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Immigration and Visa Information

Information about obtaining your U.S. Visa, immigraton paperwork and document request processing times. Read information about filing taxes.

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With limited exceptions, all international students applying for admission to the United States need an entry visa.

Contact the nearest US embassy or consulate for details on how to obtain an F-1 or J-1 visa.

We encourage you to schedule an appointment as soon as you receive your documents from Columbia Theological Seminary since there could be long wait times.

CONTINUING STUDENTS: While you are allowed to stay in the US with an expired visa, you will need a new visa to re-enter the country after international travel.

You don’t have to return to your home country to get a new F-1 or J-1 visa, but if you choose to do so in another country, be sure to confirm that the US embassy or consulate will accommodate requests for third-country nationals (meaning that you’re applying in a country outside the US, but you aren’t a citizen of that country). 

NOTE: You don’t need an entry visa stamp if you are a citizen of Bermuda or Canada. However, you still need an I-20 or DS-2019 with a valid travel signature to re-enter the U.S. to resume your studies at Columbia Theological Seminary. 

DOCUMENTATION: Before you apply for your visa, check with the US embassy or consulate where you plan to apply to find out exactly what supporting documentation is required since these requirements vary. Find the nearest embassy or consulate.

If your visa application is approved, a visa stamp will be placed in your passport noting the length of validity and the name of the school on your Form I-20 or DS-2019. Make sure you get your original I-20 or DS-2019 back from the U.S. consulate. 

In addition to completing the DS-160 online non-immigrant visa application and any documentation suggested, bring these documents to the embassy or consulate.

Immigration Paperwork

Throughout students’ time at Columbia, they may encounter a need for updated immigration documentation – for travel, internships, etc. Your International Student Advisors are here to assist. Some common needs are listed below. Please select to complete the appropriate documentation and set up a meeting with your International Student Advisor here:

Travel Endorsement

Curricular Practical Training Authorization

Document Request Processing Times

In general, we recommend that you make immigration-related requests as early as you can since Columbia doesn’t have control over government processing times. The submission deadlines listed here allow for any government processing times involved in the request.

NOTE: If additional information or follow up is needed, additional time will be added to the processing time.

Who must file tax forms for the 2023 tax season?

If you were physically in the U.S. in F or J status anytime between January 1 and December 31 you’re obligated to send one form, Form 8843, to the U.S. tax agency IRS (Internal Revenue Service), even if you had no income. For the 2023 tax season, if you earn $1 of US source income or greater, you may need to file a federal tax return with the IRS. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may also need to file a state tax return(s).

Tax Filing Deadline:

Tuesday, April 17, 2023 is the last day for residents and non-residents who earned U.S. income to file Federal tax returns for 2023.

Resident or Non-Resident for Federal Tax Purposes:

Generally, most international students & scholars who are on FJor Q visas are considered non-residents for tax purposes. International undergraduate students on J1 & F1 visas are automatically considered a non-resident for their first 5 calendar years in the US, whilst Scholars/Researchers on J visas are automatically considered non-residents for 2 out of the last 6 calendar years in the US. If you’ve been in the US for longer than the 5 or 2-year periods, the Substantial Presence Test will determine your tax residency.


We have teamed up with Sprintax to provide you with easy-to-use tax preparation software designed for non-resident students and scholars in the U.S. We (and all other Columbia Theological Seminary staff) are not qualified or allowed to provide individual tax advice.

After you log in to Sprintax, it will ask you a series of questions about the time you have spent in the United States and your immigration status, looking back over a period of years. Sprintax will then determine your tax status. If it determines that you are a “nonresident alien” (NRA) for federal tax purposes, you can continue to use it to respond to a series of guided questions. Sprintax will complete and generate the forms you need to print, sign, and mail to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). If it determines you are a resident alien for federal tax purposes, you won’t be able to continue using the software.

  1. Gather the documents you may need for Sprintax
    • See the document checklist here
  2. Create a Sprintax Account:
    • Follow the link to Sprintax to set up your account. 
    • Open your new Sprintax account by creating a UserID and password or if you have an existing account on Sprintax from a prior year, you can log in using your existing credentials.
  3. Follow the Sprintax instructions:
    • If you had No U.S. Income: Sprintax will generate a completed Form 8843 for you and each of your dependents (if you have any).
    • With U.S. Income: Sprintax will generate your “tax return documents”, including either a 1040NR-EZ or a longer form 1040NR, depending on your circumstances.
  4. (With U.S. income only) If required, complete your state tax return
    • After you finish your federal return, Sprintax will inform you if you need to complete a state tax return. If so, they will give you the option to use Sprintax for an individual fee. However, it is your choice to use them or to do the state tax return on your own.
  5. Enter your unique code (email us) in the box on the ‘Review your order’ page.  This unique code will cover the costs of the federal tax return and 8843 at no cost to you. You will be required to pay a fee for any state tax return or other additional forms.
  6. MAIL your completed federal and/or state forms to IRS and/or state tax authorities. There is no option to electronically file.  You must physically mail your returns.  Remember to read the mailing instructions that Sprintax provides. If you have dependents, each one must mail their 8843 in a separate envelope. 


If you need help while using Sprintax, contact them online.


You also have access to the Sprintax YouTube account where there are a number of educational videos on non-resident taxes to provide further clarity on the subject of using Sprintax and non-resident tax. There is also a Sprintax Blog that go through tax-related topics and can be of use to you.

YouTube Video

DISCLAIMER: International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) and Columbia Theological Seminary are NOT permitted to assist any student/scholar with any IRS tax form preparation or tax-related questions. The information provided is intended for your benefit. Any questions or concerns should be directed to Sprintax, a certified tax preparer or a local IRS field office.


General Nonresident Tax Webinars:

·        TBA

OPT Webinars:

We have 3 upcoming webinars focused on OPT/CPT participants.  Topics covered will include residency for tax purposes, tax liabilities when on OPT/CPT, and pre-employment tax forms when on OPT/CPT. The Sprintax team will also provide an overview of Sprintax Forms which can be used to prepare your pre-OPT/CPT employment tax documents.  Please share the below information with any of your nonresidents who may find these sessions beneficial and they can join on whatever date works for them.

 ·        TBA


J1 Tax Webinars

Learn about your tax filing obligations as a J1 participant who was present in the USA. We will cover topics such as who must file, residency for tax purposes, FICA taxes, implications of not filing/filing incorrectly, the stimulus check, an overview of using Sprintax and much more in this educational webinar.  Please feel free to share if you have any J Visa holders.

·      TBA