Several international students met last Friday for their summer orientation at Oklahoma City Community College.
Julia Bay, Associate Director of International Student Services, spoke about the stipulations students face in enrollment and maintaining an international status. “International students have a lot more to do than domestic students,” she said.
The material was heavily focused on maintaining paperwork, known as an I-20, and ensuring the information is up to date and never lost.
“We want to make sure that your I-20 is active at all times while you’re in the U.S,” she said. International students have ten days to update not only the school system, but Bay as well, she said. “If they miss this or any other due date there can be very serious penalties,” she said.
Bays said there are ramifications for entering and leaving the United States for any reason. She stressed the importance of ensuring that a student passport is always current for at least six months or international students won’t be allowed to enroll.
The visa is no exception, she said. Until the documentation is current a student can’t enter or leave the country.
“To be honest the CBP (Custom Border Protection) says that you can come into the country even on the last day of your visa being valid. But I would give it a week. Who knows? With the new administration what changes are going to happen. I would be really careful about when you enter the country last,” she said
All in all the weight of being an international student is great, and not just on the academic side of things. Something as simple as not eating food from your home country can be difficult. Lenora is an international student who has been in the states for three years. She expressed being well-adjusted after all that time. But the two things she misses the most are the food of her home country and the climate. “I think there is maybe one African store in all of Oklahoma city where you can buy some food. But it’s never fresh and it isn’t home.”