Please use the tabs below for information on other topics and services.
- I-20 Updates
- Transfer In
- Transfer Out
- Change of Status
- Reduced Course Load (RCL)
- Financial Assistance
- Family Visit Letter
- Online Classes
- Final Semester
- Social Security Cards
- Texas Driver's Licenses & ID Cards
It's very important that your I-20 be accurate. Please contact your international student counselor if you make any changes to your academic program such as a change in major or level of study.
It's also important that you pay attention to the program end date on your I-20. If you need more time to complete your program you will have to apply for an extension.
If you have been studying at another institution in the United States in F-1 status and plan to enroll at Texas Tech University, you will need to complete an F-1 school transfer with the Office of International Affairs. You will first need to have an appropriate admission from a Texas Tech admission office. After admission to Texas Tech, you should complete the Incoming F-1 Transfer Form with the international office at your previous school. The international office at the last school you attended also must release your SEVIS immigration record to Texas Tech. Texas Tech will then be able to issue a transfer I-20 to you.
Upon arrival in Lubbock, students must report to the International Student and Scholar Services office at the International Cultural Center (campus map here). You can make an appointment to see your counselor here. Failure to report to the ISSS office may result in the termination of your SEVIS record.
Students who will travel outside the United States for a short period of time before reporting to Texas Tech should discuss their plans with an International Student Counselor before making arrangements to leave the United States. If you do leave the country and re-enter you must do so using your Texas Tech I-20.
Students who have completed a degree program at another school and have been authorized Optional Practical Training will need to provide a copy of the EAD card showing maintenance of continuous F-1 status. Keep in mind that your OPT employment authorization will end as of the SEVIS transfer release date.
Questions about the transfer process should be directed to an International Student Counselor. Questions about other matters related to attending Texas Tech (scholarships, housing, orientation, etc.) should be directed to the appropriate Texas Tech office.
The flowchart below provides an overview of the F-1 transfer-in process.
There are two ways of becoming an F-1 student in the United States. The prospective student can leave the United States, thus ending the previous nonimmigrant status, obtain an F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate and re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status; or the prospective student can remain in the United States and file an application for the change of status with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In each case, the first step is to gain academic admission to a school in the United States. As a result of such admission, the school may issue the prospective student a Form I-20; however, the prospective student and the school must agree on the means of obtaining F-1 status. The I-20 for changing status by travel is different from the I-20 a student will need to apply for a change of status in the US. There are many factors that must be considered in choosing which option to follow.
You may also wish to consult a board-certified immigration attorney (there are several immigration law offices in Lubbock). Prospective students who have family members in the U.S. as nonimmigrant dependents must also change the dependents to F-2 or another appropriate status.
Persons who choose to get an F-1 visa for re-entry in F-1 status should follow the general instructions for applying for an F-1 visa. These persons should also consult the U.S. Department of State (DOS) instructions for "Border Consulates" if they want to apply for the visa in Canada or Mexico rather than in their home country (Border Consulates information is available on the DOS website here).
A change of status through DHS can take up to 6 months. Students must check with an International Student Counselor to determine if, without violating immigration rules, they may register and begin classes before a change of status application is approved. Under current immigration rules, F-2s (for example) can only attend school half time until after DHS approves a change of status. In any case, while the change of status is pending, the student does not have any of the benefits of F-1 status, (such as on-campus employment authorization) until the change of status has been formally approved by DHS. Once approved, the student will be in F-1 status, but will not have an F-1 visa in their passport. An F-1 visa is not necessary unless the student is traveling outside the United States. A visa is required only when the student is applying for entry into the United States.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Applications for changes of status are personal immigration applications. ISSS will issue the I-20 and look over the materials, at the student's request, but we can take no responsibility for the denial or approval of these applications. There are many factors involved in these cases (immigration history, complicated questions on the application form I-539, etc..) and questions that ISSS advisors can not answer. We strongly encourage all applicants for changes of status, therefore, to seek the assistance of a board-certified immigration attorney.
ISSS provides a Change of Status Checklist for students that plan to apply without the assistance of a board-certified immigration attorney.
International students and scholars in the United States are not exempt from reporting their income. The tax system of the United States can be very complex and difficult to understand, especially for foreign visitors.
TTU/HSC employees can take advantage of the GLACIER software, free of charge. TTU/HSC has purchased a license agreement so that our nonresident employees and students can use GLACIER Tax Prep to prepare your U.S. income tax return. GLACIER Tax Prep typically becomes available the last week of January. Once it is available, a separate email will be sent to nonresident employees and students that have completed their Individual Record in GLACIER with complete instructions on how to access and use GLACIER Tax Prep. GLACIER Tax Prep is only available for non-resident alien tax returns. If you are a resident alien for tax purposes, you will need to file the same tax returns as U.S. citizens. Questions about the GLACIER system should be directed to the Texas Tech Tax and Compliance office. That office can also answer questions about whether or not a non-resident employee or student can legally accept COVID 19 economic stimulus funds from the US Federal Government.
Please be advised that TTU/HSC does not assist in the preparation of your U.S. income tax return or provide any individual income tax advice.
Note: International Students that are receiving scholarships in some form from TTU but will not be employed will need to file taxes and report these monies. In order to file a tax form, these students will need an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). In order to get an ITIN the student will need to supply a letter to the Texas Tech Tax Compliance Office. These letters will be provided by an international student counselor in the Office of International Student and Scholar Services.
Instructions and forms are available on the IRS webpage at www.irs.ustreas.gov. Please note that failure to properly complete tax reports may constitute a violation of immigration status
Transferring from Texas Tech to another university requires that we transfer your SEVIS record to your new institution. In order to do this our office requires an admissions letter for your new school as proof of admission. We also ask that you fill out this SEVIS Release form.
You can make an appointment to discuss the transfer out process here.
An F-1 student who has failed to properly maintain F-1 status (termed being "out-of-status") can regain F-1 status by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the "reinstatement" process. A student who is out-of-status must discuss the situation with their assigned International Student Counselor. Based on the facts of the individual situation, the student and counselor must determine whether the student will be best served by applying to DHS for reinstatement or by exiting the U.S. and re-entry on a new F-1 program. In either case, the student will need a new I-20 issued by the International Student Counselor. A student who suspects that he or she is out-of-status should contact their assigned International Student Counselor immediately. Students that remain in the US after going out of status are considered illegally present and must take action. Remaining out of status without taking action can result in a bar from receiving a new visa stamp in your passport and from entering the US.
Note: It is currently taking up to one year to get a reinstatement application approved. For this reason, when possible, we normally recommend that you travel and re-enter the US to change your status (you will need to speak with your counselor about that process)
To be eligible for reinstatement a student must be enrolled as a full-time student, must not have worked without employment authorization, must not have been out of status for five months or more, and must be able to show conclusively that the violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student's control. In certain cases, an applicant may be required to pay the SEVIS fee. While the application is pending, the student does not have the benefits of F-1 status, including on-campus employment authorization. Reinstatement requests are currently taking up to a year to process.
The ISSS office reserves the right not to issue a reinstatement I-20 for students that have lost their F-1 status due to particularly egregious carelessness (e.g. criminal behavior). Such students will have to leave the country and reenter to regain their status.
More information on the reinstatement process can be found here.
An F-1 student's spouse and children may be eligible for F-2 status. Individuals in F-2 status have the following benefits:
- May study part-time at Texas Tech or other university or college
- May travel internationally with or without the F-1 primary
- Children in F-2 status may enroll in elementary or secondary school if admitted
However, individuals with F-2 status are not eligible for work authorization. And if an F-2 dependent would like to enroll at a university or college he or she would have to go through the change of status process as described elsewhere on our website.
In order for an ISSS counselor to issue an F-2 I-20 the following documents are required: proof of adequate funding to support the dependents during their stay and a copy of their passport bio page.
With an I-20 issued for the entry of each F-2 dependent into the U.S., the family members can apply for F-2 visas at a U.S. consulate. They must be prepared to provide financial evidence and evidence of intent to return home after being in the U.S. Approval of F-2 visa applications is not guaranteed simply by the fact that the F-1 spouse or parent is in the United States. With the I-20 and F-2 visas, the family members are eligible to come to the U.S. Upon arrival in the U.S., the family members are required to report to the Office of International Affairs with their immigration documents. Current address information for F-2 dependents must be maintained with the Office of International Affairs and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) just as it is for F-1 students.
The immigration regulations allow F-1 students to take less than a full course load under extremely limited circumstances. These circumstances are limited to the following situations:
- Health reasons
- Initial difficulty with the English language or reading requirements (first year of study only)
- Unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods (first year of study only)
- Improper course level placement
- Completion of studies (i.e. a student's final semester)
This is an exclusive list. There are no exceptions to the above list. Dropping a class because it is "too hard" (outside of the reasons given above) or because failure may adversely impact your GPA or a scholarship is not a valid use of the RCL option. Plan your schedule accordingly.
For further clarity, please see this RCL flowchart.
RCL Form to be completed by the student and their academic or graduate advisor
The ISSS office is unable to provide direct financial assistance to our international students. We do provide links to scholarship and financial assistance. Please follow the link below.Scholarships and Financial Assistance Page
ISSS does not issue letters for students who want to invite family or friends to visit. The Department of State does not consider these letters from ISSS in their decision regarding whether or not to issue visas for these friends or family members. Please see the note below found on the Department of State web page on applying for US visas:
Note: Visa applicants must qualify on the basis of the applicant's residence and ties abroad, rather than assurances from U.S. family and friends. A letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support is not needed to apply for a non-immigrant tourist visa. If you do choose to bring a letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support to your interview, please remember that it is not one of the factors that we use in determining whether to issue or deny a non-immigrant tourist visa. Link
For information and instructions regarding family and friends that are eligible to enter the US without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), please visit Department of State VWP website.
Students may choose to write letters confirming their relationship to these family members and to invite them (the family member may also choose to provide documents proving their relationship to you, such as a birth certificate). You can find a template for your letter: Sample Invitation Letter For Family to Visit. ISSS letters, however, are not helpful or required, based on this DOS guidance.
F-1 students at Texas Tech are required to maintain a full-time course load every Fall and Spring semester (9 credits for graduate students; 12 credits for undergraduates). If you wish to enroll in an online course, no more than 3 online course credits may count towards your full-time course of study requirement.
In other words, undergraduates must take at least 9 credits of face-to-face classes and graduate students must take at least 6 credits of face-to-face classes in addition to any online courses that are taken.
This rule does not apply during the summer semester; students are free to take any classes they like in the summer.
If you have any questions, please email your international student counselor.
Please take note of the following regarding your final semester:
- Notify your international student counselor via email that you are finishing your program and your intentions after you graduate (OPT, return home, new program, etc.).
- There is no minimum course load requirement in your final semester; you may enroll for only those classes you need to graduate.
- If your plan is to apply for OPT, you can find the forms and instructions here. You can apply for OPT up to 90 days before the end of your program.
- Once you graduate you have a 60-day grace period to either: return home, apply for OPT, or start another academic program at Texas Tech or elsewhere.