International Students talk Optional Practical Training and tuition refunds at virtual drop-in question hour


Courtesy of San Jose City College website

The International Students Program Office of San Jose City College organized a virtual drop-in/question hour Zoom meeting on May 15.

Four international students were able to take advantage of the meeting time to ask the staff questions. The students who attended were Irene Chen, Chrissy N., Myma Louhenapessy and Junjie Qiu.

The participants from the International Students Program were counselor Doriann Tran, Program Specialist Maria Tcha and Program Specialist Joell Serrano.

There was one question about refunds and whether students will be eligible for the refund of the course fees if they dropped.

Usually the school has students complete a general petition to make sure there is a refund of fees. However, the State Chancellor of Community Colleges Eloy Ortiz Oakley wrote in a March 20 statement students are entitled to a refund of enrollment fees during the coronavirus emergency. SJCC is still working on the adjustments.

International students withdrawing from a course without prior approval from the International Student Program will jeopardize their F-1 status.

International students need to email Cac Nguyen, who is an adjunct counselor for the General Counseling Department, or email Tran to explore whether they may be eligible to reduce their course load without affecting their F-1 status.

She mentioned the other fees such as campus health fees are not refunded as Health Services is still offering remote services. Students were eligible to obtain a partial refund on parking if they submitted a form.

Also, the pass/no pass deadline has been extended until the end of the semester, which is May 22.

Qui asked if international students could go back to China in summer break and come back before fall.

Tran said that If students return home for the summer break, they need to complete the Checklist For Travel Outside The U.S. form and email Tcha to arrange to have their I-20 document signed.

As long as the I-20 is signed and students have a valid F-1 visa, they should be able to return for the fall term. However, due to travel restrictions, there will always be a small level of risk when the students travel back to the U.S.

Chrissy N. asked about SJCC degrees and transferring. Tcha said she should ask her adviser to make sure she has completed all the courses. If not, she can register for the summer or fall term to finish.

For transferring, if she was accepted to a school, she should submit the acceptance letter and fill out a Transcript Request Form.

“SJSU has this transfer form; some schools will not have it. So if your school doesn’t have that, email your adviser to ask a correct school,” Tcha said.

For students who are graduating, there were some questions about the Optional Practical Training application.

Tcha said before applying for Optional Practical Training, make an appointment with the international academic counselor to determine if you have completed your degree requirements before applying for OPT.

If you qualify, complete the Application for Employment Authorization I-765 form. When students receive the Employment Authorization Document card, submit a copy it to The International Student Center.