First-Time at HCC F-1 International Student

Welcome, First-Time F-1 International Student!

If you live outside the U.S. and want to attend HCC on an F-1 visa, you are welcome to apply to HCC as an initial F-1 student. The application process for international students requires you to complete key steps and upload specific documents. Please complete each step listed below.

If you are an international student planning to attend HCC on a status different than F-1 (DACA, refugee, L visa, H visa, etc.), please follow the instructions for Non-Internatonal students (First-Time, Transfer, Returning, etc.) on


Admissions Application


Prepare your Documents


Receive your I-20


Check-In & Next Steps for Enrollment


Step 1

Admissions Application

Go to the online application.

  1. Start a new application or continue with a saved application form.
  2. If you selected "Start a new application," on the next screen select "F-1 International" from the left-hand menu.
  3. Fill out and complete all 9 steps of the F-1 application. Record your W number and your password.


Upon completing the application, you will receive your Conditional Approval Letter and a welcome email that contains your HCC Student ID number and P-number (if assigned).


Take the first step. Apply today!

Click here to view a more in-depth tutorial on completing the application.

Visit the HCC Student System and log in with your HCC Student ID number (W000000000) and the Password that you previously created.


Sign in to your HCC account

Click here for additional assistance with gaining access to your account.

The International Student office must receive your application and supporting documents on or before:

  • Fall Semester: June 15 
  • Spring Semester: October 15
  • Summer Semester: March 15


If your application is completed after the deadline, you will automatically be considered for admission for the next available semester.  


Step 2

Prepare your Application Documents

Preparing your application documents

  1. Complete the SEVIS Form I-20 Application. This is a fillable .PDF document that is different from the online application. Add an additional page if there is more than 1 dependent.
  2. Passport photocopy (biometric page only) - If you plan to bring your dependents (spouse/children under 21) on F-2 status, add copies of their passports as well as marriage and birth certificates.
  3. Financial Documentation 
  4. $75 non-refundable Application fee 

    How to pay the fee:
    You can pay the fee online using a credit card or funds transfer from your local bank (via Flywire).  Refer to the International Payment Tutorial (Flywire) for instructions. Please enable pop-ups on your internet browser for online payment. After payment, the receipt will be sent to your email address. Save the receipt as a PDF.

    Note: The payment terms and entrance terms may vary when paying the fee online. This is not a problem as the payment can be tracked by date.


All documents must be saved as PDF files with short names (less than 30 characters). The file name should not contain any invalid characters such as (*:"<>?). Bad-quality or upside-down documents will be rejected. Please combine different document types in 1 PDF file. For example, if you have statements from different banks, save them as one file. To scan and convert a file to PDF format, you can also use free PDF scanner apps (Genius Scan - PDF Scanner, Fast Scanner: Free PDF Scan for Android, Tiny Scanner- PDF scanner, etc.) Upon uploading, the System will automatically add a 3 or 4-digit code and your HCC ID number to the document's name. Do not attempt to modify the document's name!



Upload your documents to your F-1 Student Checklist

  1. Log in to your account on the HCC Student System using your HCC W number and your Password.
  2. In the Student Homepage, click on Checklists
  3. Click on the F-1 Student Checklist to upload the required documents (If you do not see an F-1 Student Checklist, please send an email to with your HCC student ID, "NEW," and the semester you're applying for, written in the subject line. Check your account again within 3 business days, and the F-1 Student Checklist should now be available.)


New applicants should wait about 2 hours after submission of the online application to access their F-1 Student Checklist.

* Monitor your F-1 Student Checklist for additional documents that may be required.

Tutorial - F1 Students Checklist_Prepare and Upload Documents


Check the status of your I-20 application

Login to your HCC Student Sign-In and view your To-Do list (click on Checklists>F1 Student Checklist).  If the only item in your To-Do list is “I-20 In Process”, your application is under review by one of the Designated School Officials (DSO). If you see any other items in your F-1 Student Checklist, you must upload the required documents so that your application can be reviewed. 

After uploading all the required documents, it usually takes approximately 10 business days for the review and processing of the I-20. The duration of this process may vary depending on when the application is submitted and the number of applicants in the queue at that time.

If you haven't heard from us within 10 business days (weekends and holidays are not included), please email  to check the status of your application. Make sure to include your HCC ID in the email subject line.


Receive Your SEVIS Form I-20

Once the office receives all of your documents, you should wait at least 10 business days for the processing of the SEVIS Form I-20. This time will vary depending on when the application is submitted and how many applicants there are at that time. Applications are processed in the order they are received.

The I-20 form and your official acceptance letter with specific instructions will be sent to your preferred email listed on your student's account.



Step 3

After Receiving your I-20

Please note: The United States government is responsible for overseeing each of the steps below.  HCC cannot assist you with paying the I-901 Fee, visa interviews/denials, or entry at the U.S. border.

Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee

Using the information on your I-20, submit SEVIS I-901 Fee payment here:  Print your receipt to present during your visa interview and when you enter the U.S. I-901 fee applies only to the F-1 applicant. The dependent applicants (F-2) do not pay this fee.

A prospective F-1 student with a country of citizenship or country of birth of Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria or Gambia must pay by money order, Western Union Quick Pay or certified check drawn from a U.S. bank. 

All other prospective F students also have the option to make a credit card payment on


Obtain your F-1 Visa

Apply for an F-1 Visa with your U.S. embassy/consulate.  For additional information about this process, review Study in the States’ Five Ways to Prepare for Your Visa Interview.

Visa Denials: If you are denied an F-1 visa on your first attempt, you can re-apply with your U.S. embassy/consulate.  If you will be unable to enter the U.S. by the Program Start Date listed on your I-20, you can defer your attendance to receive an I-20 for the next semester. Please note that you can apply for deferment only by the date listed on your acceptance letter. Applications received after that date will be processed as initial/new applications.

* Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are not required to obtain an F-1 visa. Upon arrival as F-1 students, their passports should show an entry stamp indicating F-1 and D/S (Duration of Status).


Enter the United States

Once you have a valid F-1 visa, you are permitted to enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start date listed on your I-20.  It is recommended that you arrive at least 2 weeks before the Program Start Date listed on your I-20 so that you have enough time to complete the steps required to enroll in classes.  Classes can fill up so you need to arrive as soon as possible to ensure you are able to enroll in the required number of classes. 

If you will be unable to enter the U.S. by the Program Start Date listed on your I-20, you should defer your attendance to receive an I-20 for the next semester.

All Initial F-1 students coming to the United States must be ready to present the following documentation when entering the U.S.:

  1. Original SEVIS Form I-20 – With valid Program Start Date and signed by the Designated School Official/International Student Advisor (DSO/ISA)
  2. Passport – Must be valid for at least six months after the date of your entry.
  3. F-1 Visa – Must be valid and designated for attendance at HCC. Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are not required to obtain an F-1 visa.
  4. Proof of Financial Support – Information showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses.
  5. I-901 Fee Payment Receipt – Validating that the I-901 payment was submitted.  The receipt can be reprinted at

Please review Study in the States’ Getting to the United States for additional instructions about your entry to the U.S.



Step 4

Check-In and Next Steps for Enrollment

F-1 Student Check-in

After you have successfully entered the U.S. on your F-1 visa, you must immediately report virtually to check-In with the Houston Community College Office of International Student Services. 

You will need to provide your HCC ID number, a current local US address, and a US phone, emergency contact information, and prepare to upload copies of the following documents in .PDF:

  1. Form I-20* 
  2. Passport (photo page)* 
  3. F-1 Visa page*(citizens of Canada and Bermuda provide a copy of the passport entry stamp indicating F-1;D/S) 
  4. I-94*  Go to > click on Get most recent I-94.  If you receive an error that your I-94 was "Not Found", follow the directions in this document to request a correction to your I-94 record:I-94 Correction Instructions
  5. Receipt of online payment for the $50.00 orientation fee – you can pay this with a credit card online through the PeopleSoft / Student Account sign-in. For more information, see International Payment Tutorial (Flywire). Allow pop-ups on your browser.
  6. Receipt of SEVIS fee I-901. If you need to retrieve it, go to, and click on “Check I-901 Fee Status’.

*Provide this document for all dependents (spouse/ children) on F-2 visa.

Check-in as a newly arrived student


Meningitis Vaccination

If you are under 22 years old, submit proof of Meningitis Vaccination to the Admissions office at any HCC campus or scan your documentation and send it via email to There are additional alternatives to submitting the proof on the following website:


Complete Checklist Items

Log onto your student Homepage via and complete the Checklist items that prevent enrollmentFinancial Responsibility; Residency Re-affirmation; Meningitis (if under 22 years of age); On-boarding Checklist: Eagle Launch (web orientation), Testing. Negative holds like Int’l Student AdvisementBursar's office, and ESL should be cleared before enrollment with the relevant department (read details of the hold).  Positive holds like “F-1 student” do not affect enrollment. For additional information, review the Checklist Completion Video


Testing Authorization and Transcripts

Meet with Enrollment Services on an HCC campus or via the HCC Virtual Lobby to receive testing authorization. Pay the testing fee at the cashier’s office on campus or via your HCC portal, and bring the receipt to the testing center on campus to take the exam. Make sure to have a photo ID to present before taking the test.

You can find more information about Testing and English proficiency on the following website:  Documents with passing English proficiency scores should be sent to HCC as instructed. Evaluated foreign credentials or U.S transcripts should be sent to  Transcripts | Houston Community College - HCC (


Register for classes

Students placed in ESL/Intensive English levels 0,1 and 2 should contact the ESL department or their Zoom lobby for enrollment/registration. Click to learn more about CE-ESL services and support schedules.

Students placed in ESL/Intensive English levels 3 and 4 and all academic-ready students should meet with an Enrollment Services/Academic Advisor on campus or virtually about the classes they need to take. For help with enrollment, please watch the Class Search and Enroll Video or download the PDF tutorial:  How to search and enroll in classes.

Spring and Fall semesters - F-1 students must enroll in 12 credit hours, of which only ONE (1) class can be 100% online. The remaining classes must be in-person or hybrid classes.

If Summer is the first semester of attendance, F-1 students should enroll in 9 credit hours, of which only ONE (1) class can be 100% online, and the rest must be in-person or hybrid classes. Summer enrollment is not required. It is considered vacation time if you are not enrolled. Students in the Intensive English program will be enrolled in cohort-based courses that do not allow mix-and-match of the classes.


Pay for your classes

Your sponsors can also pay for your classes from their home countries: International Payment Tutorial for government or third-party sponsored students, go to Payment and Scholarship Information at

You can find more about How to Make a Payment or Set Up Payment plan here.


Student Health Insurance

F-1 international students will be automatically enrolled in HCC’s Student Health Insurance Plan. For more information about the plan and applying for a waiver of coverage, please visit


Mandatory Student Orientation

Attendance at the International Student Orientation is MANDATORY. Please visit for more information.

Don't wait for the Mandatory International Orientation to enroll in classes! Classes are filling up quickly!


Additional Resources

Additional Resources

Prepare for your first day of class!

Contact Us

Office of International Student Services

ISP Zoom: