International Student | Technical College of the LowCountry

International Student


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Frequently Asked Questions:

What is an International Student?

An international student is someone holding a temporary student visa (F1 Visa) who is enrolled in college courses in the United States. A student visa is a non-immigrant visa, and students are expected to return to their country after completing their studies. Immigrants (permanent residents), citizens, refugees, and resident aliens are not considered international students.

What is an F1 Visa?

An F-1 non-immigrant visa is an immigration document that permits a citizen of a foreign country to enter the U.S. to pursue a full course of study at an academic institution that is SEVP-certified and has been authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to offer courses to foreign students. At the completion of studies, the student is required to return to his or her residence abroad.

What is a non-immigrant visa?

A non-immigrant visa is an immigration document that permits a citizen of a foreign country to enter into the U.S. for a temporary period of time. It also determines what a non-immigrant is allowed to do while in the U.S. There are many different types of visas, depending on the primary purpose for coming to the U.S.

When non-immigrants apply to visit the United States, they must declare their primary purpose for visiting. Non-immigrants must declare this purpose at least twice: once when applying for a visa at a United States embassy or consulate and again at the U.S. port-of-entry (POE) where they arrive in the United States. The declared primary purpose determines the type of visa needed and the non-immigrant class of admission when admitted at the POE. For example, if your primary purpose for entering the U.S. is to study, it is in your best interest to get an F-1 student visa.

However, TCL will accept non-immigrants already in the U.S. with a visa type other than an F-1 student visa as long as the specific visa has no restrictions to prevent the non-immigrant from studying in the U.S. and as long as fulfillment of visa obligations continues. Individuals that fall into this category do not have to go through the International Student process and will work directly with Admissions Counselors.

To find out whether your current visa status allows you to study, please read Non-immigrants: Who can Study?, a document published by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program.

If you are currently in the U.S. under a visa status that does not allow full-time or part-time study, you may need to change your visa status to that of an F-1 student.

What do students need to do:

A) If you have applied to TCL and wish to do a change of Visa status to F1, please contact the PDSO at acadmus@tcl.edu or 843-525-8356.  If you currently reside outside of the U.S., please complete the TCL Application PDF 2019 and submit to Ali Cadmus at acadmus@tcl.edu.  If you currently reside in the U.S. with a valid address, please apply online at www.tcl.edu/apply.

B) If you are on an F1 Visa studying at another school, you must complete the transfer process.  Please contact the PDSO, Ali Cadmus, at acadmus@tcl.edu or 843-525-8356.

C) If you have applied to TCL on a non-immigrant Visa, please provide the following documentation to your Admissions Counselor:

  • Copy of passport, visa, I-94 form and any documentation or notice from Immigration regarding your visa status.

D) If you have applied to TCL and are a permanent resident, you must submit your Permanent Resident Card to admissions and any residency documentation, if applicable.

E) If you have applied to TCL under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), please submit the following to Admissions:

  • Employment Authorization Card
  • Valid state ID or Driver’s License

F) If you have applied to TCL under Refugee and Asylum Status, please submit proper documentation regarding their status after they have applied to their Admissions Counselor.

G) If you are a student that is submitting Foreign High School or College Transcripts, they must be evaluated by a professional credential evaluation service.  Students typically use the following services:

  • World Educational Services (WES)-www.wes.org
  • Global Credential Evaluation Services (GCEUS)-www.gceus.com