International Student Scholar Services



Q:  What are the enrollment requirements for continuing students during the Fall 2021 semester?

A:   On April 26, 2021 the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced that F visa students and schools certified by SEVP should continue to abide by guidance issued in March 2020 for the upcoming 2021-22 academic year.  This guidance allows continuing students to enroll in additional online classes as needed due to the Covid-19 pandemic in the event campus-based classes are not available. 

     You may maintain your F-1 status as long as you have a minimum of 12 credit hours ( 9 credits for graduate students). Students in their last semester or on thesis may be below the minimum.   Please note that Columbia College Chicago's Fall 2021 schedule consists of about 75% campus-based or hybrid classes and about 25% of the courses are totally online.  Therefore, continuing students outside the U.S. may not be able to study full-time overseas due to a stronger campus-based schedule.  

Q:  What are the enrollment requirements for new students and students who did not attend classes last year during the Fall 2021 semester?  

A:  If you are a new student or a student who took an academic break and have an "initial" I-20, you must enroll in at least one campus-based course.  However, we recommend you enroll in at least two campus-based classes in the event a class later is cancelled or moved online.  You may not study entirely online in the Fall 2021 semester.  

Q:  I am a new student but I am unable to come to the U.S. in the fall.  May I start my program online?

A:   Undergraduate students may start their program online in the fall, however online course options at this time are limited.  You may study part-time from your home country if you are unable to enroll full-time. Graduate students, please reach out to to discuss this if you think you might be delayed entering the United States for the fall semester.

Q:  I am a returning student who took one or more semesters off due to COVID-19.  Do I need a new I-20 and visa to return to the U.S.?

A:   In most cases, you will need a new I-20 and will need to pay a new SEVIS fee.  However, as long as your student visa is valid, you may use the same visa with the new I-20.  In some cases, if you enroll for the summer semester and return within 5 months of your SEVIS termination, ISSS can reactivate your SEVIS record to avoid paying the SEVIS fee.   Summer full-time enrollment requires a minimum of 6 campus-based credits.   In order to return on your current I-20 and to avoid paying the SEVIS fee again, you must return and resume classes during the summer 2021 semester. If you don’t return until the fall of 2021, you will need to request a new I-20, pay the SEVIS fee, and submit updated financial documents.  Please allow at least 2 weeks for ISSS to process your documents.  If your student visa is expired, you should request a new I-20 as soon as possible.    

Q:  When does the fall 2021 international student insurance policy start?   

A:   The fall 2021 plan becomes effective on August 25, 2021.   However, if you return for the summer semester, you will be required to enroll in a summer policy which is effective from June 1, 2021 through August 24, 2021.

Q:  I am a continuing student but will study online in my home country during the fall semester.  Am I still able to continue working “virtually” on-campus if my current job is available?

A:   If you already were authorized for campus employment and your hiring department still wishes to have you work, you may work from your home country.  Direct deposit in a U.S. bank is required as payroll cannot deposit funds in a foreign bank account or send checks overseas.

Q:  I am a continuing student who will require a new I-20 for the fall.  Does this effect CPT or OPT?  

A:    The issuance of a new I-20 sets your F-1 status back to the beginning.  To be eligible for CPT (internship) or OPT after you graduate, you must complete an academic year in F-1 status, therefore you won’t be eligible for either CPT or OPT until the end of the spring 2022 semester. 

Q:  I will graduate in the current semester, but I am unable to return to campus and will complete my last semester online.    Am I still eligible to apply for OPT and return to the U.S. to work for one year if my OPT is approved?  

A:   If you can return to the U.S. prior to the end of your last semester you are eligible to apply for OPT. (OPT requires you apply while you are in the U.S.)   Please contact if you intend to return to the states mid-term to apply for OPT. 

Q:  Does our international student insurance plan cover Covid-19 testing and the Covid-19 vaccination?

A:   Yes, the Lewer Mark policy covers Covid-19 testing under the wellness benefit of your plan for testing when you have no symptoms. If you are ill and the doctor requires you get a Covid-19 test, it is covered under the diagnostics benefit. Your insurance also covers any of the 3 available vaccines currently offered in the U.S.  The City of Chicago is offering the Covid-19 vaccination to all individuals 16 and older effective April 19, 2021.   The vaccination is free, but at some vaccination sites you may be required to present your Lewermark student insurance ID.     

Q:  Will Columbia College Chicago require proof of vaccination to attend school?   Will it accept vaccinations from other countries? 

A:  On April 19, 2021 Columbia College Chicago announced that it would require all students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend classes in the fall.  For more specific details please see:       


Q:   When I arrive to Chicago, how long do I need to quarantine? 

A:    General Covid-19 information for the City of Chicago can be found HERE   Please note, if you will be staying in            Student Housing, that requirements could vary and you will receive specific instructions from housing prior to              your arrival in August/September.                

Q:  How do I know if there are specific travel restrictions for my home country?

A:  Please see the following CDC webpage for specific details on Travel Restrictions and recent exceptions that allow students from travel-restricted countries to come to the U.S. under the National Interest Exception (NIE) program. 

     Countries with Travel Restrictions

     Exceptions to Travel Restrictions







Exceptions to Travel Restrictions