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 community 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).

If you are planning to travel out of the United States, the Travel Document Drop-Off period has begun. Please stop by our office, 618 S. Michigan, with your I-20 or DS-2019 and it will be signed and ready for you to pick up in about one week. Please note that you cannot re-enter the United States without a recent signature. For more information regarding traveling to and from the United States as an international student and other US government visa policies and procedures, please click here.

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

Spring 2016 Events

Maintaining Your Visa Status

Mandatory sessions for those on a non-immigrant visa. RSVP for a session now.

Buddy Meet-Ups

Every other Friday, 618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, Multicultural Affairs, 3 -4 pm. See the detailed schedule.

ISO/ISA/Buddy Program Spring Kick-Off

Friday, January 29, 618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, Multicultural Affairs, 5 - 7 p.m. Collaboration with International Student Organization and the Buddy Program. RSVP on Facebook.

Buddy Program Info Sessions in February

RSVP for an info session (link coming soon).

Blackploitation: Black Actors in Italian Cinema

Thursday, February 4, 600 S Michigan, 7th Floor, Room 707, 3 - 4:30 p.m. Screening and discussion with director Fred Kuwornu. In partnership with Culture, Race and Media and African American Cultural Affairs. RSVP on Facebook.

Globe Chat/Village Lunch: The Caribbean

Tuesday, February 9, 618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, Multicultural Affairs, 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Collaboration with Latino Alliance and African American Cultural Affairs. RSVP now.

Non-Black Peoples in Sub-Saharan Africa

Thursday, February 18, 618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, Multicultural Affairs, 3:30 - 5 p.m. Collaboration with African American Cultural Affairs.

Lunar New Year Celebration

Friday, February 12, 618 S Michigan, 2nd Floor, Stage Two, 6 - 9 p.m. Collaboration with Asian American Cultural Affairs and Asian Student Organization.

World Enigma

March 9-11, 33 E Congress, 1st Floor, C101 March 9: Opening Reception, 5 – 7 p.m. March 11 - Closing Reception with Live Performances, 5:30 – 9 p.m. Submit your work.

Globe Chat: Ireland & the UK

March 17, 618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, Multicultural Affairs, 12:00 – 1:30 p.m.

Globe Chat/Food for Thought: Middle East/Central Asia

Friday, April 15, 618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, Multicultural Affairs, 12 - 1:30 p.m. Collaboration with Asian American Cultural Affairs.

World Enigma 2016 - Now Accepting Art Submissions

**APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday, February 19, 2016 at 5 p.m.**

THEME: Power

Submit Your Work

- All artwork must be original.
- All art forms are accepted.
- The artist must bring in their work to install on one the designated installation days and their work should be accompanied by an artist’s statement.
- The artist’s statement should describe how their piece relates to the theme of “Power.”
- Special requests and technical needs are not guaranteed, but ISO will try its best to have those requests fulfilled.
- The artist must pick up their work on the designated de-installation day.

Please read the appropriate section below for further details regarding submission guidelines.

2D/3D Work
All submissions must be display ready.
A picture of the piece must be submitted to with "World Enigma 2016 Submission" and your name in the subject line.

A demo is strongly suggested and preferred, but not required. You can also schedule an audition.
Demos must be submitted as on a CD, flash drive, DVD to 618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, in an envelope, with your name and OASIS ID. Make sure to include "World Enigma 2016" on the envelope. You can also copy and paste the link to the demo towards the end of this form.
It should not exceed three minutes in length.
The actual performance should not be more than 10 minutes.

Poetry/Short Story Reading
A copy of the poem(s) or short story must be emailed to with "World Enigma 2016 Submission" and your name in the subject line..
All text should be original.
The actual reading should not exceed 10 minutes in length.
Poetry or short stories do not need to be performed, but they can be installed as a part of the exhibit.

Short Film/Video
A copy of the short film/video must be submitted by DVD or flash drive to 618 S Michigan, 4th Floor, in an envelope, with your name and OASIS ID. Make sure to include "World Enigma 2016" on the envelope. You can also copy and paste the link to the film or video towards the end of this form.
The actual running time must not exceed 10 minutes. Longer pieces must be edited down to meet this requirement.
Write a brief synopsis of the work to this application.

Power is a highly charged word with varied meanings throughout our planet. In the US and in many parts of the world, based on current events, it is primarily associated with the demonstrations for social justice and equality. However, this word also implies self-advocacy and self-worth as an artist. Art and media has power to change perceptions, ideas and, in some cases, beliefs. International students, through their art, have the power to show a side of themselves that is sometimes not associated with this population, while also showing the diversity within this group. This is also an opportunity for Columbia's international students to express what power means to them from their cultural perspectives and also what it means to them as a unique individual in a global society.

Address Update Form
Maintaining Your Visa Status RSVP

This session is REQUIRED for all students on a non-immigrant visa, in order to remain SEVIS compliant (F, J or other non-immigrant visas). Please RSVP by clicking the button below.

The Spring 2016 semester dates available for those on an F visa:

Wednesday, February 10, 12:30 – 1:30 pm

Tuesday, March 15, 5 – 6 pm

Thursday, April 7, 11 am – 12 pm

Monday, April 18, 10  – 11 am

The Spring 2016 semester dates available for those on a J visa:

Wednesday, February 24, 12:30 – 1:30 pm

Tuesday, April 5, 5 – 6 pm

RSVP for a session!

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!
  • Benefits must be equal to or better than what is offered at Columbia College Chicago.

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

Information for Students on a J Visa

Since you will be traveling to the US on a J-1 visa, you will be subject to the US Department of State’s regulations affecting J-1 (and J-2 ) visa holder.  The US Department of State requires that you carry medical health insurance for the full duration of your program. Many sponsor programs provide both their students and dependents with health insurance, or you will be required to enroll in a private health insurance plan. Either way, the US Department of State has minimum J1 health insurance requirements that your insurance plan must meet (which applies to J2 visa holders as well)

These requirements are:

  • Medical Benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of Remains in the amount of $25,000
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
  • Any policy, plan, or contract secured to fulfill the above requirements must, at minimum, be:
    • underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. Best rating of “A-” or above, a McGraw Hill Financial/Standard & Poor’s Claim-paying Ability rating of “A-“ or above, a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of “B+” or above, A Fitch Ratings, Inc. rating of “A-“ or above; a Moody’s Investors Service’s rating of “A3” or above; or such other rating service as the Agency may from time to time specify; or
    • backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor’s home country; or
    • part of a health benefits program offered on a group basis to employees or enrolled students by a designated sponsor; or
    • offered through or underwritten by a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or eligible Competitive Medical Plan (CMP) as determined by the Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The plan provided at Columbia College Chicago covers all of these requirements.

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!

Spring 2016 Buddy Program Meet-Ups



ISA/ISO/Buddy Program Kick-Off

January 29, 2016

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

February 12, 2016

How to be Safe on Campus and in Chicago

February 26, 2016

Getting a Job in the United States

March 11, 2016

American Slang Workshop

April 1, 2016

Living Off Campus in Chicago

April 15, 2016

End of Semester Party

April 29, 2016


May 13, 2016

The Buddy Program is on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr!

The Office of International Student Affairs is on Facebook and Twitter!