International Students

Welcome to the Union Community

Union is thrilled to have international students become part of the vibrant and engaged theological community in New York City. Once an international student has been accepted to attend Union, the Office of Student Affairs will work with them through the visa, travel, financial, and orientation process.

As a first step, we suggest international Students read through the Union International Students Pre-Orientation Guide. This document that will orient students to the process of becoming a Union student, including instructions about the various forms you’ll need to complete.

International students should thoroughly read through this page and the many resources that we have provided. If you have any questions throughout this process, please reach email Union at intlstudents@uts.columbia.edu.

Getting To Union

The items in this section must be addressed before your orientation to Union. Click the links below to access key information and necessary forms.

 International Student Handbook
This document contains Union’s policies and
practices regarding International Students.  It also
has information about housing, employment, and living
in New York.
 Form I-20  Handbook This document will guide you through the
application process for receiving your Form
I-20 which is required for International Student Visas.
 Form I-20  Application This is the application for the Form I-20. This must
be completed and processed before your Visa interview.
 Transfer  Documentation      This link is for International Students transferring
their F-1 status to Union from another U.S. based
educational institution.

 Getting Your Visa     

This is an important document containing information
about entering the U.S. and obtaining your Student Visa.

Returning & Current International Students

Please find the forms below for returning and current international students. These have to do with changes to F-1 student status, academic changes to F-1 student status, employment options, and travel endorsements. Details for filling each one out are found in the Guide to Forms for International Students.

Reinstatement to F-1 Student Status

Changing to F1 Student Status

  • If your principal activity, reason, or purpose for being in the U.S. has changed or ended, and you want to stay in the U.S. because you have a specific educational or professional objective you want to pursue full-time, you will need to change your status to F-1 Student to remain here lawfully. Please fill out the form below and follow the instructions in the Guide to Forms for International Students on page 7.
    Click here to the Attachment to Form I-539: Application to Change to F-1 Student Status

F-1 Reduced Course Load

  • F-1 international students are required by U.S. Department of Homeland Security regulations to pursue a full course of study each fall and spring semester. Under certain academic circumstances, you may qualify for a reduced course load (RCL) of 6 credits or less for an illness or medical condition. Please consult the Guide to Forms for International Students page 9 about the requirements and instructions for reducing your course load. Click here for the Application for F-1 Reduced Course Load.

F-1 Program Extension

  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security regulations requires you to file for more time to complete your program of study if you do not expect to be finished by the date that appears on your current Form I-20. If you do not complete your program in time, you must apply for a Program Extension and be issued a new Form I-20 before your current Form I-20 expires. FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THIS REQUIREMENT RESULTS IN THE TERMINATION OF YOUR F-1 STUDENT STATUS. Please see the Guide to Forms for International Students page 10 for the qualifications, requirements, and instructions for requesting a program extension. Click here to request for F-1 Program Extension.

F-1 Transfer Out Request

  • In the event that you should choose to transfer from Union Theological Seminary to a different school during your study in the U.S., you must follow the guidelines outlined in the Guide to Forms for International Students and submit a transfer-out request online here.
    Click here for the F-1 Transfer-Out Request.

Curricular Practical Training Employment Authorization

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines Curricular Practical Training (CPT) as employment which is an integral part of an established curriculum, including: “alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, field education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” [8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)]. CPT is available only prior to the completion of your degree program and you must have a job offer at the time of application. This is different than the requirements for OPT. Please see the Guide to Forms for International Students for more details. Click here for the Faculty Advisor Recommendation for CPT.

Option Practical Training

Severe Economic Hardship Employment Authorization

  • For all travel outside the U.S., you must get an endorsement on your Form I-20 by filling out this form online. Your Form I-20 can only be endorsed for re-entry to the U.S. if you intend and are eligible to continue your studies at Union Theological Seminary or are pursuing Post-Completion studies OPT. It cannot be endorsed if you have completed your program (even if you have not yet attended graduation ceremonies) but have not yet applied for Post-OPT employment.Please fill this form out online so we can make sure you will not have re-entry difficulties.Click here to Request an I-20 Travel Endorsement

If you have any questions throughout this process, please reach email Union at intlstudents@uts.columbia.edu.

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