Frequently Asked Questions
Do I reach out to your office to request my initial I-20?
No. Your I-20 must be requested from our office by the TCU Office or Department that is admitting you. For language study, that is the Intensive English Program. For undergraduate study, that request comes from International Admissions. For graduate programs, that request will come from the Academic Department or your specific program.
My department is hosting an orientation. Do I still need to attend the International Workshop?
Yes, you do. USCIS requires your attendance at an orientation as part of the guidelines for having issued the visa, and requires our office to verify your presence. The International Workshop will contain some material you might already be familiar with if you’ve studied in the US before, but because we cover immigration law, employment, and TCU culture, there are many particular components that you will not be aware of. Because we receive as many as 150 new students during this time-frame, it is not feasibly possible to conduct one-on-one interviews during the first two weeks.
When may I check into my Residence Hall in order to attend the International Workshop?
Check-in for international students is August 5th, 2019. That arrival date is mandatory.
Are their hotel options near the university?
Yes, TCU has several options located within 1.5 miles of the university. The Marriott Courtyard at 3150 River Run Rd is located close to several restaurants, jogging trails and a number of “high-end” retail stores. A number of other good hotel options are within 4 miles of the university.
My country (or family) has national insurance that covers me in the US. Can I be waived from TCU’s requirement?
No, but it is great that you also have insurance. The US Healthcare system—including insurance—is complex and difficult to navigate. An overnight stay in a US hospital is expensive and can run into several thousand dollars—TCU’s insurance covers 80% of those costs, so having your own insurance as back-up may help with the 20% you are expected to pay out of pocket.
Universities in my country don’t have residence halls or sporting events or student organizations. Can you explain why I have to participate in these things since I am trying to save money?
TCU is ranked #2 nationally for engagement, and we believe that the overall university experience is a significant part of getting an education. Living on campus, participating in extra-curricular programs and other non-graded experiences brings you into the “shared culture” of the TCU experience, one that does not end upon graduation. Relying on data, there is ample evidence—including retention rates—that confirm these experiences are key factors in your growth as a person, and TCU has built its model around a holistic educational experience.
How do I get to TCU upon arrival?
Upon arrival at the DFW airport, you will need to contact either Supershuttle, a taxi, or reach out to Uber or Lyft for transportation to TCU. Because it will be summer and it will be very hot, you should check the Housing & Residence Life website for the precise location of check-in.
Can I work on campus? Off-campus?
Employment on-campus is one of the secondary benefits of the F-1 and J-1 visa. That employment is limited to 20 hours per week during the Fall or Spring Semester. Off-campus employment is a possibility (with special permission) when your program requires an internship or employment as part of the degree. Several degrees—for instance, Business and Music—have work or performance expectations that allow work in very particular circumstances.
What about volunteer employment for the cultural experience?
USCIS considers employment “the exchange of anything for the performance of a task.” Leaf raking in exchange for a room or babysitting in exchange for travel are examples USCIS has listed as “illegal employment,” even when no finances were exchanged. In that context, the only volunteer work that would be acceptable is traditional forms of volunteer work, in situations where others are also volunteering.
I need a Social Security number. Can you help?
The International Office is qualified to assist you with obtaining the necessary documents to apply for a Social Security number, but the process must begin with your having been offered a job. Without a job offer, it is not possible to file for a Social Security number. Once you’ve located an on-campus offer, please visit our office for the papers to request your Social Security number.
As an international student, am I required to file tax paperwork? What if I didn’t work?
All F and J students are required to file their income tax paperwork, even if they did not work in the previous calendar year. TCU Human Resources offers a digital support program called “Glacier” that will allow you to file for your taxes simply, even if you’ve never done so before. Failure to file is a violation of federal law; therefore, you must always file your tax paperwork.
Can I travel outside the US?
All F and J visa students with a valid visa and a valid I-20 or a DS 2019 may travel outside the US. At least once per semester—close to your travel dates—you should have your I-20 signed for travel. If your visa or I-20 is about to expire, you should speak to the International Office prior to your departure. Students from certain countries should carefully weigh their desire to travel with the possibility that returning to the US may prove difficult.
I am failing a class and need to keep my GPA up. Can I drop that class?
In order to drop a class, you must have more than 12 credit hours of class AFTER the drop. USCIS does not allow F or J visa students to drop below 12 credit hours except in their last semester of study.
Does the university have clubs or groups that I may join related to my own culture?
Yes, TCU has a large number of cultural groups and organizations for you to choose from, many of them located on our website. Feel free to communicate directly with these organizations by following the information on their webpage or link.
I have decided to transfer out to another university. What steps should I take?
The most important component of transferring out is obtaining full admission at the new school. Otherwise, you are transferring into a loss of immigration status. Upon admission to the new school, you should bring our office a letter of request to transfer out, signed and requesting a particular date, a transfer form from the new institution and proof of admission.
My parents would like to be able to follow my grades while I’m at TCU. Can they just call your office if they have a question.
No. By federal law (FERPA), no office may give out your information—grades, behavior, etc—without your expressed permission. Parents, we encourage you to request that your son/daughter grant you access to their grades and financial information by his or her formally requesting that of the TCU Registrar’s Office. The student may check a box and give you access to grades and financial information.
How many International Students are currently enrolled at TCU?
TCU currently has over 650 international students, representing approximately 80 countries enrolled.
What is the dominant faith at TCU among international students?
TCU’s international students comprise all major faith-based groups in the world, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.
What are the most commons areas of study among TCU international students?
International Students are found in virtually every degree on campus, but the majority select programs that “transfer well” back to their home countries—Business, Economics, Computer Science, Engineering and Communications all have large populations, but areas like Music, Fashion Design, Actuarial Sciences and Education all have significant numbers of students from around the globe.
So you are implying that international students at TCU often return to their home country?
Yes. TCU international students return home in numbers significantly above the suggested national average of 70%. It is likely to be in the 90% range at the undergraduate level.
What are some of the larger countries represented at TCU?
The top groups of international students at TCU interchange frequently, but currently include Vietnam, China, India, Honduras, El Salvador, Panama, South Korea, Mexico and the United Kingdom.
Is it possible to interview international students when a relevant world event takes place?
Yes. If an official organization wishes to interview a TCU student, that organization will be vetted through the Office of International Services and TCU Communications, and then relevant students will be invited to participate. The sensitivity of particular topics means that students won’t always be willing, and TCU will always respect their request for privacy.