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What do my visa and status mean?

An entry VISA is a travel document issued by a U.S. Consulate and attached to a page in your passport that is evidence of your eligibility to be admitted to the United States in a particular status with supporting documents. After admission to a program of study, International students who require an F-1 student visa to study in the U.S. apply for a certificate of eligibility called an I-20 from the International Students and Scholars office (ISSO). The I-20 is needed to apply for the entry visa to present upon arrival. Canadian students are exempt from the visa requirement in their passports but must present an I-20 at the port of entry to be admitted in F-1 status. A visa is relevant ONLY to admission to the U.S. and has nothing to do with how long a student may stay in the U.S. after arrival. Students obtain F-1 STATUS at the time of admission (entry to the U.S.), and must maintain lawful F-1 status throughout the length of their academic program. This includes being enrolled full-time every term and NOT working without authorization.

International at Columbia


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