and Document Overview for Students in F-1 Status
Your Legal Obligations
It is essential to
remember that you must take full responsibility for maintaining your status
with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). That is, you are responsible
for finding out, knowing, and following pertinent regulations.
If you take time early
on to familiarize yourself with your obligations to the Department of
Homeland Security, you should find it easy to maintain your legal status.
If, however, you allow yourself to fall "out of status", it
may be extraordinarily difficult to be reinstated to legal F-1 status.
The best resources
to assist you in maintaining your status are this Web site, Coming
to Columbia online, and the staff of the ISSO, at 524 Riverside Drive
or the International Affairs Office at the Medical Center, Room 1 126B Black Bldg., 650
West 168th Street. Every effort has been made to provide reliable and
accurate information on rules that govern student immigration classifications.
When regulations change - as is frequently the case - the ISSO and the
IAO will have current information. Feel free to come in and ask questions
Note that there are
two offices that handle the immigration documents for Columbia University
students. You can determine which office to contact by looking at your
Form I-20. The name and address of the appropriate office is on your form.
As your visa sponsor, Columbia University has legal obligations which
are met by the ISSO or IAO. International students in F-1 status are in
SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System), a national database
through which student immigration documents created and student records
maintained. Among other things, these offices are required to make regular
reports on students' enrollment status, completion of program, employment
recommendations, and failure to maintain status.
A Few Words of Advice for Students
- Familiarize yourself
with "Student Immigration Definitions" before reading anything else.
- Although most requests
for documentation submitted to the ISSO or IAO usually are done on the
spot while you wait, it is prudent to allow at least five business days
- Bring with you
your passport and all relevant immigration documents - including your
I-20 and any previous I-20's - when you come to the ISSO or IAO for
immigration information or document processing.
- Carry financial documentation when you travel.
- If you are the
least bit uncertain about your status - for example, whether your program
will be full-time, whether your permission to stay is valid, or whether
you can be paid for an assistantship - check with the ISSO or the IAO
immediately. Students who do not meet the full-time or normal progress
requirements may have problems restoring their status. Therefore, if
you believe your circumstances warrant extraordinary consideration,
it is extremely important that you consult with the ISSO or IAO before
registering for your program. We are here to help you and advise you.
Last Reviewed: 21 February 2011 Last modified: 21 February 2011
Columbia University International Students and Scholars Office