2020, deadline. For more information on the admission requirements for international transfer students, visit SSCC International Students. Please note that SSCC does not accept Terminated or Completed SEVIS records for a Request of Reinstatement with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

 

Transient students must submit a transient letter listing specific approved courses for the appropriate term from their host institution along with other required admission documents. For more information on admission requirements, visit international transient students.

 

Transfer students must be in good standing with their current institution and submit all required documents to complete the transfer process prior to the May 1, 2020, deadline. For more information on the admissions requirements for international transfer students, visit SSCC International Students.

 

Transient students must submit a transient letter listing specific approved courses for the appropriate term from their host institution along with other required admissions documents. For more information, visit admissions requirements for international transient students.

 

Is SSCC issuing initial attendance I-20s to new students?

Not currently. ISS has suspended issuing initial attendance to new students seeking admission for the fall 2020 term. Some U.S. consulates remain temporarily closed. Mailing services are suspended or delayed in many countries. ISS will continue to monitor the situation and resume services when we know that the secure delivery of documents and visa services have resumed.

 

I have submitted my application and plan to start a program at SSCC in the fall 2020 term. I am currently outside of the U.S., and I do not have an active SEVIS record at another U.S. school. What information do I need to know right now?

Students who are currently outside of the United States with an initial I-20 will not be able to arrive to the U.S. to begin their program in the fall term. Students may defer their start date to the spring 2021 term. Students who are transferring to SSCC during the fall 2020 term may continue their studies.

 

I am currently inside of the U.S. I have been admitted to SSCC for fall 2020 and have received my I-20. Can I still take classes this summer even though all courses are online? 

Yes. Newly admitted F-1 students who are currently inside of the U.S. and have received an I-20 to begin classes for fall 2020 are eligible to enroll and begin study this fall under the current modified structure of instruction.

 

I am currently studying at another U.S. institution and plan to transfer my SEVIS record to SSCC. How does the transition to online instruction for the fall 2020 term impact me?

Students who remain in the United States should be able to complete their SEVIS transfer for fall 2020 and begin classes. Students who are outside the U.S. should remain in their home country and defer their attendance to the spring 2021 term.

 

You should continue to submit the necessary documents to SSCC for your SEVIS transfer. Information about the documents needed for your SEVIS transfer can be found on our website at SSCC International Students. Please note that SSCC does not accept Terminated or Completed SEVIS records for a Request of Reinstatement with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

 

Some U.S. embassies and consulates are currently closed and have long wait times due to COVID19, which means I am unable to obtain an entry visa. Can the College assist with this?

If you have a College-issued I-20, this demonstrates our wish to have you enroll. However, we cannot issue any other documents to assist with obtaining an entry visa, nor can we ask the U.S. Consulate or Embassy to prioritize your visa application.

As of July 14, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) guidance from July 6, 2020, has been rescinded and will no longer take effect. What does this mean for continuing students?

If you are a continuing student and you are currently in the United States, you will not be required to leave the country even if you are taking a fully online course of study.

 

Continuing students outside of the country may continue to take online courses without jeopardizing their active status in SEVIS.  You do not need an updated I-20.

 

Will classes be in person or online for fall 2020?

Due to the continuing impact of COVID-19/Coronavirus, the College adjusted fall classes from all on-campus to either hybrid, online, or virtual options.   It is important to note that online, hybrid, and virtual formats require access to a computer with high speed internet capabilities, a webcam, and a microphone. The table below provides additional information concerning schedule types and instructional methods.

 

Schedule Type Instructional Method  

Description

Online Online Class meets entirely online. Students are not required to come to campus. Students take exams using the College’s online test proctoring service or in an approved proctored environment.
Hybrid Hybrid Class requires students to attend a designated number of classes on campus and to complete activities and coursework online. Exams may be given on campus or using the College’s online test proctoring service.
Virtual Online Class has specific days and times that students will meet virtually through a video conferencing platform. Students are not required to come to campus. Students take exams using the College’s online test proctoring service or in an approved proctored environment.
Virtual Hybrid Class has specific days and times that students will meet virtually through a video conferencing platform and specific days and times that students will meet on campus. Exams may be given on campus or using the College’s online test proctoring service.

 

How do the modified methods of instruction impact international students with F-1 visas whose instruction must occur in person?

Currently enrolled F-1 students’ visa status will not be affected by the changes in instructional methods for fall 2020.  However, F-1 students must continue to maintain full-time enrollment for the fall 2020 term despite the changes in instruction methods. SSCC adheres to guidance from the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), which is a unit within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that oversees the F-1 international student visa program. Due to the rapidly evolving situation with COVID-19, SEVP issued guidance to institutions that allows for increased flexibility to ensure international students can continue their academic progress.

 

Remember that this change in instructional method allowance is only extended for the fall 2020 term, and the suspension of rules assumes that continuing students will resume full-time, in-person study in January for the spring 2021 term.

 

What if I am back home and am not able to return for the fall 2020 term?

Per the current guidance from SEVP, international students who are unable to be physically present for in-person classes due to various reasons (health/safety reasons, travel constraints, etc.) may participate in their fall classes 100% remotely from their home country.

 

Additionally, the guidance suspends the 5-month rule for absences.  Therefore, ISS will maintain your F-1 I-20 while you are out-of-country and your student status will not be jeopardized.

 

Remember that this change in instructional method allowance is only extended  for the fall 2020 term, and the suspension of rules assumes that continuing students will resume full-time, in-person study in January  for the spring 2021 term.

 

My F-1 visa has expired. Do I need to renew my F-1 visa?

If you have left the U.S., and your visa is currently expired, and you plan to re-enter the U.S. then you will need to renew your F-1 visa. If you have remained in the U.S. then you do not need to renew your F-1 visa.

 

Please note that many U.S. Embassies and Consulates remain closed. They will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time.

 

I have been asked to provide a letter from Shelton State verifying the operational status of the College for the fall 2020 term and confirming that I am enrolled in classes on campus in order to travel or attend my scheduled visa appointment. How can I request this letter?

ISS can provide a letter to you verifying the College’s operational status for the fall 2020 term and verifying your course of enrollment, provided that you are registered for at least one in-person or hybrid class. We will check your enrollment before we can issue the letter. If you will be enrolled in classes that are only online or virtual, we will not be able to provide this letter to you and encourage you to remain in your home country and take fully online classes.

 

You can request a letter by emailing internationalstudents@sheltonstate.edu.

 

If I left  the U.S., can you guarantee that I will be able to come back to SSCC for fall courses?

If you chose to leave the U.S., please know that International Student Services (ISS) cannot control whether you will be able to return to the U.S. on your desired return date. This is an ongoing situation, and we cannot speculate on future course terms and travel restrictions.

 

We encourage you to monitor travel conditions through your home country’s Embassy page and through resources such as the International Air Transport Association Travel Page.

Please note that if your F-1 visa has expired and you need to renew it, many U.S. consulates have temporarily suspended visa appointments.

 

ISS has no control or influence over visa requirements or travel restrictions.

 

What will happen if I cannot or choose not to return to school when the College returns to in-person instruction?

SSCC is currently offering modified instruction alternatives for the fall 2020 term due to the continuing impact of COVID-19. Once the College returns to normal operations, if a student cannot or chooses not to return to the U.S., their SEVIS record will be terminated.

 

If I am planning to leave the U.S., do I need a travel signature on my immigration document?

Yes, you need a travel signature to return to the U.S. to resume your studies in the future. Your travel signature is valid for one year and must be valid at the time of your attempt to reenter the U.S. If your I-20 program end date is less than one year, your travel signature is only valid until the program end date.

 

Note: If you are on OPT, your travel signature is valid for six months.

 

If I am planning to leave the U.S., what documents do I need to reenter the country?

If you depart the country either this semester or in summer, do not forget that you will need the following to be able to return to the U.S. on F-1 student visa status:

  1. a valid travel signature on your I-20
  2. a valid passport
  3. a valid F-1 visa stamp

 

Please note that if your F-1 visa has expired and you need to renew it, many U.S. consulates have temporarily suspended visa appointments.

 

If you need a travel signature, please send an email to internationalstudents@sheltonstate.edu and include “TRAVEL SIGNATURE REQUEST” in the subject line.

 

ISS has no control or influence over visa requirements or travel restrictions.

 

I am graduating. What are my options?

If you are graduating at the end of the term, make sure that you have applied for graduation. Click here for more information on the graduation application process.

 

During the 60-day departure period after graduation, international students are eligible to do the following:

  • Apply for OPT– you can actually do this before graduation, and we recommend applying early!
  • Transfer to another school. (you must be admitted and have your SEVIS record transferred within the 60 days; you must start classes within 5 months)
  • File an application to change your immigration status with USCIS. (Please note that some USCIS field offices are closed or have temporarily changed their hours due to the COVID-19.) emergency. Please check the USCIS Office Closings page for more information.)
  • Leave the U.S.

A decision must be made within the 60-day grace period. Your grace period starts after the program end date listed on your I-20.

 

I am currently on Optional Practical Training (OPT), and my employer told me to work from home. Am I in violation of my immigration status?

Employers may ask their Optional Practical Training (OPT) employees to work from home. This will not affect their F-1 status. Students must still report their employment information to ensure they do not accrue days of unemployment in their Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record.

 

I am graduating this semester, and I need to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Is it possible to apply while I am abroad?

Current regulations state that you must be present in the United States when submitting your Optional Practical Training (OPT). You cannot mail your application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from abroad. You must be present in the United States at the time USCIS issues a receipt number to acknowledge acceptance of your packet.

 

The application requires an I-94 number, which is only valid while you are in the United States. If you depart the United States, you will not have a valid I-94 and your application will likely be rejected.

 

If you are able to re-enter the United States before your I-20 program end date, you can apply for OPT up to 60 days after the program end date listed on your I-20. If you have already requested an OPT I-20 but will not be able to remain in the United States until USCIS receives your application, ISS can provide a new OPT I-20 when you return to the United States.

For admission to an Alabama Community College System institution, an international applicant must provide and comply with the following:

  • Submit Shelton State application online.
    • Select one of the following categories: International Freshman, International Transfer, or International Transient.
    • International students in this country with an F- 1 visa from another institution may be accepted for full-time study at Shelton State Community College. Transfer students must complete and return the Transfer Recommendation of Student’s Immigration Status prior to admission. Transient students must maintain the recommended hours required by the host institution while in transient status.
  • Submit Signature/Residency page.
  • Schedule an appointment with the Primary Designated School Official (PDSO).
  • Submit an unexpired, government-issued photo ID by mail or email.
  • Submit a valid VISA and passport to include identification page, expiration date page, and VISA page.
  • Submit an official translated and evaluated copy of the student’s high school/college transcript.
  • Submit English Language Testing Scores.
    • IELTS (International English Language Testing System) – minimum score must range from 5.5-6.0
    • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) – a total score of 61 on the Internet-based test, a total of 173 on the computer based test, or a total score of 500 on the paper-based test
    • Pearson’s Test of English – a score of 46 or above
      Note: English as a Second Language exam may be waived for students from the following countries: Australia, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada (verify from transcript), England, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, Scotland, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Belize, Dominica, Malawi, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Nigeria, Tanzania, The Gambia, Tobago and Trinidad, Zambia, and the Virgin Islands. All other waivers must be submitted to the Chancellor for approval with substantial documentation.
  • International Freshmen should complete the First Time Freshman International Student Admissions Packet.
  • International Transfer Students should complete theTransfer International Student Admissions Packet.
  • The final decision for acceptance of international students who have met the preceding conditions will be made by the Primary Designated School Official (PDSO).
  • International student tuition is two (2) times that of residents of the state of Alabama.
  • International students must provide a signed, notarized statement verifying adequate financial support and a complete financial statement documenting ability to pay cost of attendance. The official statement from the financial institution must be dated within the last three months and include the following information:
    • Minimum of $28,000 (USD)
    • If applicable, a minimum of $3,600 (USD) is required for each additional dependent in addition to the $28,000 for tuition.
    • Financial documentation must provide the specific amount of funds and the name(s) of the account holder.
    • Financial documentation must be in English; otherwise, attach a translation into English.
  • Documentation is required that demonstrates adequate health and life insurance, which must be maintained during enrollment. International student policies are required to provide up to $500,000 major medical insurance as well as medical evacuation and repatriation. Students who do not present their own health insurance must purchase a health insurance policy through Shelton State. Students who do not present their own health insurance must purchase a health insurance policy through the Students are required to pay for international insurance coverage at the time of registration. (Note: Spring and summer semesters are combined unless the summer is the student’s first semester.)
  • International students must meet all Immigration and Naturalization Service Requirements and complete forms necessary for attendance at Shelton State.
  • F-1 visa holders are required to be enrolled full-time (twelve semester hours or more) and should be progressing satisfactorily toward a degree.
  • All international student applicants must secure private housing since Shelton State provides no dormitory facilities.
  • No student will be allowed to enroll for a second semester unless all required admissions records have been received by the College prior to registration for the second semester. If all required admissions records have not been received by the College prior to issuance of first semester grades, then the grades will be reported on the transcript, but an official transcript will not be released until all required admissions records are received.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic, International Student Services (ISS) have temporarily suspended all in-person services until further notice. Assistance is available by email or virtual appointment. Please submit all inquiries to internationalstudents@sheltonstate.edu.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Emails and requests received after normal business hours, weekends, or College observed holidays will not be processed until the next business day.

NORMAL BUSINESS HOURS: Monday-Thursday 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Friday 8:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.