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Immigration information for admitted students

Form I-20 and F-1 Visa

To enter the United States as an F-1 student, you will need a Columbia College I-20 form (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant F-1 Student Status), a valid F-1 visa issued by an American embassy or consulate and a current passport. Have these documents on your person when you enter the United States. If you have questions, please contact the staff at the International Center.

Documents you will need

  1. I-20: Certificate of Eligibility — The I-20 Certificate of Eligibility form will be sent to you after you have met eligibility requirements to be issued an I-20.
  2. Visa: Permit to enter the U.S. — A U.S. embassy or consulate will issue your Visa. You must have a valid visa to enter or re-enter the United States, except from Canada, Mexico and the adjacent islands (with some restrictions). So long as you remain in the United States, visa expiration does not impact your ability to travel. A visa is used to enter the United States; if you leave the United States with an expired visa, even for a short time, you must have a current visa before being allowed to re-enter the U.S.
  3. I-94: Arrival-Departure Record — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issues this document in their database when you enter the United States. The I-94 is proof of your legal entry, status and permission to stay in the United States. You may access your I-94 electronically after you enter the U.S. here: Please print off a copy of your I-94 card and keep it for your records. Double check that all information is correct.

Transferring your I-20 to Columbia College

If you previously studied at a U.S. high school or other college or university, and are transferring to Columbia College, report to the International Center staff within 10 days of the beginning of your first semester. You will need to present a current I-20 issued from the previous institution, and evidence of full-time enrollment at the other school (e.g., transcript, letter from the former International Student Advisor, etc.). Please contact the Admissions Office for further information regarding the transfer process.

Read more: receiving your I-20


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