A row of various countries' flags outside the United Nations building.

Admitted International Students

Columbia Law School attracts to its J.D. program one of the largest proportions of international students of any leading U.S. law school. 20% of the class of 2025 are international students who hail across 37 countries across six continents. 

International students (those not holding permanent resident status) are eligible to apply for grants from the Law School and loans from credit-based educational loan programs. Refer to the International J.D. Students page on the Financial Aid Office's website for more information.

The International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) is the University’s office for international students, and its website is a great source of comprehensive and current information about the regulations from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State that affect international students studying in the United States. Upon application, the ISSO will issue the immigration documents required for visa application.

International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO)
Tel: 212-854-3587
[email protected]

Visit the "Updates and Resources" section of the ISSO website for ISSO operational hours, FAQs, updates, and resources.


The Law School is not involved in the processing of the forms I-20 or DS-2019 which are required for entry visa applications. ISSO assists admitted Law School students with the I-20/DS-2019 application process, and its website is the most comprehensive source of information on obtaining the entry visa. Visit the "Getting Started" section for information about applying for your I-20/DS-2019.

Note: Canadian citizens do not require an entry visa but must have an I-20/DS-2019 (see below) to be admitted to the United States in student status and are subject to all other student immigration regulations.

How to Apply for a Visa:

  1. You must first obtain a I-20/DS-2019 from Columbia University in order to apply for a student entry visa. The form I-20 for the F-1 Student entry visa and the form DS-2019 is for the J-1 Exchange Visitor Student Category entry visa.
  2. Once you have submitted your $600 tuition deposit to the Office of Admissions, please visit the ISSO website to complete and submit your application along with a $106 Administrative Processing Fee.
  3. Upload all required supporting documentation. Please do not send your documents by postal mail, courier service, or email.
  4. ISSO will process your completed application and send your I-20/DS-2019. F-1 students will receive their I-20 electronically. J-1 students will receive their DS-2019 via courier service, as required by the Department of State. Shipping instructions are provided in the application.
  5. Apply to the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate as soon as possible after you receive the I-20/DS_2019 from the ISSO, as visa processing can take up to 12 weeks at some U.S. consulates.
  6. The Department of State website has links to all consulates where you will find the required application forms and specific application and documentary requirements for the consulate at which you will apply.
  7. You should have your entry visa in your passport before you purchase your airline ticket. Note: The earliest date you may enter the U.S. is 30 days before the program start date on your I-20/DS-2019.
  8. International students must notify the ISSO of their arrival in the U.S. by submitting the online SEVIS Report Form
  9. Submit the form within seven days of your arrival in the U.S. The ISSO will present an information session on F-1 and J-1 student status as part of the Law School’s LL.M. Orientation.

*Note: Do not enter the United States in Visitor status B-1/2 or WB/WT. Those in B-1/2 or WB/WT are not allowed to attend class and are in violation of their visitor status if they do so. Therefore, you must wait to obtain the F-1 or J-1 entry visa before entering the U.S. to study at Columbia.

If your visa issuance is delayed for any reason, and you are not sure how to proceed, please contact ISSO at 212-854-3587 or [email protected].

Please refer to the information provided within the Housing section to learn more about the housing options for Columbia Law School students.