Northwest Florida State College (NWF) utilizes a holistic and comprehensive advising model to better support students in achieving their academic goals. Advising services are provided in a centralized, one-stop format with options for in-person, phone, and virtual (web-based) sessions. Service areas covered in this model include admissions, registration, records, financial aid, and academic advising, which includes degree and career pathway planning. All services are provided by Student Success Navigators under the authority of the Student Success Navigation department.
All first-time-in-college students, and transfer students with 29 or fewer transferable credits, are required to meet with a Student Success Navigator for new student advising prior to registering for classes during their first term at NWF. Students are strongly encouraged to continue regular meetings with Student Success Navigation throughout the duration of their studies. Student Success Navigators are available for advising services via phone, live chat (web), and in-person at all campus locations.
International students on F-1 Student Visas are required to meet with a designated school official (DSO) prior to registration for each semester. Additionally, F-1 students must physically appear before a DSO at the beginning of each semester to demonstrate presence on campus.
International students are required to maintain full-time enrollment (12 semester credits) for each semester unless on authorized annual vacation or pending completion in the immediate term. A registration hold will be applied to each F-1 student’s account to prevent unauthorized registration changes one week prior to the beginning of classes for each semester. The hold will be lifted upon the opening of the registration period for the upcoming semester and replaced one week prior the beginning of classes. An audit of F-1 student registration will be conducted by a DSO during the schedule adjustment period for each term. Students who are out of compliance will be notified in writing. Students who remain out of compliance beyond the final schedule adjustment period may risk violation of F-1 status and revocation of legal presence in the United States.
Further rules and regulations are defined by the US Department of Homeland Security and may be found online at https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/. Consult a DSO for additional information.
On-Campus Employment for International Students
International students on F-1 Student Visas are permitted to work on-campus with the approval of a Designated School Official (DSO) and under specific guidelines. USCIS requires the work must take place either at the school or at an educationally affiliated (associated with the school’s established curriculum or part of contractually funded research projects at the postgraduate level) off-campus location. On-campus employment must not displace a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR).
An F-1 student has three main employment-related guidelines:
- May work at any qualifying on-campus job that does not displace a U.S. citizen or LPR
- May work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session (full-time during those periods when school is not in session or during the annual vacation)
- Should report offer of employment to a DSO and receive a certification letter to present to the Social Security Administration in order to be able to receive a Social Security number.
Not complying with these guidelines for on-campus employment may be a violation of status that could result in the F-1 student having to leave the United States.
An F-1 student may begin working as much as 30 days before the start of a program of study. they should inform the DSO before they begin work.
If an F-1 student finishes a program (such as an associate’s or bachelor’s degree) and starts another program of study at the same campus, the student may continue on-campus employment as long as the student plans to enroll in the new program of study for the next term. If otherwise eligible, an F-1 student may continue to work on-campus with a pending application for reinstatement or change of status.
To learn more, speak with a DSO or visit https://www.ice.gov/sevis/employment.
Practical Training for International Students
F-1 students have the option of training in the United States by engaging in practical training during a program of study or after the program of study ends. Practical training can provide valuable work experience by sharpening and adding the skills the student is learning in school. There are two types of practical training available for F-1 students: curricular practical training (CPT) and optional practical training (OPT).
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
- CPT is integral to the program of study and the experience must be part of the program of study.
- A DSO will provide a new Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” that shows that the DSO has approved the employment.
- The student can work on CPT either full-time or part-time.
- CPT requires a signed cooperative agreement or a letter from the employer.
- If the student has 12 months or more of full-time CPT, the student is ineligible for OPT, but part-time CPT is fine and will not stop the student from doing OPT.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- OPT must relate to the program of study.
- The student can apply for 12 months of OPT at each education level, (i.e., 12 months of OPT at the associate’s level and another 12 months of OPT at the bachelor’s level).
- A DSO will provide you with a new Form I-20 that shows the DSO recommendation for this employment.
- For work authorization, the student must mail a completed Form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization,” to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and pay a filing fee. USCIS will send a Form I-766, “Employment Authorization Document,” (EAD) upon approving the Form I-765.
- The student must wait to start work until after receipt of the EAD.
- While school is in session, the student may only work 20 hours per week.
24-Month STEM OPT Extension
All F-1 students who are currently on a regular period of OPT and are eligible for a STEM OPT extension must apply for the 24-month STEM OPT extension.
- Students may qualify for an additional 24 months of OPT under the following circumstances:
- The student is currently participating in a regular period of OPT.
- The student received a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) degree at an undergraduate level or higher and is seeking a training opportunity related to this degree.
- The student received a qualifying STEM degree from a currently accredited SEVP-certified college or university.
- The employer from which you are seeking employment uses the E-Verify program.
- The student and the prospective employer have completed and signed the Form I-983, “Training Plan for STEM OPT Students.”
- For more information about the specific eligibility requirements for the 24-month STEM OPT extension, please visit the STEM OPT Hub on https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/.
- Once a DSO verifies that the Form I-983 is complete, they will provide a new Form I-20 that shows their recommendation for this training opportunity.
- The student must apply for work authorization by filing a Form I765 with USCIS and paying a filing fee. USCIS will send an EAD upon approving the petition.
- The student may continue to work on an expired EAD for OPT up to 180 days while the 24-month extension petition is pending if the student meets the following conditions:
- The student is currently in a period of post-completion OPT.
- The student properly and in a timely manner filed the application for the 24-month extension with USCIS.
- The student must report changes in name, address, employer, and loss of employment to a DSO within 10 days of any change.
Annual Vacation for International Students
An annual vacation is an authorized break in a student’s studies that is taken once per academic year and lasts one term. F-1 students are eligible to take an annual vacation after completing their academic year requirement at a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school and once every year after that. For this purpose, Northwest Florida State College defines the academic year as three semesters.
Annual vacation differs from a school break, which occurs when the college closes for a short period of time during a school term (i.e. Spring Break).
Before taking annual vacation, F-1 students should speak with a designated school official (DSO). A DSO can confirm the student’s eligibility for vacation and should sign the student’s Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” if the student plans to travel outside of the United States.
F-1 students must be enrolled in a full course of study any time they are not on annual vacation.
Students admitted to selective admission programs may be required to meet with faculty advisors as directed by the associated academic department. More information on departmental policies and advising may be found on the NWF website at www.nwfsc.edu.