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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

No, SJC does not require that you purchase an insurance policy; however, with the cost of medical treatment in the U.S., we highly recommend that you cover yourself by purchasing insurance. Your DSO can help you find low-cost insurance providers. Don't be without insurance!

International students applying from their home countries must provide original transcripts to San Jacinto College Enrollment Services Office.


(609) 771-7100

ENGLISH LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY Submit an English Language Proficiency Score. Acceptable tests are: TOEFL, CELSA, IELTS, MELAB. A student may be admitted in the ESOL Program with a minimum score of: TOEFL

Ø 330 (Paper-Based test)

Ø 53 (Computer-Based Test)

Ø 16 (Internet-Based Test)

To be accepted into the ESOL Program, we do not accept the IELTS or the MELAB. The TOEFL has to be taken. A student may be admitted to an Academic program with a minimum score of: TOEFL

Ø 525 (Paper-Based test)

Ø 193 (Computer-Based Test)

Ø 70 (Internet-Based Test)


Ø A score in the Band 6 range


Ø 79 percent on each of the three sections (essay, grammar, and oral)

§ If outside of the U.S., submit an Official TOEFL score. Once you have taken the TOEFL, you will need to send us your scores. Our TOEFL I.D. number is South: 6730, Central: 6694; North: 6729.

§ If inside the U.S., students may take the COMPASS ESL exam at San Jacinto Community College District. A minimum score of 92 on the Reading & Listening sections & a 94 on the Grammar/Writing section will allow a student to be admitted into the academic program with additional placement

OR EXEMPTION from the English Language Proficiency Requirement due to:

§ Two years attendance and graduation from U.S. High School


§ Successful completion of college level English from an accredited U.S. college or university

§ The TOEFL test is not required for students from the following countries: Australia, The Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Botswana, Cameroon, Cayman Islands, English speaking Canadian provinces, The Fiji Islands, Gambia, Ghana, Guyana, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Malta, Nauru, Nigeria, New Zealand, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Tobago Trinidad, United Kingdom, The Virgin Islands, the West Indies, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Yes. You are required to take and complete a minimum of 12 semester credits each term you are enrolled at San Jacinto College.

Students with F-1 visas who take less than a full course load may become out of status and risk penalties by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), up to and including deportation.


Yes. San Jacinto College offers 3 levels of college-credit ESOL courses. Students must take the Compass ESL placement exam to assess his/her English speaking, writing and reading skills.

Yes. New students are required to attend new student orientation if you began college in fall 2010 or it is your first-time in a U.S. college. In addition, you are required to attend an international student orientation. You must attend BOTH orientation sessions before you can register for classes.

International students are charged out of state tuition rates. For the 2010-2011 academic year tuition is $63.00 per credit hour. International students with F-1 visas are required to take a minimum of 12 credits per semester. In addition to tuition, you should factor in approximately $750 per semester in books, plus living and personal expenses.

No. Financial aid is not offered to international students. International students must have sufficient funds to cover all expenses incurred while at San Jacinto College: tuition, fees, books, housing, transportation, living expenses, travel and all costs.

Yes. San Jacinto College provides services to students with disabilities, ranging from providing note takers to sign language interpreters, and quiet testing rooms to extended test times. Services are provided free of charge to students, but documentation of the disability is required.

Call 281-922-3444 for more information.

San Jacinto College considers all applicants without regard to race, creed, color, sex, age, national origin or disability.


No. San Jacinto College does not provide housing to students. However, apartment buildings are located within walking distance of the college. In addition, many private parties advertise rooms for rent on bulletin boards around campus.

Yes. Even though you may have a valid F-1 Visa and I-20 from another school, you will still need an I-20 from San Jacinto College.

Important: Your previous school must release certain information to us before we can issue you an I-20. Notify the International Student Office at your previous school about your transfer plans so processing of your I-20 is not delayed.


Students begin the application process too late. Make sure your application materials are delivered on time.

English proficiency scores are too low for the student to be admitted.

Students submit photocopies instead of originals for transcripts and bank documents.

Applicants submit old or questionable financial documents.

Their change of status application was denied.


The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is designed to help the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State better monitor school and exchange programs and F, M and J category visitors.

Exchange visitor and student information is maintained in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). SEVIS is an Internet-based system that maintains accurate and current information on non-immigrant students (F and M visa), exchange visitors (J visa), and their dependents (F-2, M-2, and J-2).

SEVIS enables schools and program sponsors to transmit mandatory information and event notifications via the Internet, to the DHS and Department of State (DOS) throughout a student or exchange visitor's stay in the United States.


A citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter the United States (U.S.) generally must first obtain a U.S. visa, which is placed in the traveler’s passport, a travel document issued by the traveler’s country of citizenship. Certain international travelers may be eligible to travel to the U.S. without a visa if they meet the requirements for visa-free travel. The Visa section of this website is all about U.S. visas for foreign citizens to travel to the U.S.

(Note: U.S. citizens don’t need a U.S. visa for travel, but when planning travel abroad may need a visa issued by the embassy of the country they wish to visit. In this situation, when planning travel abroad, learn about visa requirements by country, see Country Specific Travel Information in the International Travel section of this website.)

How Can I use a Visa to Enter the U.S.?

Having a U.S. visa allows you to travel to a port of entry, airport or land border crossing, and request permission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspector to enter the U.S. While having a visa does not guarantee entry to the U.S., it does indicate a consular officer at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad has determined you are eligible to seek entry for that specific purpose. DHS/CBP inspectors, guardians of the nation’s borders, are responsible for admission of travelers to the U.S., for a specified status and period of time. DHS also has responsibility for immigration matters while you are present in the U.S.

What Types of Visas Are There?

The type of visa you must obtain is defined by U.S. immigration law, and relates to the purpose of your travel. There are two main categories of U.S. visas:

Reading and Understanding a Visa

The first step for a prospective nonimmigrant student is being accepted for enrollment in an established school which is SEVP certified. When all requirements are fulfilled, your application will be evaluated for official admission and if accepted, the Form I-20 and letter of acceptance will be issued by the college you are applying to. You must submit the I-20 to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your home country in order to obtain the “F-1" Student visa. Because each student’s personal and academic situation is different, two students applying for same visa may be asked different questions and be required to submit different additional documents.

What other documentation is required to apply for a student visa?

• Form I-20. You will need to submit a SEVIS generated Form, I-20, which was provided to you by your school.You and your school official must sign the I-20 form.

• Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160.

• A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States. If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must complete an application.

• One (1) 2x2 photograph.

• MRV fee receipt to show payment of the visa application fee.

• I-901 fee receipt.


When you enter the United States on a student visa, you will usually be admitted for the duration of your student status. That means you may stay as long as you are a full time student, even if the F-1 visa in your passport expires while you are in the U.S.

On-Campus Employment
F-1 students may work at any on-campus job that does not displace a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR). They can work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session. They may work full-time during those periods when school is not in session or during the student’s annual break. Not complying with these guidelines for on-campus employment may be a violation of status that could result in the student having to leave the United States.

Off-Campus Employment
F-1 students are allowed to enter the United States for academic studies. They are required to show that they will be able to afford the costs of school and living expenses prior to entry and should not plan on being allowed to work off-campus. Off-campus employment is authorized only in cases of severe economic hardship occurring subsequent to a student’s enrollment in an academic program or in emergent circumstances as defined by DHS.


Yes, as long as you have not violated your student status, you may legally remain in the United States with an expired F-1 visa. However, if you exit the U.S., you must have a valid visa for re-entry.

No. For more information about visa applications visit the Department of State website at

DSO stands for designated school official. A DSO is responsible for reporting and updating information to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) about the F-1 student's situation.

What is the Texas Success Initiative (TSI)?

The State of Texas and San Jacinto College requires that all students must be tested to determine readiness to enroll in college-level courses. This requirement is referred to as the Texas Success Initiative (TSI). A major emphasis of TSI is to ensure that all students be tested to determine if they are "college ready" in reading, writing and mathematics. Testing is mandatory and must be completed prior to one's first enrollment at SJC, unless it is determined that the student has been waived or exempted from TSI requirement. See your college counselor for more information.


An F-1 student is admitted to the United States to work towards "the attainment of a specific educational or professional objective." Therefore, it is important to develop your degree plan with a counselor. Counselors assist students in developing degree plans, which serve as a roadmap for students. Students who complete degree plans at the end of the first semester are more likely to achieve their educational goals within the expected time.

Our counseling staff promotes access and success for all students through a total-collegiate experience. Counselors, in partnership with instructors, provide high-quality support services for the SJC student body. Our many locations provide easy access to counselors. After completing the required admission process with a DSO, you will see a counselor for advising.

International students must have transcripts from their home country evaluated by an approved agency in order to have their credits transferred to SJC. See Enrollment Services Office for approved list or view the list here.


Since January 1, 2003, no more than the equivalent of one online/distance education class or 3 SCH per semester may be counted towards the "full course of study" requirement.

You may need to leave the United States to re-establish student status by re-entering the country with a new I-20 or by filing a reinstatement request with the Department of Homeland Security. For more information, please see your DSO to determine the best course for you.

We recommend that you be in Houston one month prior to starting school, so you can get settled in before classes begin. However, you may not enter the United States more than 30 days before your program start date listed on the I-20 form if you are a new student. You must report your entry into the United States at the San Jacinto College campus from which the I-20 was issued.

You will have to meet with a counselor at the campus at which your I-20 was issued and determine how much time is needed to complete your program. Your DSO will advise you. We can extend your program's end date in annual increments if requested by the student BEFORE the end date on your I-20 form. If you fail to extend the date, you may lose your F1 status.

Enrollment involves three processes:

1. Admission

2. Advisement

3. Course enrollment

Once you have decided on a program and campus, contact the Enrollment Services Office for an international student application packet. Once accepted, an International Counselor will contact you and advise on the next steps towards applying for an F1 Visa at your local U.S. embassy or consulate.

Can I FAX or send photocopies of my application materials (bank statement, transcripts, etc.)?

No, prospective international students must submit original materials to complete his/her application.


An F-1 international student must enroll in and maintain a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester as required by USCIS rules and regulations.

Some San Jacinto College District programs (nursing, medical radiography, physical therapy assistant, etc.) have special enrollment requirements.


Entrance into these programs is competitive, and they have a separate application and admission process for each program. Acceptance at a San Jacinto College District campus college does not guarantee acceptance into one of these programs. In most cases, you will need to complete your English and other academic prerequisites before applying to one of these specialized programs. For more information, contact your International Student Advisor.

Yes. U.S. Social Security numbers are approved for people who are authorized to work in the United States. These numbers are used to report your wages to the U.S. government and to determine eligibility for Social Security benefits. If you are temporarily in the United States to attend college, with a non-immigrant F-1 student classification without an on-campus work authorization, you cannot apply for U.S. Social Security. The Social Security Administration will not assign you a number just to enroll in college or school. Please talk to your International Counselor before applying for social security.