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International Students

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International Student Applicants

You are considered an international student only if you have applied or will apply for a non-immigrant United States F-1 visa. Applicants who have established permanent resident status in the U.S. are not considered international students for admission purposes and should apply as a U.S. resident.

International Admission Application Requirements

Please mail application materials to:

Western Colorado University
Admissions Office
1 Western Way
Gunnison, CO 81231
Email: admissions@western.edu

Please FAX application materials to:


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International Student Informational Resources

At Western, we welcome students from all over the world to grow and thrive in our community. While the admissions process for an international university might seem overwhelming, our academic staff is committed to making your transition to Western and to the United States as seamless as possible.

All international students are highly encouraged to have health insurance. If you can show proof of enrollment in an accident/sickness insurance plan from your home country that will be accepted in the United States then you do not have to purchase another plan. There are several insurance companies offering international student insurance, such as HTH Worldwide, International Student Insurance or Shondeck Insurance. These health insurance providers can offer coverage for prescriptions, doctor’s visits (related to injury or sickness), and other inpatient and outpatient care. The Campus Health Center can provide most of your common medical services.

Without medical coverage an unexpected illness could mean financial hardship for you and your family, and could make it financially difficult to continue your education. If you are an intercollegiate athlete, you are required to follow the health insurance requirements provided by the Athletic Department at Western Colorado University. Please note if you are an intercollegiate athlete you should contact your coach in order to best figure out which health insurance plan you should purchase. The health insurance provisions and benefits are subject to change.

As a student in the U.S. in F-1 status, you are required to follow specific federal laws. This is meant to provide a generic overview of certain F-1 requirements; it does not contain all laws for every situation. If you ever have questions or concerns, always contact the Office of Student Affairs for specific guidance.

As an F-1 student, it is your responsibility to maintain your non-immigrant F-1 status. Failure to follow the laws for F-1 status can result in you losing your legal ability to be in the U.S., and may harm your chances of getting a new visa in the future. To ensure you are following F-1 laws, you must:

  • Keep your passport valid at all times, in most cases for at least six months into the future.
  • Ensure your I-94 card is always marked as F-1, D/S when you re-enter the U.S.
  • Complete your class registration by the published registration deadline.
  • Update your change of physical address (where you live in the US) with the Office of Student Affairs within 10 days of the change. This address cannot be a P.O. Box or a departmental address. More information can be found here.
  • Pursue a full-course of study each fall and spring semester, defined as 12 semester hours for undergraduate students and nine semester hours for graduate students.
  • Obtain permission from the Office of Student Affairs if you need to enroll in less than a full-course of study, using the Part-Time Enrollment Authorization form.
  • Obtain permission from the Office of Student Affairs before withdrawing from all your courses.
  • Make normal progress toward completing a course of study. This includes graduating when you are eligible to graduate and not delaying graduation for non-academic reasons.
  • Not let your I-20 expire. You must remember the expiration date on your I-20, and process your program extension prior to the expiration date listed on your current I-20 if you are not able to complete your studies by that time.
  • Restrict your on-campus work to a weekly total of 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters. You may work full-time during the winter and summer vacations.
  • Refrain from beginning off-campus work until you have obtained the necessary authorization in advance from either the Office of Student Affairs or the USCIS.
  • If traveling outside the U.S., ensure you have a valid visa (except citizens of Canada and Bermuda) and a recent travel signature on your I-20.
  • Notify the Office of Student Affairs if you will be outside of the U.S. for more than five months.
  • Contact the Office of Student Affairs if you wish to transfer to another U.S. school.
  • Not work after completing your program of study unless you have been authorized for Optional Practical Training.
  • Depart from the U.S. within 60 days after completing your program of study.

Information on this page applies to International Students ONLY. Any links provided are not companies endorsed by Western and students are encouraged to do their own research regarding tax filing as well. Please use this site as a guideline only.

Instructions directly from the IRS can be found here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p519.pdf

Examples of different tax situations provided by the IRS can be found here: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/alien-residency-examples

Who has to file a U.S. tax return?

A nonresident alien (F Visa holder for less than five years) who is in the United States for at least half of a year (183 days) or if you receive interest income from deposits with a U.S. bank, savings, loan, credit union or insurance company.

If I do not work, do I need to file?

Yes. You must file IRS Form 8843. Dependents on F-2 and J-2 status must also file IRS Form 8843.

How do I determine my status as either nonresident alien or a resident alien?

Contact the Study Abroad Office for assistance in determining your status.

Why is knowing my residency status important?

You will need to know this information to properly file your tax return. For nonresidents, the special tax form is Form 1040NR. For any exceptions contact the Study Abroad Office for assistance.

What do I need to file my taxes?
  • Visa
  • Current and previous passports
  • Form 1-20
  • Social Security Number
  • Current and foreign/permanent address
  • U.S. entry and exit dates (stamps in your passport, or your travel history listed on your I-94 entry documentation which can be found at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home )
  • Any tax forms you have received (some can be found on your MyWestern account: employee->tax forms), which may include:
    • Form W-2
    • Form 1042-S
    • Form 1095-C
    • Form 1099
  • Western Information
    • 1 Western Way, Gunnison, CO 81231
What tax form should I use as a non-resident alien?
How do I file my taxes?
  • Follow all instructions carefully
  • For Form 8843:
    • In part III – Item 9: Western Colorado University, 1 Western Way, Gunnison, CO 81231, 970.943.2232
    • In part III – Item 19: Laurel Becker, Western Colorado University, 1 Western Way, Gunnison, CO 81231, 970.943.2232
    • All other items you should be able to answer on your own.
  • Registration & Advising Services will be putting together a meeting that you may attend to help you navigate tax requirements 970.943.7056.

All forms are due by April 15.

**If you are only filing IRS Form 8843, it is due by June 15**

Where should I send the tax forms?

If you need to send in paper forms, send to:

Department of the Treasury

Internal Revenue Service Center

Austin, TX 73301-0215

Should I keep copies of my tax return forms?

Absolutely! You need to have proof that you filed them.

More Resources

Browse work-study positions. International students may only work in institutional positions.

International Graduate Student Applicants

Western Colorado University welcomes graduate students from around the world. Western attracts international graduate students with small, thought-provoking, residential classes, engaging online programs and its dedicated faculty.

The School of Graduate Studies manages Western’s five graduate programs: Graduate Program in Creative Writing (MFA/M.A.), Master of Environmental Management, Master of Art in Education, a graduate program in High Altitude Exercise Physiology and a Master in Gallery Management and Exhibits Specialization program. The School’s staff will help you address the challenges of studying in the U.S. by providing pre-arrival assistance information on visas, registration, orientation and housing.

You are classified as an international student only if you will apply for or already have a non-immigrant United States F-1 visa. Applicants who have established permanent-resident status in the U.S. are not considered international for admission purposes and should apply as a U.S. resident.

To be considered for graduate programs at Western, you must hold the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree. You must have earned the degree at an institution recognized and approved to award such credentials. Typically, Western does admit international students as non-degree-seeking students.

If you are applying to one of Western’s completely online programs, the Master of Arts in Education program or the Master in Gallery Management and Exhibits Specialization program, please contact Laurel Becker (lbecker@western.edu) regarding visa requirements. As Western’s SEVIS Coordinator, she will assist you.

Required Documentation for Admission to Graduate Programs

International graduate students seeking admission to one of Western’s master’s programs must submit an online application, official college transcripts and specific program requirements. All documents in a language other than English must be accompanied by certified English translations.

How to Apply for Admission
  1. Complete and submit Western’s Online Graduate Application. All applications must be completed online.
  2. Submit a $50 non–refundable application fee. We will not process applications until we receive payment.
  3. Submit admission requirements for your particular program:
    1. Graduate Programs in Creative Writing
    2. Master of Arts in Education
    3. Master of Environmental Management
    4. High Altitude Exercise Physiology
  4. If you earned your degree at a U.S. Institution, submit official copies of all secondary transcripts and verification that you received a degree. International applicants must hold the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree. We do not return submitted documents to applicants. If you were educated overseas and are submitting a detailed credential evaluation (see next bullet item), we do not require official transcripts with the application. We do require official, final-degree-verifying transcripts if you have not received your degree at the time of application.
  5. If you earned your degree at a foreign, non-U.S. Institution, submit a credential evaluation prepared by a reputable credential evaluator. Western Colorado University will accept evaluations prepared by a National Association of Credentials Evaluation Services member. Each credential evaluation agency has different names for different services. The evaluation, regardless of what it is called by the evaluation agency, must include a detailed listing of the courses completed while you were enrolled at the overseas institutions, the grade received in each course, and an overall evaluation of your cumulative coursework at each institution. International applicants who will not have earned a degree prior to applying to a graduate program should request that the evaluation agency note the US equivalency of the anticipated awarded degree. Evaluations must be sent directly from the evaluation service agency. Photocopies are not accepted.
  6. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) – International students must demonstrate English language proficiency by submitting TOEFL or IELTS results. Minimum scores on the TOEFL are iBT (internet based test): 79-120, Paper Version: 550, Computer-Based Test: 213. Applicants from countries where English is the SOLE OFFICIAL language of instruction (Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Canada-except Quebec, England, the Gambia, Ghana, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, New Zealand, Nigeria, Scotland, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad, Tobago, Uganda and Wales) are typically not required to submit TOEFL results. For more information on TOEFL, please visit http://www.ets.org/toefl
  7. The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is required by some academic programs. All test scores must be submitted directly by the testing agency. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) code for Western Colorado University Graduate School is 7527. Photocopies of test scores are not accepted.

Before your application can be reviewed, you also must provide:

An Affidavit of Support Form for your specific graduate program and include it with your application for Admission to Western. Western Colorado University and the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement require that admitted students planning to enter the U.S. on an F-1 (student) visa provide proof of financial support before immigration documents (I-20) can be issued. Proof of the ability to cover the first year’s educational costs, living expenses and other miscellaneous expenses must be made available to the University. The program specific Affidavit of Support contains estimated tuition and fee cost for each program. The tuition and fee cost for each program is subject to change.

Other Required Documents:

  • A letter of financial support and bank statement showing sufficient funds to cover the first year of study.
  • A photocopy of your passport, listing official name, birthdate, etc.
  • If you are in the U.S., a photocopy of your visa and I-94 by which you entered the country.

You must submit financial documents via postal mail.

Send materials to:

Western Colorado University
Academic Affairs
Taylor Hall 301
1 Western Way
Gunnison, CO 81231
Phone: 970.943.2232

* We do not accept documents received by email or fax. We do not return documents submitted as part of a graduate application. Federal financial aid is not available to international graduate students.

Application Deadlines

Students are considered for summer admissions for the graduate programs in Creative Writing and the Master of Environmental Management. Students are considered for fall admissions for Master of Arts in Education and the High Altitude Exercise Physiology master program. Completed application forms must be on file with the Extended Studies Office by March 1 for admittance for the summer semester, and by May 1 for the fall semester.

Application Status

Typically, you will receive your admission decision four to six weeks after we have received all of your application materials. Contact your program director for additional information.

Confirming your Enrollment

Once you decide to attend one of Western’s master programs, confirm your enrollment and reserve your spot in the in-coming class by submitting your $250 deposit. You will need to submit your deposit before you can register for classes.

To submit your deposit by check or credit card, contact the Cashier’s Office at 970.943.3003.

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