Information for Admitted International Students

Immigration Information

After being admitted to Columbia College, international students will need to go through additional immigration process in order to start your education journey.

The I-20 Certificate of Eligibility form will be sent to you by Columbia College after you have met eligibility requirements to be issued an I-20.

Once inside the U.S., this form is proof of your legal status.

To receive your I-20, provide the college an official original bank statement demonstrating your ability to pay the total cost of attendance for one academic year. Make sure financial statements are current or within six months of the start of the semester. If you have received a Columbia College scholarship, your total cost of attendance may be reduced by the awarded scholarship amount.

If you will not be funding your studies with personal funds, work with your financial sponsor to complete the Affidavit of Support.

In addition to the bank statement, new freshmen should provide a copy of their passport and the SEVIS Supplement form. Transfer students should provide a copy of their passport, visa, I-94, current I-20, SEVIS form and Transfer Authorization. 

Additional forms may be required. Your recruiters will communicate directly with you.

The next step is obtaining a visa.

Transferring Your I-20 to Columbia College

If you previously studied at a U.S. high school or other college and are transferring to Columbia College, report to International Student Services 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. This could be in the form of a transcript or letter from your former advisor.

The Transfer Authorization Form should be completed and mailed by students transferring to Columbia College from an institution in the U.S. Please check myPortal for a list of International Student Services Forms.

You will use your I-20 form to apply for an F-1 student visa at an U.S. embassy or consulate in your country. You must have a valid visa to enter or re-enter the United States.

Before your visa interview, complete the application and required forms, and take steps to prepare for the process.

Schedule The Visa Interview:

  • Complete the visa application form DS-160.
  • Have a photograph taken following the photo requirements and attach it to the DS-160 form.
  • Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee
    • Have on hand your SEVIS number printed on the upper right-hand corner of the I-20 form and the Columbia College school code:
      • Columbia, MO: KAN214F00119000
      • Elgin, IL: KAN214F00119001
      • Denver, CO: DEN214F00489000
  • Print the receipt to provide when you attend your interview.
  • Schedule a visa interview appointment at a U.S. Consulate.

Prepare for the visa interview

  • Contact an EducationUSA Advising Office regarding the interview for helpful hints and resources.
  • Carefully review the U.S. Department of State Visa preparation section.
  • Be prepared to answer questions about why you chose Columbia College.
  • Review the program information for your major or discipline.
  • Know some facts about the city of Columbia, Elgin or Denver and why it is such an attractive place to live and go to school.
    • Review Columbia College history and facts.
    • Be sure to show non-immigrant intent and ties to your home country.
    • Double check with the embassy that you are interviewing at to see if any extra documentation is needed.

The Day Before The Interview

Gather the following documents to take with you to your visa interview appointment:

  • Passport (valid for at least 6 months from the date of interview)
  • I-20 form
  • Receipt for the paid SEVIS fee
  • Visa application fee receipt
  • Interview appointment letter
  • Application forms (DS-156,DS-157,DS-158)
  • Supporting bank/financial documents
  • Degrees, diplomas, certificates and/or transcripts
  • English proficiency test scores, if available (TOEFL, IELTS)
  • Admission test scores if available (SAT, ATC, GRE, GMAT)
  • Photograph

The Day of The Interview

  • Collect all the materials you gathered the day before the interview.
  • Arrive to the interview early to ensure you arrive on time.
  • Follow the instructions provided at the consulate.
  • Sit for your interview.
  • Let your admissions counselor know how your interview went.

After Receiving A Visa

  • Visit an EducationUSA office for additional assistance and travel preparation.
  • Connect with your Admissions Counselor.
  • Columbia College will pick you up from Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (airport code STL) or from Columbia Regional Airport (airport code COU).
    Pick-ups require arriving on selected days and coordinating arrival information with the International Center.
  • Be sure to schedule your flight with enough time to arrive by the beginning International Student Orientation.
  • Submit your travel itinerary to International Student Services, including:
    • Arrival Airport
    • Airline
    • Final arriving flight number
    • Date and time of arrival
    • Phone number during travel

    Label the subject/title of your e-mail with your full name and "New Student Arrival".

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. Print off a copy of your I-94 card and keep it for your records.

As an international student it is your responsibility to ensure you maintain your legal F-1 status. Maintaining status is necessary in order to receive the benefits of F-1 status such as employment and program extension, and can be crucial to a successful application for a change or adjustment of visa status in the future. Failure to maintain your non-immigrant status can result in serious problems with immigration and could lead to deportation from the U.S.

To maintain lawful F-1 student status you must:

  • Attend mandatory check-in at Columbia College International Student Services.
  • 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 International Student Services 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
    • Only three online credits may be counted toward your full-time enrollment
    • Suspension, dismissal, expulsion, or any other similar action which prevents enrollment may have effect on legal immigration status. See an advisor at the International Center.
    • Do not accept unauthorized employment, either on or off campus.
  • Be in good academic standing and make progress toward an academic program.
  • Complete all required procedures if transferring to another institution.
  • Notify International Student Services staff of any changes to your academic program.
  • Notify International Student Services staff of any changes in your local U.S. address within 10 days of moving.
  • Maintain health insurance coverage.


As an international student, you may travel within the U.S. at any time. You may leave the U.S. at any time, but must have all necessary documents with you to re-enter. Please check with the relevant embassy to determine entry requirements for any country you are planning to visit during your travels.

Necessary documents for international travel and re-entry to the U.S. include:

  • A passport, valid for at least six months beyond date of re-entry.
  • A valid U.S. F-1 visa.
  • Current I-20 signed for travel. This includes a travel signature from an International Student Services staff member on the third page of your I-20. This travel signature should be no more than 6 months old when you travel.

Visa Renewal

The visa in your passport may expire while you are in the U.S., but it must be valid when you re-enter the United States. To renew your visa, you will need to submit the appropriate documents at a U.S. embassy/consulate. For additional information about your specific visa type, see the Department of State website.

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