The International Center staff provides comprehensive support services to Columbia College’s international community including students, faculty, staff, and their dependents. The Center also plays a critical role in compliance for the college overseeing reporting requirements for the Department of Homeland Security.
The staff advocates for international students relating to interactions with government agencies, community organizations, and campus offices. The staff disseminates information regarding changes in U.S. immigration law to students and the campus community; advises students of their responsibilities to abide by the regulations governing their status; and assists students in achieving their academic goals and becoming an integral member of the campus community. Information is also provided to students, faculty, and staff on changes in institutional policies and processes that affect international students. A variety of programs and services are developed to enhance understanding, foster dialog and raise cultural awareness in all aspects of campus life.
Students in F-1 student status must adhere to the regulatory requirements outlined in the United States Federal Register, Part 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Students must register for and complete 12 semester hours each semester of enrollment. Failure to comply with this requirement constitutes a violation of status and can impose serious consequences.
Upon their initial arrival on campus, international students must attend International Student Orientation and check-in with the International Center. Students must complete the Immigration Check-In Form and bring the following documents: a valid passport, visa (stamp located inside the passport), and all I-20 forms (Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant Student) issued throughout the duration of their studies in the United States. These documents will be reviewed and photocopied for the student’s file. At this time, the International Center staff will register the student in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
Under SEVIS reporting requirements, the Designated School Official (DSO) must report the following information for each student no later than 30 days after the program start date:
- Full-time enrollment
- Student dropped below full-time without prior approval by the DSO
- Student failed to enroll
- Current address - defined as where the student is physically residing
- Start date of next term or semester
For students in initial status, the deadline for reporting is 30 days from the program start date on the SEVIS I-20 form. For continuing students, the deadline is 30 days from the beginning date of the term.
The DSO at the College enters data and keeps records on all international students as well as their dependents. The DSO is required to update information in SEVIS within a given time period regarding certain events related to a student or the dependent spouse/child. These reportable events include, but are not limited to:
- Change of legal name
- Change of address, both in the U.S. and abroad
- Failure to maintain status or complete the educational program
- Early completion of the program prior to the end date on SEVIS Form I-20
- Disciplinary action taken by the school against the student as a result of a conviction of a crime
- Any other notification about the student’s status
Students must report a change of name or address to the International Center within 10 days of the change. The DSO will update this information in SEVIS within 21 days.
As part of the record-keeping requirements under the F-1 regulations, the College must maintain the following information about each student:
- Date and Place of Birth
- Country of Citizenship
- Residential Address, both in the United States and abroad
- Enrollment status: Full/Part-time
- Date of Beginning of Activities
- Degree Program and Field of Study
- Practical Training Recommendations
- Termination Date and Reason
- Documents Required for Admission to Columbia College
- Credits Completed Each Term/Semester
- Photocopy of Form I-20
Curricular Practical Training
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is defined as employment which is an integral part of an established curriculum, including: “alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” Source: [8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)]. Students may participate in CPT prior to completion of a degree program. CPT employment may not delay completion of the academic program.
To be eligible for CPT, students must meet the following criteria:
- Full-time enrollment for one academic year prior to requesting CPT authorization
- Maintain lawful F-1 status
- Have a job offer
- Be enrolled in COLL 107 or internship credit during the CPT experience
Part-time CPT: Employment for 20 hours or less per week is considered part-time. Though there is no limitation upon the length of time for participation in part-time CPT, students must be simultaneously enrolled in classes full-time in order to maintain lawful F-1 status.
Full-time CPT: Employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time. Please be aware that 12 months or more of full-time CPT will invalidate eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT). During the academic year (fall and spring semesters), students must be simultaneously enrolled full-time in order to maintain lawful F-1 status.
CPT is processed and authorized semester by semester. Contact the International Center, Missouri Hall 232, for specific guidelines regarding CPT requests or to receive a copy of the college’s CPT policy.
Optional Practical Training
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is defined in the Federal Regulations as temporary employment directly related to a student’s field of study. During OPT, a student remains in F-1 status. The end result of the OPT request process is an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS).
To be eligible for OPT, students must meet the following criteria:
- Full-time enrollment for one academic year prior to requesting OPT authorization
- Maintain lawful F-1 status
The standard period of OPT eligibility is a maximum of 12 months. Students may apply for part-time OPT prior to the program completion date. Part-time OPT is deducted from the 12-month limit at 50 percent. Students in F-1 status may become eligible for an additional 12 months of OPT by completing a program at a higher educational level.
Contact the International Center, Missouri Hall 232, for specific guidelines regarding OPT applications or to request a copy of the college’s OPT policy.
Columbia College encourages students to explore opportunities to study outside the United States. Students are afforded the opportunity to earn credit while experiencing the world up close, building cultural awareness and enhancing language skills. The College is a member of the Missouri Study Abroad Intercollegiate Consortium (MOSAIC), the Central College (IA) study abroad consortium and Webster University’s (WINS) network.
The College has exchange partnerships with Canterbury Christ Church University in England; Jeju National University, Kongju National University, Konkuk University and Soonchunhyang University in South Korea; Rangsit University in Thailand; Robert Gordon University in Scotland; and the University of Shiga Prefecture in Japan.
Columbia College students participating in an exchange program must enroll in the ABRD 144 course. Students pay tuition to Columbia College and retain institutional scholarships up to the cost of tuition. Room and board fees are paid to the host institution. Students are responsible for travel costs and incidental expenses related to their study abroad experience.
Students who enroll in study abroad courses at an exchange partner institution can choose to receive a pass/fail letter grade instead of a standard letter grade at time of registration. These students can enroll in multiple non-major specific courses as pass/fail per session or semester, while still being eligible for the Dean’s List. Major courses must be taken for a standard letter grade. For more pass/fail information, please visit the Grading and Academic Standing page.
The College offers a study tour to a different country or region of the world each year. These tours typically take place at the end of the spring semester. Trips last 9-14 days, and students may earn up to six credits of coursework.
Students may participate in study abroad programs offered by other institutions or providers. Any student participating in a study abroad program must submit a Study Abroad Application to the Study Abroad office.
To help defray costs to study abroad, students may apply for financial aid through the Columbia College Registration and Financial Services Office. Federal financial aid, such as the Pell Grant or student loans, can be used to help finance the study abroad experience. Students may also apply for the Columbia College Study Abroad Scholarship.
For questions and more information, please contact Dr. Brian Kessel, Study Abroad Advisor. He counsels students about the availability, value and academic appropriateness of study abroad programs.
International Student Admissions
Columbia College is welcoming of international students and encourages applications from non-citizens. An international student is categorized as a foreign-born person who is not a citizen, national, or permanent resident of the United States, nor individuals who have been granted asylum or refugee status. Applicants who have applied for residency or citizenship must provide all application materials necessary to be considered for international admission until residency or citizenship has been granted. The College does not extend admission to undocumented persons (students who are currently granted classification as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are exceptions).
International students seeking a SEVIS I-20 Form from the College for an F-1 visa are eligible for undergraduate admission through the Day Campus, Elgin Campus, Denver Campus, or Salt Lake Campus only. International students who are accepted for admission will receive a housing contract and I-20, if applicable. International students not seeking an I-20 from the College may apply for admission to any venue so long as the current visa status of the applicant allows for academic study while in the United States. Persons in F-2 status may apply for admission to the College and engage in study as long as they are enrolled in less than a full course of study. There are several other visa types that are eligible for full-time study at the College. International applicants should contact the Admissions Office for enrollment eligibility information.
The College reserves the right to deny admission to any applicant and to deny and/or rescind admission to any applicant who provides false or misleading information to the College.
New International Freshmen
International applicants are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Applicants must complete a full sequence of university-preparatory studies that would qualify for admission to post-secondary studies in their home country. In general, students who present a minimum 2.5 cumulative grade point average from university preparatory studies are considered for admission. This requirement is equivalent to the twelve-year program of elementary, middle, and high school in the United States.
International Transfer Students
Columbia College welcomes international students with academic credit from other institutions. In general, students who present a minimum 2.0 cumulative grade point average from previous university-level coursework are considered for admission. University-level coursework completed at appropriate international institutions will be considered for transfer credit on a course-by-course basis. Academic performance at international institutions will be converted to a 4.0 scale for U.S. equivalency. If a transfer student does not present a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0, the student may be considered for admission through the Admissions Review Committee process.
International Student Application Process
International applicants must provide complete application materials as outlined below. All documents must be received by the College no later than four weeks from the start of the fall semester and no later than five weeks from the start of the spring semester respectively. To be considered for admission to the College, an international student must:
Submit the application for admission.
- Request official, original secondary school records in the native language and an official English translation to be sent directly to the Office of the Registrar. The College evaluates advanced secondary school education from other countries, such as the British Advanced Level Examinations, the French Baccalaureate, the German Abitur, and the Canadian CEGEPs. Students who successfully have completed advanced secondary school education may receive advanced standing or transfer credit at the College. Such credit is evaluated on a course-by-course basis. Students may be asked to submit course descriptions and/or course syllabi for evaluation purposes.
- Request official, original transcripts (in the native language) from each college/university attended and an official English translation to be sent directly to the Office of the Registrar.
- Demonstrate evidence of English language proficiency.
Additional documents must be provided in order to issue an I-20 to Columbia College (at the approved locations) as part of the enrollment process. International students must:
- Submit the SEVIS Supplement form.
- Submit official bank documents to provide evidence of adequate financial support (in U.S. dollars) for one year of study at the College.
- Complete a Transfer Recommendation Form and furnish a copy of a valid passport, visa, I-94, and I-20 from the last school attended if transferring to the College from an institution in the U.S.
English Proficiency Requirements
All applicants whose native language is not English (regardless of citizenship) must provide proof of English proficiency. Appropriate scores from the following exams demonstrate English language proficiency:
Admission with English Language Support**
(Day EAP Program of Columbia Campus Only)
TOEFL-iBT (internet-based test)
Score of 54 or higher (with no subset score lower than 10)
Score of 72 or higher (with no subset score lower than 16)
TOEFL-PBT (paper-based test)
Score of 480 or higher (with no subset score lower than 46)
Score of 530 or higher (with no subset score lower than 53)
Score of 5 or higher (with no individual band score lower than 4)
Score of 6.0 or higher (with no individual band score lower than 5.5)
Critical Reading subset score of 380
Critical Reading subset score of 430 or above
Subset score of 15 in English
Subset score of 17 or above in English
*Submitted results cannot be older than two years prior to the desired enrollment date.
**If admitted to the Day program under the requirements for additional English Language Support, students will take one or two semesters of courses in our English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program. Upon successfully completing this program, students will have no other requirements or conditions for continued study.
Columbia College will also consider the following evidence of English language proficiency for applicants:
• A grade of C or higher from an English composition course completed at a regionally-accredited U.S. institution and deemed equivalent by the Office of the Registrar to the Columbia College ENGL 111 course.
• Successful completion of Level 9 at The Language Company. For admission with English Language Support, successful completion of Level 4 or higher at The Language Company.
Serving as an active duty, reserve or National Guard military member in any branch of the US armed forces (Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force, Army or Navy). Veterans who have served honorably on active duty in the armed forces are also included in this provision.
Applicants from the following countries are required to submit SAT/ACT scores in lieu of English proficiency: Australia, Canada (English speaking provinces), Ireland, Malta, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
Please note that credentials are reviewed carefully to confirm that applicants have the requisite English language proficiency to succeed academically at Columbia College. Therefore, the Admissions Office reserves the right to require additional documentation to verify English language proficiency.
The College reserves the right to deny admission to any applicant and to deny and/or rescind admission to any applicant who provides false or misleading information to the College.
Transcripts and Credentials
Applicants must inform the College of all institutions of higher learning attended and whether or not academic credit was earned at these institutions. Falsification of application information, including failure to identify all post-secondary institutions attended, may result in denial of admission or dismissal if discovered after enrollment.
An official transcript and official English language translation from each college and university attended must be submitted to the College before transfer of credit can be accomplished. An official transcript is marked as such and sent directly from the institution attended to the Columbia College Office of the Registrar. A transcript marked official and hand delivered in a sealed envelope of the institution by the applicant will be accepted as official. Transcripts marked unofficial or student copy will not be considered official even if delivered in a sealed institution envelope. Faxed transcripts are not considered official. Credit will not be evaluated nor considered acceptable for admission for one institution from another institution’s transcript. Only grades of ‘C’ or higher are accepted in transfer. The following is a list of examinations and test scores that must be submitted for an official evaluation: CLEP, DANTES (DSST), AP and IB.
Appeals may be made for an exception to having all transcripts/credit documents submitted prior to an evaluation. An appeal must include a statement of why the transcript/credit document is unavailable and/or why the applicant wishes to proceed without it for the initial evaluation. A waiver/disclaimer statement must also be signed by the applicant indicating that he understands that he is responsible for any consequences incurred due to the late receipt of all documents. Areas of consequence include, but are not limited to, enrollment for a subsequent term, advising and academic level.
Appeals will not be approved nor exceptions made for the following reasons:
- Applicant owes money at another institution and is therefore unable to procure an official transcript;
- Poor grades at the previous institution and therefore courses may not be transferable to Columbia College;
- Applicant does not believe that previous coursework is applicable to Columbia College;
- Applicant does not want to pay transcript fees.
Applicants who are unable to obtain transcripts because the previous institution has closed, had a fire or other records catastrophe may include a letter from the institution or the Department of Education for the state or the Ministry of Education where the school is located indicating that the transcript is not available. If the letter is provided along with the application and other transfer documents, then an appeal is not necessary and there will be no delay in the evaluation process.
Applicants may also submit a letter of appeal if a previous institution attended is not currently nor has ever been accredited by one of the accrediting bodies recognized by Columbia College.
International bachelor’s degrees awarded by institutions that are chartered and recognized by their centralized government educational body, or their national ministry of education, will be accepted as meeting the qualifications for a general education waiver if these criteria are met:
- 33 hours of general education course work (as defined by Columbia College)
- Of the 33 hours, representation in these areas must be met:
- Humanities general education course(s)
- Social and behavioral sciences general education course(s)
- Mathematics/science general education course(s)
- ENGL 111 and ENGL 112 must be completed at Columbia College
- Requests to allow domestic transfer of ENGL 111 and/or ENGL 112 must be submitted in writing via the Course Waiver/Substitution/Appeal Form, found on The Office of the Registrar Forms web page.
International students must meet all of the above criteria in order to be eligible for a general education waiver. Once the criteria are met, a request for evaluation must be submitted by your advisor to the Office of the Registrar.
Once a document has been submitted it becomes the property of Columbia College. Neither the original nor a copy will be given to the applicant.
Main Campus Day Only
Enrollment in Online Courses
International Main Campus Day students who are approved to enroll in online courses may only count one course, three semester hours, per semester toward the total required to maintain a full course of study. Other courses must be traditional and in-seat. Note: Students are not limited to take only one online course; however, only one online course counts toward maintaining a full course of study. Student enrollments will be checked each semester for compliance. For example, an undergraduate student taking nine semester hours of in-seat course work and three semester hours through online has met the full course of study requirement while a student taking six hours of in-seat course work and six hours of online courses has not. Please refer to the Registration Processes section for academic eligibility requirements to enroll in online coursework.
In order to maintain F-1 status and ensure compliance with U.S. immigration law, it is very important that students communicate with the International Center staff throughout the duration of their program at the College.
To ensure that non-immigrant students are able to cover any medical expenses in the U.S., it is required that all international students purchase the insurance plan provided through the College. Students in F-1 status will be charged for this insurance on their Columbia College student account upon enrollment for any number of credit hours. Students pursuing Optional Practical Training will be given the opportunity to continue insurance coverage. Payments will be divided in two segments and are due at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters. For questions and details about the mandatory insurance program, please contact the International Center staff.
Withdrawing From Classes
If an emergency develops and an international student must withdraw from the College prior to completing the program, the International Center must update SEVIS to indicate that the student has been authorized for early withdrawal. Once the SEVIS record is updated to reflect the withdrawal authorization, the student has a “grace period” of 15 days within which to depart the United States. Without DSO approval for early withdrawal, the student has no grace period and must depart immediately. For more information on the Total Withdrawal process, please see the section of the catalog Grading and Academic Standing and click on Withdrawal.
English for Academic Purposes Program
The Columbia College English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program is an academic unit of the Language and Communication Studies Department. It is offered only through the Day Campus. Prospective students must meet the English Proficiency Requirements set by the College in order to qualify for admission. Details on the EAP program can be found under Language and Communication Studies programs on the English for Academic Purposes (Day) page.