Frequently Asked Questions
skip to main content

Frequently Asked Questions


Where is El Camino College located?
El Camino College is located in Torrance, California, which is a safe, suburban city within Los Angeles County just minutes from beaches and less than 30 minutes from downtown LA.

How safe is the ECC campus?
At ECC, we take the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff very seriously. The preservation of life, protection of property, prevention of criminal behavior and the creation of a safe environment is our foremost responsibility. El Camino Community College employs a full campus police department that is available 24 hours a day/7 days per week (including holidays) and dedicated to safety and service of our students.

What is an I-20 form?
The I-20 form is the document you need from El Camino College in order to apply for your F-1 student visa at the U.S. Consulate located in your home country. You will also need to present your I-20 form at the U.S. border, along with your F-1 visa and other supporting documents, in order to be able to enter the U.S. as an F-1 student.

How long does it normally take to get an I-20 from ECC once I apply?
After we receive the completed application, required documents, and $50.00 processing fee, it will take approximately one week to review, accept and issue the I-20 document necessary for the F-1 visa interview at the U.S. Consulate.

How do I make my visa interview appointment?
You should wait to schedule your visa appointment until you have received your original I-20 form from El Camino College. Remember that it takes approximately one week after receiving your application for us to process it for acceptance and mail out your I-20.
1. Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application
2. Pay the required SEVIS fee
3. Schedule your visa appointment at the U.S. Consulate.
4. Prepare for the visa appointment.

What happens if my visa is denied?
If you receive a visa denial, request a denial letter from the U.S. Consulate so that you will understand why your visa was denied. The main reason given for a visa denial is failure of the applicant to prove they have permanent ties to their home country. Learn more about visa denials

I do not have an English proficiency test score (or my score is too low) can I still attend El Camino College?
Yes. El Camino College has an intensive English academy on our campus that will prepare you to transfer into our academic program. Visit the El Camino Language Academy (ECLA) page to learn more about their program and how to apply.

Do F-1 students need health insurance to study at ECC?
All F-1 Visa students are required to purchase El Camino College designated medical insurance. You can find more information about the insurance company at and the current cost on our Medical Insurance page.

Can I waive the El Camino College student health insurance?
No. All F-1 students are required to purchase the El Camino College designated medical insurance; student medical insurance waivers are not accepted.

How can my dependents (spouse and children) come with me to the US?
Only a spouse and/or child(ren) under the age of 21 can accompany you as a dependent. Parents, grandparents, and other relatives are not eligible to come to the U.S. with you as your F-1 dependent.

What do I need to do once I reach the US?
Upon arrival to the U.S., you must check in at the ISP office at El Camino College within 10 days of arrival. Students are allowed to enter the U.S. as early as 30 days in advance of the program start date on their I-20.

How can I update my address and phone number?
It is required that international students report a change of address within 10 days of moving to the ISP office.

Where can I find information about housing?
Although El Camino College does not have on-campus housing available for students, we hope to ensure that our students have information about housing options to assist in their housing search. We suggest students start the search for housing options several months before their expected move in date. Nearby housing options, including homestay information, can be found by downloading our Housing Brochure.

How can I apply for a driver license or photo ID card?
The requirements and steps to apply for a California driver's license or ID card can be found on the California DMV website. 

Academic Counseling

I took university courses in my home country, can I transfer those credits to El Camino College?
In order to submit transcripts from a foreign country, they must first be evaluated by a foreign credentials evaluation service. After receiving the evaluated report, an official sealed copy must be submitted to the international academic counselor for review. For a list of approved foreign credentials services, please visit NACES (National Association of Credential Evaluation Services).

How do I change my program of study (major)?
If you want to change your major, you will first schedule an appointment with an international academic counselor to develop a new Educational Plan based on your new program of study. Once you get an Educational Plan from the international academic counselor, you must meet with the Designated School Official in the ISP office to request an updated I-20.

How do I make an appointment with the international academic counselor?
You can schedule an academic counseling appointment by stopping in the ISP office in person during our office hours, or by calling our office.

Can I take less than 12 units in Fall or Spring semesters?
All international F-1 visa students are required to take a minimum of 12 semester units each Fall and Spring semester. 

I am in my last semester at El Camino College, can I take less than 12 units?
If you are graduating El Camino College and/or transferring to another school and you do not need to take 12 semester units in your final semester, you must schedule an appointment with the international academic counselor to receive approval to have a reduced courseload for last semester.

How do I drop a class?
All international F-1 visa students are required to take a minimum of 12 semester units each Fall and Spring semester. If dropping a class will cause you to fall below 12 units, you must schedule an appointment to see the international academic counselor before you drop the class.

Can I take more than 18 units in Fall or Spring semesters?
Students who wish to take more than 18 units, have completed at least one semester, and have a G.P.A (Grade Point Average) in good standing can petition for approval to overload with an academic counselor.


I am traveling outside of the U.S. during the vacation break, what do I need to do?
When traveling outside of the U.S., you will need to visit the ISP office at least two weeks prior to your travel date to obtain a travel signature on your I-20. Travel signatures are valid for one year.

What do I need to do if my visa is expiring soon or has already expired?
The visa is the stamp that the U.S. consular officer placed on a page in your passport. It allows you to enter the U.S. as an F-1 student. It is only an entry document so it does not need to remain valid while you are here in the U.S. However, if you plan to travel outside of the U.S. and your visa has expired, you will need to renew your visa in your home country in order to re-enter the United States.

If my I-20 is expiring soon, what should I do?
If your I-20 will expire before you complete your program of study here at El Camino, you must submit for an extension. To do so, you will first schedule an appointment with the international academic counselor to create new Educational Plan showing how many additional semesters you will need to finish your program. Once you meet with the academic counselor, you will file a petition to extend in the ISP office. You have to extend your I-20 before it expires in order to avoid losing your F-1 status. 

Can I work on campus?
Your F-1 student status permits you to work up to 20 hours per week on the college campus that issued your I-20. If you are offered on-campus employment, you will visit the ISP office receive work permission. F-1 visa students are not allowed to work off campus and doing so could result in termination of their F-1 status.