Getting Your Student Visa
NEW STUDENTS: With limited exceptions, all international students applying for admission to the United States need an entry visa.
Contact the nearest US embassy or consulate for details on how to obtain an F-1 or J-1 visa.
We encourage you to schedule an appointment as soon as you receive your documents from Columbia, since there could be long wait times.
CONTINUING STUDENTS: While you are allowed to stay in the US with an expired visa, you will need a new visa to re-enter the country after international travel.
You don't have to return to your home country to get a new F-1 or J-1 visa, but if you choose to do so in another country, be sure to confirm that the US embassy or consulate will accommodate requests for third-country nationals (meaning that you're applying in a country outside the US, but you aren't a citizen of that country).
NOTE: You don't need an entry visa stamp if you are a citizen of Bermuda or Canada. However, you still need an I-20 or DS-2019 with a valid travel signature to re-enter the U.S. to resume your studies at Columbia.
DOCUMENTATION: Before you apply for your visa, check with the US embassy or consulate where you plan to apply to find out exactly what supporting documentation is required, since these requirements vary. Find the nearest embassy or consulate.
If your visa application is approved, a visa stamp will be placed in your passport noting the length of validity and the name of the school on your Form I-20 or DS-2019. Make sure you get your original I-20 or DS-2019 back from the U.S. consulate.
Document Request Processing Times
In general, we recommend that you make immigration-related requests as early as you can, since Columbia doesn't have control over government processing times. The submission deadlines listed here allow for any government processing times involved in the request.
NOTE: If additional information or follow up is needed, additional time will be added to the processing time.
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