Student Immigration Definitions

Obtaining F-1 Student Status at Columbia

Important Information for Students Fully Funded
by Columbia University

Transfer of F-1 Supervision

Change of Status to F-1

Message for Canadian Students

Potential Delays in Visa Issuance


Student Tax Information

Maintaining F-1 Status

Academic Certification for Travel

F-1 Travel Information

Govt Q & A for F-1 Travel

DHS Information on Arrival Problems

F-1 Extension of Stay (Current Program)

F-1 Extension of Stay to Begin New Program

F-1 Reinstatement

F-1 Work Opportunities

F-1 Practical Training (PT) Overview

F-1 Curricular Practical Training

F-1 Optional PT Before Degree Completion

F-1 Optional PT After Degree Completion

NEW STEM 24-month OPT extension

F-1 Internship with an International Organization

F-1 Leave of Absence, Suspension or Withdrawal

Student Departure Information

F-1 Reduced Course Load Request

Inviting Relatives/Friends to Visit You

Address Change Form

Applying for a Social Security Number

F-1 Extension to Begin a New Program

If you are moving from one program at Columbia to another, you must obtain a new I-20 and have your SEVIS record updated. By processing a new I-20, the Department of Homeland Security is notified of a student's new program of study and an extension of the time permitted to stay in the U.S., as required. Note that failure to complete the procedure in a timely manner is considered a violation of F-1 student status, necessitating an application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for reinstatement.

You must obtain an extension and new I-20 when you move from:

  • a degree program to a joint degree program
  • a bachelor's degree program to a master's degree program
  • a master's degree program to a doctoral degree program
  • a language program (ALP) to an academic program at Columbia
  • special student status to any degree program
  • any degree program to special student status
  • a bachelor's degree program to another bachelor's degree program
  • a completed master's degree program to another master's degree or a professional degree program
The above are some of the typical (but not the only) situations in which a new I-20 and extension is necessary. If you have any questions about whether or not you need to obtain an extension of stay, you should consult an adviser at the ISSO.

Eligibility: In order to be eligible for the extension procedure, you must meet both of the following criteria:

  1. you must currently be in lawful F-1 status under the visa supervision of Columbia University
  2. you must have been admitted to a new full-time program of study at Columbia

Deadline: The new I-20 can be issued any time after admission to the new program, but not later than 60 days following the completion of the current program. For example, if you are completing a bachelor's degree on May 17, you must have a new I-20 issued for an master's degree by July 16th. If not, your SEVIS record will automatically be completed and inactivated after the 60th day. You may apply for the new I-20 when you receive your official offer of admission to the new program.

How to Apply: Submit the required documents listed below as a single PDF file attached to an email to isso@columbia.edu.

Email Instructions: Scan your documents into ONE file in PDF format only. Submissions in any other format will not be accepted and reviewed. Do not send individual files (I-94 arrival record as one file, faculty advisor letter as another file, etc.). Do not take photos with your phone and send .jpg or .tiff files. Do not email a link to Dropbox, Google Drive or any other cloud site. You will receive an automated reply from the ISSO confirming that your email was received. Put your legal name, UNI and New Program in the subject line. Example: Joe Boxer jb1234 New Program
A complete application includes the following documents:

  • A copy of your admission letter to the new program of study
  • Financial documentation such as a bank statement or scholarship letter which shows that you have adequate resources to meet the tuition, fees, and living expenses for at least the first year of your new program of study. Tuition, fee and living expense estimates by school and program for I-20 issuance are at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/isso/Rates/
  • Your most recent I-94 arrival record printed from the CBP I-94 web site.

The International Students and Scholars Office will:

  1. Review your application for eligibility
  2. Prepare a new I-20 extending your completion date and update your SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) record within 10 business days.
  3. Email you when your I-20 is ready to be picked up at the ISSO.

This will put you in "initial" status for the new program; your SEVIS record will need to be made active some time between the completion of the current program and the beginning of the new program. The timing of this may depend on whether you will be on Optional Practical Training or traveling abroad in the intervening time— the ISSO adviser will discuss this with you.

Special Considerations: If you are planning to pursue another program at a school other than Columbia University, you must follow procedures for Transfer of F-1 Supervision.

Last Reviewed: 4 June 2015 Last modified: 4 June 2015
Columbia University International Students and Scholars Office