International Services

Resources for F-1 International Students

The International Programs and Services office is committed to supporting the academic and personal growth of our F-1 international students. Whether you need assistance with immigration related issues, resources at the college, or want to learn more about the Charlotte community, we are here to help.

Academics

  • Registering for Classes

    All F-1 students who are taking college level classes are encouraged to visit Academic Advising before registration begins to choose classes for the next term. You are encouraged to register early for the best class selection. It is your responsibility to register for a full-time course load.

    You must be registered full-time no later than 10 days after the start of the semester. You are not permitted to take classes in a short session only. You must be in class during the full semester. For students transferring to another institution, you must provide a transfer form and acceptance letter from the institution you are transferring to no later than the first day of the term.

  • Paying for Classes

    Be sure to pay for classes by the due date. If you do not pay on time, the college may drop your courses.

    Sponsored Students

    If you are a sponsored student, you must submit an updated sponsorship letter or financial guarantee before the start date of each term. If your classes are dropped because a new sponsor letter was not provided or because you do not pay your bill on time, it is your responsibility to register for classes again. You may not be able to register for the class if all seats have been taken.

  • Completion of Study

    Grace Period Post Graduation

    Upon completion of your degree program or authorized practical training, you are allowed a 60-day grace period to decide if you will continue to study, apply for OPT, or prepare for departure from the U.S. Our office is available to assist you during this time with any of these options.

    During this time, you may leave the U.S., but you will not be able to re-enter the country in F-1 status. If you notify the international programs and services office that you intend to withdraw from classes before you have completed your program, you will only have 15 days to depart the U.S.

    Continue in Another Degree Program at Central Piedmont

    If you elect to stay at Central Piedmont and pursue a different degree program, you must provide updated financials so that we can update your I-20 with the new degree program. You must do so within the 60-day grace period after your I-20 ends. 

    Transfer to a University

    If you would like to transfer to a university to continue your studies, you must provide international programs and services with your acceptance letter from the school you will attend within the 60-day grace period. The 60 days will be included in the time you are required to be in class at the transfer in school.

    Return Home

    If you have completed your studies and plan to return to your home country, you are able to use the 60-day grace period to prepare for your departure. If you are changing your status or applying for OPT, you must have an application pending with USCIS prior to the end of the 60-day grace period.

Your Visa and I-20

  • Maintaining Your F-1 Status

    As an F-1 student, there are several regulations that you must follow to maintain your student status. Most students on an F-1 visa were admitted for D/S, which is stamped or written on your I-20 or I-94. This means you are allowed to remain in the U.S. for the Duration of Status until the program end date your I-20. It is your responsibility to maintain this status and to understand the regulations set forth by the United States Customs and Immigration Services.

    Even if your visa is valid, you can lose your legal F-1 status (your F-1 visa could be terminated) if you do not comply with the following F-1 student regulations:

    • Do not let your I-20 expire (program end date on I-20). If you need additional time to complete your program, please contact Central Piedmont's international program and services.
    • Do not work in the U.S. without authorization.
    • Maintain a full-time class schedule of at least 12 credit hours (nine credit hours if your first term is in the summer). You must be registered full-time within 10 days of the semester start date.
      • You are not permitted to take classes only in a short session and must have classes throughout the entire semester.
      • If you receive a W or AU grade, your full time status may be jeopardized.
      • To see if you qualify for a reduced course load under the DHS guidelines, contact Central Piedmont's international programs and services.
      • Take no more than three credit hours of online course work per term toward your full-time requirement. You are not permitted to take online courses in a required summer term.
    • Notify our office within 10 days if your contact information changes.
    • Make academic progress toward your degree program (review the Academic Standards of Progress).
      • You must obtain a new I-20 whenever you make changes in your program of study or in degree levels. This includes changing from language studies to an associate degree, changing optional training program to a new degree, changing from one level of degree to one of the same level (associate to a second associate degree), etc.
    • If you plan to transfer to another institution, you must provide a transfer form and acceptance letter no later than the first day of the Central Piedmont term.

    If you fail to maintain your legal status, reinstatement may be an option. Contact Central Piedmont's international programs and services office for assistance.

  • Requesting an I-20 Extension

    Pay close attention to the dates on your I-20. If you need additional time to complete your program of study, you may request an extension. You must be making academic progress in your degree program to be eligible to request an extension. You should request an extension at least 30 days prior to the end date on your I-20. If you let your I-20 expire, you will be out of F-1 status and will be required to apply for reinstatement. To request an extension:

    • Complete the I-20 extension form (PDF). The form must be signed by an academic advisor.
    • Provide proof of financial support (bank statement, bank letter, or sponsorship letter) showing the estimated expenses of at least $16,850. Financial proof must be dated within the last two months.

    This procedure will extend your I-20, but it will not extend your visa. If your visa expires, it is ok to remain in the U.S. as long as your F-1 status is valid. The next time you travel outside of the U.S., you will need to renew your visa before re-entering.

  • Reinstatement

    If you lose your F-1 status, you may be eligible for one of the following options:

    • apply for reinstatement through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
    • obtain a new I-20 to depart and re-enter the U.S.

    Under the USCIS code of federal regulations 8 CFR 214.2(f)(16), you are only eligible for reinstatement if you meet all of the following conditions. Central Piedmont's international programs and services office will only be able to provide the necessary reinstatement documents if you meet all of these conditions:

    • have not been out of status for more than five months, or demonstrate that the failure to file within the 5-month period was the result of exceptional circumstances
    • have not engaged in unauthorized employment
    • are not deportable on any grounds
    • are currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, a full course of study in the immediate future at the school which issued your Form I-20
    • do not have a record of repeated or willful violations of USCIS regulations
    • establish, in detail and to the satisfaction of USCIS, that the violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond your control.
      • circumstances beyond your control might include:

        • serious injury or illness
        • closure of the institution
        • a natural disaster
        • inadvertence, oversight, or neglect on the part of the DSO
      • circumstances beyond your control do not include:
        • instances where a pattern of violations or willful failure on your part resulted in the need for reinstatement
        • the violation relates to a reduction in your course load that would have been within the DSO's power to authorize
        • the fact that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to you

    The sole decision to reinstate an individual to F-1 status is at the discretion of USCIS. If you have been out of status for five months or more, you are advised to consult with an attorney to assist with reinstatement.

    Procedure to Apply for Reinstatement

    1. Meet with Central Piedmont's international programs and services office to assess your eligibility for reinstatement and discuss options. If reinstatement is an option, the international programs and services office will provide an updated I-20 that you will need to include with your reinstatement application.
    2. Complete the paper I-539 form found on the USCIS website. You must pay the applicable fees to USCIS. When using the paper I-539 application, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and mail to the correct address.

    While a reinstatement is pending, you are required to be continually enrolled as a full-time student.

  • Travel

    We hope that you will be able to return home for visits from time to time. Before leaving the United States, be sure to have one of our staff sign page two of your I-20 for re-entry. We suggest you bring important documents with you when you travel, such as:

    • proof of registration
    • financial support documents

    To re-enter the U.S. after travelling abroad, you must present the following documents at the Port of Entry:

    1. valid passport (for at least six months into the future)
    2. valid F-1 student visa
    3. valid SEVIS I-20 endorsed for travel by the Central Piedmont international programs and services office

    If you are engaging in post-completion OPT, you also need to carry your:

      • Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
      • proof of employment letter

    Employment Options for F-1 Students

    As an F-1 student, you are allowed to work in the U.S. with the proper authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You may engage in either on-campus employment or off-campus practical training. Practical training allows you to engage in off-campus work to gain practical experience in your field of study through either Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT), or severe economic hardship.

    • On-Campus Employment

      As an F-1 student, you are permitted to work on campus if you are in good status:

      • no more than 20 hours during the term
      • full-time when school is not in session or during the annual vacation

      You can review employment opportunities on our website and at our on-campus vendors. Once you are admitted for initial entry to begin a new program, you may begin on-campus employment no sooner than 30 days prior to the start of classes. You may not work on campus during the 60-day grace period following completion of a course of study, except in the following situations:

      • employment authorized for OPT
      • employment between academic levels at the same school
      • employment between programs when transferring school
      • concurrently-enrolled students.

      On-campus employment is "incident to status." "Incident to status" means that as long as you are maintaining your F-1 status, on-campus employment is allowed. If you fall out F-1 status for any reason, your employment eligibility ends immediately.

    • Practical Training: Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

      Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an off-campus work authorization in your field of study, such as through  work-based learning. You may participate in work-based learning only if it is a part of your degree program. You may be eligible to participate in CPT once you have been in valid F-1 status for a minimum of one year. Once you have registered for the work-based learning (WBL) class, visit the Central Piedmont international programs and services office to have us authorize CPT on your I-20.

    • Practical Training: Optional Practical Training (OPT)

      Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training (Pre-OPT) is a 12-month work authorization granted by USCIS to work in your field of study prior to completing your degree (while you are still attending school full time). Under Pre-OPT, you may only work part time (no more than 20 hours per week). Time on Pre-OPT is deducted at half the rate from the 12-month total of OPT upon graduation.

      Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a 12-month work authorization granted by USCIS to work in your field of study upon completion of your degree. Visit the Central Piedmont international programs and services for the OPT application.

    • Practical Training: Severe Economic Hardship Employment

      As an F-1 student, you may be eligible to apply for off-campus employment authorization based on severe economic hardship. You may be eligible to claim severe economic hardship after being in valid F-1 status for one academic year. Prior to beginning employment, you must receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS. As part of the application, you need to demonstrate that:

      • there is an unforeseen severe economic necessity beyond your control
      • other employment opportunities are not available or insufficient.

      Visit the Central Piedmont international programs and services office economic hardship details and application information.

    Finances

    • North Carolina Nonprofit Entity Sponsorship

      Per G.S. 115D-39 (c), a nonprofit charitable or religious corporation or civil league may sponsor a person who has been lawfully admitted to the United States, is living in NC, and attending a community college. If you get sponsorship, the nonprofit charitable or religious corporation will pay your in-state tuition rate on your behalf. To be eligible to provide sponsorship, the organization must meet the following conditions:

      • be incorporated under the laws of North Carolina
      • submit a copy of the organization's article of incorporation and federal tax identification number or federal employer's identification to Central Piedmont
      • submit a signed affidavit agreeing to pay your tuition and required fees
      • may not sponsor more than five students per year under this provision
      • pay the in-state tuition and required educational fees using a check bearing the printed name of the nonprofit charitable or religious corporation

      If you receive sponsorship, you will be required to provide an updated letter of sponsorship each semester. It is your responsibility to submit the updated letter before the tuition due date. Your sponsor will then be billed for your tuition and fees for that semester. If you are sponsored by the Saudi Cultural Mission, you are responsible for covering the cost of all fees associated with your tuition.

    • Social Security Number

      As an F-1 student, you are only eligible to receive a social security number if you will receive payment for on- or off-campus employment with the proper authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you are entering a health science program, remember that, depending on your program, a social security number may be required for state licensure. Central Piedmont's international resources and programs office can assist you in finding on-campus employment.

      • Taxes

        The following information is intended for informational use only. The international programs and services staff at Central Piedmont are not qualified to provide tax advice and disclaims any and all liability resulting from providing this information.

        • Tax season in the U.S. is typically between January 1 through April 15.
        • Most international students are required to file federal income tax forms, regardless of whether or not you were employed in the U.S. You and your dependents (if applicable) are required to file IRS Form 8843 during the tax period.
        • If you earned income in the U.S., you are required to file other tax forms in addition to Form 8843.
        • Be sure to check with a tax professional to ensure you have filed required forms be the deadline.
        • Consult the IRS Tax Guide for Aliens (PDF) for additional information.
        • Free tax assistance is available to Central Piedmont students through our Single Stop office.
        • Review the IRS Alert Scam Phone Calls page for resources to help you avoid falling victim to a scam from criminals claiming to be from the IRS in an attempt to get your personal information or money.

      Accommodations

      • Housing

        Central Piedmont does not have student housing on campus. However, there are many housing options close to each campus. We have provided some options that aren't affiliated or endorsed by Central Piedmont, but were selected by students.

        Apartments near Central Campus:

        Apartment Search allows you to search for apartments near any Central Piedmont campus.

      • Furnishings

        Already have a place to live but need furnishings? Ikea is here for you as well as furniture CORT furniture rental options. Contact charlotteDHQ@cort.com with questions regarding CORT packages or affiliated apartments.