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All students who attend Columbia College Chicago through the use of an "I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status - For Academic and Language Students" must understand and comply with the following requirements:

Consult the International Student Advisor (ISA) before accepting any form of employment. Authorization from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is always required, and it is important to adhere to all employment regulations. Unauthorized employment carries severe penalties and can endanger future plans.

Maintain a passport that is kept valid at all times. If your passport expires, you are out of status.

Attend school. Attending school means that you must go to the school listed on your current I-20 Form. You are in valid F-1 status if you are both attending Columbia College Chicago and your most recent I-20 Form was issued by Columbia College Chicago and was processed by USCIS. Check with the ISA to make sure USCIS has processed your I-20 Form properly.

Carry a full course of study. A full course of study means enrolling in and completing 12 credits each semester for undergraduate students, or 9 credits each semester for graduate students. Maintaining a full course of study also means that you must meet all class attendance policies established by Columbia College Chicago and meet minimum grade requirements as outlined in The Informer, the Columbia College Chicago Student Handbook.

All changes to your full course of study must be pre-approved by your ISA. Current USCIS regulations (effective January 1, 2003) mandate that any reductions in a full course of study, not previously approved by the ISA before they are made, constitute a violation of status, even if such a drop would be otherwise permissible.

Complete your studies and leave the United States by the completion date on your I-20 Form OR contact the ISA to determine if you qualify for a program extension. It is your responsibility to request an extension I-20 Form.

Notify the ISA of any changes in your educational level BEFORE YOU MAKE ANY CHANGES. If you complete a bachelor's degree and start a second bachelor's degree, OR complete a bachelor's degree and start a master's degree, there are specific procedures that you must follow. Your ISA can help you with the process. Also, notify the ISA of any changes in your major BEFORE you make them. Effective January 1, 2003, it is illegal for you to change your level or change your major without prior approval from your ISA.

Contact the ISA to discuss on-campus employment opportunities. Do not begin working on-campus without authorization from the ISA.

Have your I-20 Form signed by the ISA before traveling out of the United States. This requirement includes all contiguous territories (i.e. Mexico, Canada, Bahamas, Lesser Antilles, etc.)

Notify the ISA of any plans you have to transfer to another educational institution. You should advise the ISA of your plans to transfer as early as possible.

Recognize that you only have a limited amount of time to depart the United States or change to another USCIS status once you are no longer attending school.


If you complete a program, you have 60 days to depart the U.S.


If you drop out of school before completing a program, with prior ISA approval, you have 15 days to depart the U.S.


If you drop out of school before completing a program, without ISA approval, you have 0 (zero) days to depart the U.S. and immediately and automatically become an illegal alien.

Follow all USCIS procedures for reinstatement F-1 status. In the event that you violate your status, please consult the ISA regarding the specific procedures for either restarting your F-1 status or applying for reinstatement. You must apply for reinstatement within five months of having committed a violation. Violations in excess of five months cannot be cured through reinstatement.

Follow all USCIS procedures regarding applying for all forms of practical training. Contact the ISA to determine your eligibility for internships. Also, contact the ISA 90 days prior to graduation to determine your eligibility for post completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). Remember that effective January 1, 2003, you must apply for OPT BEFORE your graduation date.

Report all changes of address to your ISA within ten days of having moved.

Limit registration of online courses to one 3-credit online course per semester (if you are only registered for 12 credits). Discuss your plans for online courses with your ISA. You must obtain ISA approval before registering for online courses.

Carry health insurance at all times as required by Columbia College Chicago. See The Informer, The Columbia College Chicago Student Handbook.

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