International Student Scholar Services



Q:  What are the enrollment requirements for the Fall 2021 semester.

A:   At this time, the Student & Exchange Visitor Program  (SEVP) has not announced any guidance for the fall 2021 semester.  However, Columbia College Chicago assumes that SEVP may require all students studying in the U.S. to follow normal international student enrollment requirements.     

Undergraduates -  Minimum 12 credits -   9 credits of the 12 must be campus-based (includes Hybrid classes)

Graduate Students – Minimum 9 credits -  6 credits of the 9 must be campus-based (includes Hybrid classes)

Q:  I am a new student with an initial I-20 and I would like to start my program in the summer semester, is this allowed? 

A:   In order to start your program in the U.S. in the summer you must request a new I-20 with a June 1, 2021 program start date (first day of classes).  You must register for a minimum of 6 campus-based credits (includes hybrid courses).  You should also register for the fall semester as per the above requirements. 

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:   Yes, you can start your program online in the fall, however online course options at this time are very limited. 

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 May 15, 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:  Currently Columbia College Chicago has not decided if they will require the COVID-19 vaccine for students to return to campus in the summer or fall.  Please continue to watch for updates Columbia College and ISSS once the official policy is announced.

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:

     Countries with Travel Restrictions