Current Students FAQs

Updated August 2022

We review this information regularly and update as needed. 

For the most up-to-date immigration and ISSO information, follow us on our social media channels and view our news updates:

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Student FAQs

Immigration status

Columbia University has resumed in-person instruction and activities. The University expects all students to take in-person courses.

Review registration requirements for maintaining F/J status.

F-1 I-20: ISSO is issuing digital I-20s only (in PDF Format) for students and their dependents, per SEVP Guidance. Once you are emailed your I-20, you must print and sign it by hand in ink. This printed I-20 is an original and valid document

J-1 DS-2019: The Department of State administers J-1 regulations, and has not provided guidance that permits digital DS-2019 forms. ISSO will continue to ship original DS-2019 forms, signed in ink, to J-1 students and their dependents. 

Travel and Visas

Travelers to the U.S. are required to show proof of full vaccination checked by the airline pre-departure. Limited exceptions apply. The requirement to show a negative COVID-19 test was removed on June 12, 2022. Complete the Vaccine Travel Assessment to confirm you have what you need.

NAFSA maintains a helpful summary of the COVID-19 Travel and Visa Restrictions including the vaccine requirement for all air travelers eligible to enter the U.S.

We also recommend that you review the COVID-19 Resource Guide for the Columbia Community for the university’s guidance pertaining to travel.

OPT Employment (General)

Unfortunately, F-1 regulations still require you to be physically in the U.S. at the time you submit your OPT or STEM OPT Extension application to USCIS.

Post-completion OPT - If you are abroad make sure you return to the U.S in F-1 status before the end of your final semester. Refer to the OPT Application process on our website

STEM OPT Extension - You must return and apply before the expiration of your current OPT. Refer to the STEM OPT Extension application information here

US government guidance indicates that for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, students who are working on Post-Completion OPT and the STEM OPT Extension fewer than 20 hours per week are still engaging in OPT and are NOT accumulating any days of unemployment. The guidance did not specify a minimum number of hours that must be worked.

Yes, you may work remotely for a U.S. employer while on OPT and you do not need to do a second report that the employment has become remote. If you are currently engaged in the STEM OPT Extension, you don’t have to submit a new I-983 if working remotely. 

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