International Student Frequently Asked Questions: Fall 2021

Diablo Valley College is planning a variety of course formats for fall 2021. That is, there will be a selection of in-person, fully online and partially online (combination of online and in-person instruction) courses. While most courses will continue to be only be offered online, in contrast with fall 2020 and spring 2021, there will be increases of in-person courses that maximize student opportunities for safe learning experiences and support. 

Admissions Requirements 

High School Graduation

Financial Support Evidence

Do I need to show financial support evidence to be admitted for fall 2021 even though I will be enrolling in online courses from my home country?  

Financial support evidence is not needed for newly admitted students who enroll in online courses from outside of the U.S. for fall 2021. Financial support evidence will be required, however, to issue an I-20 and obtain an F-1 visa for on-campus, in-person instruction for fall 2021. If you are transferring from a U.S. institution, please contact the international office at your college for guidance about financial support evidence, a transfer I-20 and maintaining F-1 status.


I-20s and F-1 Visas

2. Can I study online in my home country if I do not want to or am unable to travel to the U.S for fall 2021?  
Yes. Students admitted for fall 2021 who are outside of the U.S. have the option of beginning their program of study online from their country of residence. Students intending to do so do not need a student visa. Please communicate with the International Student Office about your situation.
4. Do I need to register for a hybrid or in-person course to obtain my F-1 visa? 
Yes, according to U.S. immigration regulations, you must register for at least one course with an in-person component to obtain your F-1 visa.  Additionally, F-1 international students arriving in the U.S must be enrolled in at least one partially online or fully in-person course for their I-20 to be registered. I-20 registration is required to maintain F-1 immigration status in the U.S.
5. I have already received an initial I-20. Do I need an updated I-20 to arrive for fall 2021?

Your I-20 must have a program start date of 08/23/2021. If your I-20 program start date is different, you will need an updated I-20. Please email from your DVC InSite email with your full name and DVC ID number to request an updated I-20.

6. I have already paid the SEVIS fee. Do I need to pay the SEVIS fee again if my I-20 program start dates are updated for fall 2021?

No. You will not need to pay the fee again if your I-20 needs to be updated with a new program start date.

8. If I've been admitted and received an I-20 for fall 2021, may I defer to spring 2022?  

Yes, an updated I-20 will be issued with a new program start date. Please email the international student office at to request an updated I-20.

9. If I’ve been issued an F-1 visa for fall 2021 but want to defer to spring 2022, do I need a new visa?

You do not need a new visa if your current visa is valid past the date of your (future) entry into the U.S. Please check the visa expiration date on your visa. However, you will need an updated I-20 with a new program start date. Please email for additional questions.

10. If I defer to spring 2022, do I need to prepare updated financial support documentation?

If you have already been issued an I-20 for fall 2021 yet have not obtained a visa, it is strongly recommended that you prepare updated financial support documentation for the visa appointment. 


Travel to the U.S.

1. I am a continuing student who has been studying online from my home country. May I travel to the U.S for a summer session? 

The answer depends on your I-20 as follows:

Students with Active I-20s:  Please contact the international student office at for more information. College staff will review your record to make sure your documents are up to date and that you have the appropriate signatures for travel.

Students with Initial I-20s: No. Students with initial I-20s are not permitted to begin in summer. Your I-20 has been updated with a program start date of 08/23/2021. You are not permitted to arrive in the U.S more than 30 days before this date.

2. Will I be able to travel to the U.S. for fall 2021?  

Travel to the U.S is dependent upon your ability to obtain an F-1 visa.  Please click here to view visa appointment wait times in your country/region. It is also recommended that you confirm this information with your local U.S. Consulate or Embassy. 

4. Are there any special entry requirements to the U.S. for fall 2021?

Yes, travelers to the U.S. must present a negative Covid-19 test before boarding any flight. Upon arrival in the U.S., you may be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. This depends on U.S. immigration regulations in effect at that time. Official information can be found at the U.S. Department of State website. It is also recommended that you contact your nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy as well as the airline you will be flying with.

5. Where have other students self-quarantined?

Students have stayed at either a local hotel or rented rooms through Airbnb for their quarantines. The need to do so depends on U.S. immigration regulations in effect at that time.

Instruction & Support

1. Will online courses be asynchronous (time zone does not matter)?  

Mostly, though each course section will have its own schedule. Students should carefully check the scheduling notes for each course section to determine if a given section of a course includes synchronous instruction. Here is a link to the course schedule search (searchable by college and semester).

2. How will students know which online courses have set class meetings when looking at course descriptions?  

Asynchronous courses (no set class meetings) will have “ONLINE” included in the meeting days/times column, and no days or times will be listed. Also, the comments section will not include references to any required orientations or synchronous class sessions. 

Synchronous courses (online courses that have set class meetings on specific days using Zoom software and on California/Pacific Standard Time) will list the days and times of instruction OR there will be specific synchronous meeting sessions listed in the comments section.

3. What are operating system requirements for taking online courses?

 Students can use any operating system (PC, Mac, Android, iOS) for taking online courses. 

4. What are other technical requirements for taking online courses? 

It is recommended that students have access to a desktop or laptop with audio and video capability and reliable Internet access. Students may use mobile phones, though they will be expected to do extensive typing.

5. What video software will online courses use? 
All courses will use Zoom software.  Students should contact course instructors to ask if any social media such as YouTube will be used that may not be accessible in their regions.
6. How will students access online courses?  
All online courses will be delivered through the online management system. Below is a helpful online learning resources for students at: DVC:
9. Do I need to purchase textbooks for online courses?  

Yes, most online courses require the purchase of textbooks. Textbooks can be purchased online from the college’s bookstore or through other vendors such as Amazon, etc.  Some courses require the purchase of an online ‘course pack,’ which includes access to reading, exercises and quiz materials. Students can purchase online textbooks or course packs using a credit card. However, many courses use open online resources and do not require purchase of course materials. Those courses are designated as Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC).  Below is a link to the DVC Book Center:

DVC Book Center

10. How do I get counseling help to complete my student education plan?
Students can book appointments online. Online drop-in counseling may also be available, depending on your college. Please visit your college’s Counseling Center website for details.
11. How do I register for online classes?

Registration can be done online through InSite from your home country. Priority registration dates and times are listed in InSite under the Registration menu. Students may register for courses until midnight on the first day of classes: August 23, 2021. 

12. Am I required to enroll in a full course of study (12 units) if I am outside the U.S.?  

The answer depends on your I-20 status as follows:

Continuing students with an active I-20: Yes. To maintain your F-1 immigration status, you are required to take 12 units. 

Students outside the U.S with an initial I-20: No. You are not required to maintain 12 units if you plan to study outside the U.S for fall 2021. 

We strongly encourage full-time enrollment due to the temporary provisions of U.S. immigration policy guidance during COVID-19. For additional questions, please contact the international student office at

14. By when do I have to pay the tuition for online courses?

Students should pay the tuition for their online courses as soon as possible. However, if they need to pay in installments or wait to pay, they will not be charged late payment fees. Students should note that, if they have a balance on their account, a registration hold will be placed on their account. This hold will block them from being able to register for the following semester. Once the tuition has been paid, this hold will be automatically removed from their account.

15. Will I be allowed to attend the first few classes/sessions of online courses before deciding whether to continue in or drop a course? 
Yes, you may try online courses for several classes. You are allowed to drop an online course at no charge. The deadline to drop a full-term course is Friday, September 3 for the Fall 2021 semester.
16. Will students be able to receive online tutoring?  
Yes, free online tutoring is available to all students through any Canvas course.
17. How much time per week can students expect to spend for each online course? 

 Students can expect to spend 6 to 9 hours per week (on and offline) per every 3-unit course. 

18.  What other online learning expectations should students be aware of?  

Students should be prepared to actively participate in online courses through frequent interactions with instructors and classmates. This includes contributing to online discussions.



1. Will DVC offer an online orientation to replace the in-person orientation for Fall 2021?

Yes. We will update students (admitted for fall 2021) once orientation details are confirmed.  

2. If I have already attended a new student orientation, do I need to attend another one if I arrive in the U.S. for fall 2021?

Yes, students who are arriving in the U.S. will be required to attend an orientation check-in session. 

Student Life

May I join a student club/organization if I spend my first semester studying online from my home country?

Yes, you may still join a student club(s) as some have online meetings. The colleges have a variety of clubs that have been active in the remote learning environment. Please inquire with the club(s) you are interested in for more information. Below are links to Student Life at: DVC:

Health Insurance and COVID-19

1. Is health insurance mandatory for international students?

If you are inside the United States, health insurance is mandatory for all F-1 students.

2. How much is the health insurance?

The cost of health insurance is $1,524 for 2021-2022. This cost is divided into two payments:

Fall 2021: $635.   Students must pay this before classes begin in August 2021.

Spring 2022: $889   Students must pay this before classes begin in January 2022.

3. If I arrive in the U.S., when will my health insurance coverage begin?

Health insurance coverage for international students begins August 9, 2021. 

5. Does the mandatory health insurance cover COVID-19 vaccinations? 

No, however, the vaccinations do not cost anything. Students need to show a photo I.D. and proof of international student health insurance to schedule a vaccine appointment.

6. Am I able to get vaccinations when I arrive in the U.S.?

Yes.  Please visit the Contra Costa County Health Services site for information.

8. If I am going to stay with a host family (Diablo Valley Homestay), what COVID-19 information do I need to share with Diablo Valley Homestay prior to arriving in the U.S.? 

While it is recommended that students staying with families be vaccinated against COVID-19, the minimum requirement required by Diablo Valley Homestay is proof of a negative Covid test before arrival into the U.S. Students should email the results to 1-2 days before departure.