International Student Affairs

The Office of International Student Affairs' (OISA) mission is to provide a nurturing and supportive living and learning environment for Columbia College Chicago's international student sommunity through advocacy, services, programming, and advising.

The OISA offers new international student "welcome and information" sessions; the "College Smart" workshop series; workshops covering International Revenue (IRS) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) laws and regulations, overseas travel, on- and off-campus employment, and maintaining F-1 and J-1 immigration status; sponsors academic and co-curricular activities and college-wide programs; coordinates campus and community services by liaising with other colleges and universities. sponsoring agencies, foreign governments, and local consular offices; supports international recruitment efforts and administers the college's International Student Accident and Sickness Insurance Program.

The office advises the International Student Organization (ISO), supports the International Student Task Force, and sponsors:  The International Student Welcome Program “ISWP”" (August and January), International Grad student “Meet & Greets” (September and February), The “Beyond Columbia Borders” Thanksgiving Host Program (November), International Education Week (November), "World Enigma" (March), International Student Organization Weekly Meetings, and Graduating International Student Receptions (December and May.)

Gigi Posejpal
Director of International Student Affairs
Multicultural Affairs | 618 S. Michigan Ave., 4th floor

Kevin Obomanu
Coordinator of International Student Affairs
Multicultural Affairs | 618 S. Michigan Ave., 4th floor

Address Update Form
International Student Organization

Meet the World from By HyeongSeon Lee '10, South Korea on Vimeo.

We are a family made up of international students from around the world who are determined to help each other fully embrace our college experience and promote cultural exchange on campus.

The ISO meets for students to voice their needs and problems as well as to organize fun and exciting events. We seek to improve conditions for international students and contribute to the entire college community through our events.

This organization opens its doors to everyone regardless of ethnicity, academic background, and fields of interest. It's a chance to be yourself, find new inspiration, and promote your own culture as well as others. The ISO welcomes all Columbia College students and invites everyone interested in learning about other cultures, far away lands and making friends from all over the world!

The ISO E-Board consists of a President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and an editor-in chief for The Columbia Passport (formerly known as The Foreign and The International Spotlight Newsletter).

Whether you are from Korea, China, Switzerland, Japan or even the USA, everyone is welcome to the ISO! The ISO meets every Friday at 5:30 p.m. in 618 S Michigan Ave, 4th Floor. You can also contact them on Twitter and Facebook.

The ISO sponsors events such as:

  • Foreign film festivals
  • International Education Week
  • World Enigma
  • Holiday celebrations
  • Field trips
  • Social gatherings

We also collaborate with the Office of International Student Affairs and the Office of International Programs in creating and supporting programs and workshops aimed at enriching the international student experience at College as well as that of all Columbia College students.

Come and explore all the worlds of Columbia!

Insurance Information

Plan Highlights: 

Up to $500,000 of coverage per condition

  • $0 Deductible per policy year
  • No exclusion for pre-existing conditions
  • $0 Deductible per policy year
  • CIGNA PPO Network - 100% In Network; 80% Out-of-Network
  • Co-Payments- $15
  • Physician, mental health; substance abuse, chiropractic; physical therapy, acupuncture; and occupational therapy visits
  • Annual Out of Pocket Maximum - $2,000
  • Preventative Care Services under the Affordable Care Act- 100% in network after co-pay
  • Prescription Drug Benefit through Express Scripts - reimbursed up to 50% - no annual limit per policy year
  • Ambulance Services
  • Careington Dental and Vision Benefit - provides a discount network for dental and vision services. (Separate membership cards will be provided)

In addition, the insurance will also include:

  • Mental Health Counseling - A toll free number available 24/7 to assist students for any reason, whether school related, family issues, or adjusting to a new environment, the LewerMark Student Assist Program will be available through a network of trained counselors ready to assist.
  • Legal Assistance - Students sometimes need advice when it comes to immigration, U.S. laws, liability, or any reason a qualified attorney could provide assistance. The LewerMark Student Assist Program will provide a free 30 minute consultation to students to assist with needs for professional legal advice. Referrals are available for additional fee based services as needed.
  • Concierge Service - How many times has a student arrived looking for housing, or possibly finding a local grocer with food from their home country? The LewerMark Student Assist program is available 24/7 to help students find resources for their day to day needs.

Plan Costs and Dates

  • Fall Semester:  Aug. 25, 2015 – January 24, 2016:  $538.11
  • Spring Semester: January 25, 2016 - May 22, 2016: $418.53
  • Summer Semester:  May 23, 2016 – August 24, 2016: $330.60

When and How to Pay

  • Payment for the Fall 2015 semester is due by Friday, September 11, 2015
  • Payment for the Spring 2016 is due by Friday, January 29, 2016
  • Payment for the Summer 2016 is due by Friday, May 27, 2016

There are two ways to make your insurance payment.

In person, Bring a check or money order made payable to "Columbia College Chicago" to the Cashier’s Window located on the 3rd floor of the 600 S. Michigan Ave building. Be sure to write your OASIS number on the check, and indicate that it is a payment for "International Student Health Insurance." Keep the receipt for your records.

Online, visit the Student Financial Services website for payment information. Insurance payments made by credit card can only be paid through CCCPay. Credit card use on CCCPay is limited to MasterCard, Discover and American Express.

Petition for a Waiver

If you do not want to be enrolled in the health insurance plan, you must apply for an insurance waiver.  There is no application, but you must provide the following information.  Please note that an application for an insurance waiver is not automatically approved.  You will be notified by email if your waiver has been approved or denied.                                                                       

  • Provide an “Explanation of Benefits” of your insurance coverage.  This must include
    • Dates of coverage
    • Benefits provided
  • Policy and “Explanation of Benefits” must be in English.
  • The waiver petition and supporting information must be submitted to the Office of International Student Affairs by the deadline indicated below!

Waivers must be approved to avoid being charged for the insurance. 

Waiver deadlines:

  • Fall 2015 Semester: Saturday, September 5, 2015
  • Spring 2016 Semester: Saturday, January 23, 2016
  • Summer 2016 Semester: Saturday, May 21, 2016


Illinois Temporary Visitor Driver's License (TVDL)
  • If you do not have a U.S. Social Security Number, you may qualify for a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TVDL).  To apply for an Illinois TVDL, you must be:
    • A non-U.S. citizen who has been granted temporary and legal entry to the U.S.;
    • Temporarily residing in Illinois;
    • Ineligible for a Social Security number:  You need to get a letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) Office stating that you are not eligible to have a Social Security Number.  This letter must be dated within 90 days of the date of your application for a TVDL, and can be obtained from any SSA office.
  • A qualified application must be authorized to be in the country for at least one year, and have at least six months remaining on an authorized stay.
  • A TVDL is valid for three years or for the period of time the applicant is authorized to stay in this country; whichever comes first.
  • There are only two Chicago area Driver Services Offices authorized to issue Temporary Visitor Driver's Licenses: Chicago West Facility (5301 W. Lexington Street, Chicago, IL 60644) and Chicago North Facility (5401 N. Elston Avenue, Chicago, IL 60630). Applicants must visit one of the two facilities in person during the business hours; appointments are not accepted.  Please check online for their current business hours. 
  • Applicants are required to present four forms of identification (see above) as well as proof of your current immigration status, such as your I-94 card, I-20 Form or DS-2019 Form, and a letter from SSA office evidencing your ineligibility for a Social Security number.

Temporary Visitor Driver's License

The Secretary of State's office issues a Temporary Visitor Driver's License (TVDL) for non-citizens of the United States who have been granted temporary, legal entry into this country and are temporarily residing in the State of Illinois and ineligible for a Social Security number. To be eligible for a TVDL, a foreign national must:

  • Be a non-citizen of the United States residing in the State of Illinois;
  • Be authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to be present in this country, and provide documentation verifying such authorization;
  • Not be required to obtain a driver's license issued by the U.S. Department of State, Office of Foreign Missions;
  • Be authorized to be in the country for at least one year and have at least six months remaining on an authorized stay;
  • Provide acceptable documentation that proves name, date of birth, Illinois residency and verification of written signature;
  • Effective July 1, 2014 or after, a person age 18-20 must present proof of successful completion of a 6-hour adult driver education and training course.
  • Pay the appropriate fee and successfully complete a vision screening and the appropriate written and road tests.
  • A TVDL will be issued only in a Class D, L, M, DL or DM, authorizing operation of a personal car, motorcycle or motor-driven cycle. A TVDL is valid for three years or for the period of time the individual is authorized to stay in this country, whichever ends sooner.
  • Individuals eligible for a TVDL may obtain an instruction permit allowing them to practice driving before taking their road exam. To obtain an instruction permit, the applicant must visit one of the designated Driver Services facilities and meet the requirements for obtaining a license for the first time.
Buddy Program

The 2015 buddies of the Buddy Program

Coming to a new place and to a new culture is an exciting experience, but it can be a little overwhelming as well.  The International Student Buddy Program, for short the Buddy Program, is a program designed to support new incoming international students during their first semester at Columbia College Chicago. The program matches new international students with current Columbia College students to help the new student identify with social, cultural and academic pathways and expectations as a Columbia College student living in the city of Chicago.

The “Buddy” is there to provide guidance and support and to answer questions about life at Columbia and in the city of Chicago to help incoming new international students adjust better to their new "home away from home."

For more information, please contact or All Columbia students are invited to our Buddy Meet-Ups, which are in 618 S. Michigan, 4th Floor, every Friday at 3 p.m. We run them twice, so come on the Fridays you're able to attend.

If you are a new international student for Spring 2016, you can sign up for a buddy today!

Fall 2015 Buddy Program Meet-Ups


Group Amazing Date

Group Brilliant Date

College 101: Making the most of it

September 11, 2015

September 18, 2015

CollegeSmart Workshop: Getting a Job

September 25, 2015

October 2, 2015

My Roommate is Having Loud Sex: How to resolve conflicts while in the residence halls

October 9, 2015

October 16, 2015

DIY Workshop

October 23, 2015

October 30, 2015

American Pop Culture: TV

November 6, 2015

November 13, 2015

Fun and Games Around the Globe

November 20, 2015

December 4, 2015

November Buddy Program Info Sessions

If you're interested in being a buddy to a new international student in Fall 2016, RSVP for one of the info sessions this month!

The Buddy Program is on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr!

International Education Month

In November, the Office of International Student Affairs recognizes International Education Week, sanctioned by the United States Department of State, but expands it to the entire month!

During this month, the office collaborates with various departments and organizations, on and off campus, to bring awareness of global issues and cultures through engaging activites, moving speakers, thoughful films and entertaining showcases.

A couple of our mainstays for International Education Month are:

  • Global Harmony - a student-run cultural extravanganza with food and entertainment from all over the globe (previously called International Fair and World Bazaar)
  • Intersections - a series of discussions focusing on cultural crossroads and how they affect international discoure and relations

International Education Month 2015 Events

Global Digital Documentary Installation
Tuesday, November 3 through Thursday, November 5
Opening Reception, Tuesday, November 3, 6 - 9 p.m.
33 E Congress, C101
This international collective overcame language and distance barriers during a collaborative experience to produce a technologically advanced interactive documentary installation about landmarks and culture in two great cities, Chicago and Beijing.
The Benefit of Working in a Non-Profit
Wednesday, November 4, 12:45 p.m.
618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, Multicultural Affairs
Mark Hallett, Program Manager for Grants and Partnerships at Illinois Humanities will talk to students about working in the non-profit sector.
Buddy Program Info Sessions
November 4, 1:30 - 2:30 p.m.; November 6, 4 - 5 p.m.; November 10, 3:30 - 4:30 p.m.; November 12, 2 - 3 p.m.; November 17, 10 - 11 a.m.; November 18, 4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, Multicultural Affairs
Come and learn what it takes to be a buddy to a new international students! We’ll have a short presentation, Q & A with current buddies and the application to be a Fall 2016 buddy. RSVP for one of the info sessions.
Mostra: Brazilian Film Series
The History of Eternity
Wednesday, November 4, 3:30 p.m.
1104 S Wabash, Room 402
Directed by Camilo Cavalcante, lead actress Zezita Matos will be present and this is Camilo’s Opera Prima and US premiere.
#nofilter: Dickey Chapelle Under Fire
Friday, November 6, 11:45 a.m.
33 E Congress, 2nd Floor, Convergence Newsroom, Room 210
The second event in the #‎nofilter photojournalism series features the work of Dickey Chapelle, the first American female correspondent killed in Vietnam 50 years ago. John Garofolo will talk about Dickey's amazing career documenting war and show some of her images.
Mostra: Brazilian Film Series
Distribution Workshop
Friday, November 6, 12 - 1 p.m.
1104 S Wabash, Room 502
Adhemar Oliveira, president of the biggest distribution company in Brazil, Espaço Itaú, is coming to discuss presales, marketing and distribution.
M.F.A. Candidate Film Screenings
Friday, November 6, 5:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 7, 2:00 p.m.
1104 S Wabash, 8th Floor, Film Row Cinema
Support our international M.F.A. candidates Bucher Almzain and Felix Yeboah by seeing their films! Q & A after the films will follow.  
The Winter Blues: Mind, Body and Soul
Monday, November 9, 1:30 - 3 p.m.
618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, Multicultural Affairs
The temperature is dropping and when it’s super cold, many don’t want to go outside. We’ll provide tips on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, while being indoors.
Globe Chat: South Asia
Wednesday, November 11, 12 p.m.
618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, Multicultural Affairs
Join us as we travel to India and Pakistan! Students from these countries will share their stories as we have an Indian lunch. We’ve partnered with Asian American Cultural Affairs.  Please RSVP.
Exploring Afro-Mestizo Music
Wednesday, November 11, 2 p.m.
618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, Multicultural Affairs
Julio Montaño Montenegro will lecture on Columbian musical traditions. All are encouraged to bring their own prercussion instruments!
Global Harmony
Thursday, November 12, 5:30 p.m.
618 S Michigan, 2nd Floor, Stage Two
The sounds, sights and smells of the world collide in this student-run international fair. RSVP for this event.
International Student Health Insurance Workshop
Friday, November 13, 1 - 3 p.m.
618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, Multicultural Affairs
If you’re an international student, get clarity on the international student health insurance plan at this workshop.
Intersections: Non-Black Peoples in Sub-Saharan Africa
Monday, November 16, 3:30 - 5 p.m.
618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, Multicultural Affairs
Professor Stan West will help us understand the influence of peoples of European, Indian and Chinese ancestry in Sub-Saharan Africa and why it is significant to the discourse on race and ethnicity.
Intersections: Sexuality, K-Pop and Gender Identity
Monday, November 16, 6 - 7:30 p.m.
618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, Multicultural Affairs
Professor Claudette Roper will help us deconstruct Korean pop and how it challenges sexuality and gender identity in the United States and what it reveals about Korean culture. This is a collaboration between Hangook and Common Ground.
CollegeSmart Workshop: Immigration
Wednesday, November 18, 5 p.m.
618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, Multicultural Affairs
Learn or review the basics of US Immigration laws and how it applies to you, international student or not, from an immigration attorney.
Working in the US: Presented by Saiyna Bashir, Journalism M.A. Candidate
Thursday, November 19, 6 p.m.
618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, Multicultural Affairs
Saiyna Bashir wants to share her experience with Columbia’s international students so they know getting a job or internship is not too hard and may in fact be simpler than many thought.
Global Games
Friday, November 20, 3 p.m.
618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, Multicultural Affairs
We’re playing games, all kinds and from all over and would love for you to join us! Stay with us for the International Potluck to follow.
International Potluck
Friday, November 20, 5 p.m.
618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, Multicultural Affairs
International Student Organization and the Buddy Program are coming together to showcase favorites from around the world from our international students. Bring something to share from your culture. If you'd like to bring your favorite food from your culture, there's a short form for you to fill out.
K-Pop Dance Party
Friday, November 20, 7 - 10 p.m.
623 S Wabash, 1st Floor, The HAUS
Hangook is bringing Korean pop to Columbia! Come join Hangook for a night of live K-pop and a Korean inspired mocktail bar. Co-sponsored by Chinese Student and Scholars Association. RSVP to twerk the night away!
Covering Bosnia: American Photojournalist Amanda Rivkin
Monday, November 23, 1:30 - 2:30 p.m.
33 E Congress, Convergence Newsroom, Room 210
Photojournalist Amanda Rivkin will be answer questions about her experience covering Bosnia. This is brought by Professor Jackie Spinner and the Communication and Media Innovation department.
Chicken Soup: Korean Style!
Monday, November 30, 6 p.m.
Meet at 618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, Multicultural Affairs
Hangook wants you to try sam gye tang, Korean ginseng chicken soup! We’ll be headed to Chicago’s Koreatown, so bring some cash and your U-Pass.