Immigration information for current students
Maintaining legal F-1 status
You must meet certain obligations to legally stay in the U.S. Failure to maintain your non-immigrant status can result in serious consequences up to and including jail time and deportation.
To keep your F-1 status you must:
- Maintain a current passport. Your passport should always be at least 6 months valid into the future.
- Maintain a current I-20 (program extensions must be requested from the International Center staff well before the expiration date listed on the I-20 form).
- Maintain full-time enrollment during the academic year:
- EAP Program: 12 credit hours
- Undergraduate (associate’s or bachelor's degree program) Studies: 12 credit hours
- Graduate (master's degree program) Studies: 6 credit hours; 3 credit hour minimum for each 8 week session during the fall and spring semesters
- Do not enroll in too many online courses. See International Center staff if you have questions about this.
- Limit approved on-campus employment to 20 hours per week during the academic year and 40 hours on holidays or outside the year.
- Do not accept unauthorized employment, either on or off campus.
- Attend classes and maintain satisfactory grades.
- Complete all required procedures if transferring to another institution.
- Notify International Center staff of any changes to your academic program.
- Notify the International Center staff of any changes in your local U.S. address within 10 days of moving.
- Pay all tuition and fees at Columbia College.
Travel outside the U.S.
If you travel outside the United States, you must have the proper documents to return:
- A valid, F-1 visa (except if you've been to Canada, Mexico or the adjacent islands within 30 days, subject to some restrictions)
- A travel signature from an International Center staff member on the third page of your I-20. This travel signature should be no more than 6 months old when you travel.
Travel to certain countries may require additional documentation. Please contact International Center staff before traveling outside the United States.