International Services | Teachers College Columbia University

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Student Handbook | Teachers College, Columbia University

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Office of International Services

Teachers College has a long history of welcoming international students, scholars and faculty to our academic and social community. Currently, approximately 1200 students from over 65 countries are enrolled at all degree levels and in every department. The Office of International Services (OIS) provides extensive orientation and intercultural programs throughout the year; information on responsibilities, benefits and options under immigration laws and regulations; counseling on personal, financial, cultural, academic and other concerns; and campus-wide international awareness events.

The OIS staff also assists students in contacting campus and community resources when appropriate. In addition, the office provides visa and orientation services for international visiting scholars, resources for delegations of international visitors and assistance to the college community on international issues.

Information of interest to international students is distributed weekly to all who are subscribed to the voluntary OIS e-newsletter “Weekly Update.” Subscription information is available on the OIS website. The OIS website also provides information to prospective, incoming and current students on visas and immigration matters, financial aid, employment, and community connections. Students are encouraged to communicate with International Services via email or by stopping by the office in L5 Whittier Hall.

In addition to orientation sessions, informational meetings are scheduled for all international students to learn more about their rights and responsibilities for maintaining student status. Information on immigration procedures is also available from the OIS and on their website. Knowledgeable OIS staff members help students understand the requirements and benefits of nonimmigrant student status, as well as process the necessary forms. The OIS is the office responsible for certifying international students’ eligibility for on-campus and off-campus employment, and for compliance with the international student/scholar tracking system (SEVIS) as required by US government regulations.

During “income tax season” (February to April), TC international students who are “nonresident aliens” for tax purposes are provided, free of charge, access to US federal tax return preparation software. OIS staff is not able to answer tax questions, but they can direct students to helpful publications and information.

A variety of programs for international students, and for all members of TC interested in intercultural issues, are scheduled throughout the year.

In both fall and spring semesters, the OIS, in cooperation with a number of offices on the TC and Columbia campuses, offers a variety of workshops to assist new and continuing international students to become successful graduate students. These sessions are designed and organized by OIS staff and International Orientation Interns, based on their studies in international education as well as their personal experiences. International students who are new to US higher education are especially encouraged to participate in Academic Language and Culture, a free workshop series offered every Fall and Spring semester and designed to introduce students to US academic culture and academic expectations.

In November of each year, International Education Week (IEW) is celebrated in the U.S. and around the world. Teachers College participates in IEW by highlighting the College’s long history of leadership in international educational exchange, development and scholarship. Faculty, students and visiting scholars are invited to share their international research projects in poster sessions, panel presentations and other activities.

Each Spring, TC international students plan and host International Week. The entire TC community looks forward to this annual, week-long event. It provides everyone with the opportunity to learn more about the countries and cultures of TC’s international students. Presentations of food, music, dance, cinema, traditional artifacts and national dress from around the world allow the entire TC community to appreciate similarities and to celebrate diversity. International students are encouraged to host an event about their country or to join with others to present an activity of international interest.

Global Classroom, an international speakers’ bureau sponsored by One To World (formerly Metro International) offers an on-campus workshop in the fall semester for New York-area international students who would like to share their cultures with American elementary, middle and high school students. Other popular One To World activities include community visits during American holidays, trips to cultural events, “campus to career” programs, walking tours of New York City, and an evening cruise around Manhattan. Complete information is available at Also, the monthly schedule of events at International House ( ) is posted and applications for nonresident membership can be picked up at International Services.

At the beginning of the Fall and Spring semesters, new international students are strongly encouraged to attend New International Student Orientation. At these sessions, continuing international students offer their advice and hints on life as a graduate student in New York City. Topics include personal security, financial aid, living on a tight budget, strategies for academic success, and cultural adjustment. New students are also introduced to Teachers College offices and facilities and to the neighborhood.

New students in F-1 and J-1 visa status are required to attend visa orientation sessions given by the OIS on US government regulations relating to their status as well as immigration benefits, including employment and practical training. Additionally, students are required to attend one of the employment workshops. Employment Workshops are scheduled throughout the year to help continuing and graduating students take advantage of F-1 employment options.

Experienced, professional International Student Advisors are available to advise individual students regarding personal, financial, immigration, cultural, academic and other concerns. To meet with an advisor, appointments as well as walk-in hours are available. When it is appropriate, an advisor will assist the student in contacting other offices or professionals.

Office of International Services

Samantha Lu, Director

L5 Whittier Hall
(212) 678-3939
(212) 678-3990