F-1 Student Status

Understanding F-1 Student Status

U.S. Immigration Requirements for F-1 Status

The U.S. immigration system permits you to obtain an F-1 visa and/or enter the United States as an F-1 student if you meet certain requirements. In order to be eligible for an F-1 student status, you must:

  • be admitted to an academic or language institution
  • be admitted to and engage in a full course of study (full-time program)
  • have adequate financial resources to meet the tuition, fees, and living expenses for a full-time program
  • have a residence abroad to which you intend to return 

Under the U.S. immigration system, F-1 student status is considered a non-immigrant statusThis means that you are expected to have a residence abroad to which you intend to return upon completing your program and/or any post-completion optional practical training for which you are eligible. If you have pursued or are pursuing U.S. permanent residency, you are considered to have 'immigrant intent' and as such would not be considered eligible for F-1 student status. Please contact the Office of International Services at tcintl@tc.columbia.edu for more information.

Teachers College Requirements for F-1 Status

Teachers College is authorized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to sponsor eligible foreign nationals for F-1 student status. In order to be eligible, you must have been admitted to a full-time program of study at Teachers College and have documented adequate financial resources to meet your required tuition, fees, and living expenses.  For more information about the process for obtaining TC sponsorship, please visit the Visa Basics section of our website. 

Teachers College sponsors F-1 students insofar as their primary objective is to enter the U.S. to engage in and make full-time progress toward degree objectives. Other goals, such as seeking employment, are acceptable provided they are consistent with F-1 regulations and with full-time study toward a degree objective.

Students whose primary source of funding or financial support is through institutional sources (such as funding through a government scholarship or home-country university scholarship) may be eligible or required to apply for J-1 student status instead. Please visit the Understanding J-1 Students Status section of our website for more information.

Non-Degree Students

Teachers College does not offer F-1 sponsorship to non-degree students, except in the following circumstances:

  • The student must have submitted a completed application for a degree program with the TC Office of Admission
  • The sponsorship is for one semester, pending a final decision on the application for admission to a degree program
  • The student must agree to take a minimum of 12 credits of coursework
  • The student must acknowledge that enrollment as a non-degree student is not a guarantee of admission to a degree program at Teachers College.

If you are interested in obtaining F-1 sponsorship from TC as a non-degree student, please contact the OIS at tcintl@tc.columbia.edu with detailed information regarding your specific situation.

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