ISSS-BU NEWS FOR MONDAY, 06 April 2015


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CONTENTS:

  1. Pursuit of Academic Success Group Meeting
  2. Next International Coffee Hour: Friday, April 17
  3. ISSS Availability
  4. Leadership Volunteers Needed - Fall 2015 International Student Orientation
  5. Don't Become a Victim of a Phone Scam!
  6. ISSS No Longer Issues Letters of Certification (LOCs) or Letters of Invitation (LOIs)
  7. Have you Applied for an Extension of your I-20? Update your Information for your On-Campus Employment
  8. Are you working more than one job at Binghamton University? Be sure you are only working 20 hours a week in total!
  9. Are you thinking of applying for Optional Practical Training?
  10. Health Insurance and OPT

1. Pursuit of Academic Success Group Meeting

The Pursuit of Academic Success group assists international students in maximizing their academic achievement. Each week a different challenge or barrier to academic success is discussed. This group is a drop-in meeting and weekly attendance is not required. All international students are invited!

Next Meeting Topic: Stress Management
Facilitator: Dr. Sangmoon Kim
When: Wednesday, April 15 from 2:30pm to 4:00pm
Location: ISSS Conference Room (LSG552, Library South, Ground Floor, Room 552)
Questions? Contact Dr. Sangmoon Kim at 777-2772 or sakim@binghamton.edu

2. Next International Coffee Hour: Friday, April 17

Good company! Complementary refreshments! Relax by coming to this month's International Coffee Hour from 3:30-5 p.m. Friday, April 17, in the UU-Mandela Room. This month's sponsor is the vice president for research. April Coffee Hour participants will have the opportunity to learn more about the sponsor while mingling with both international and domestic students.

International Coffee Hour strives to be a space where the entire Binghamton University community, including international students, U.S. students, faculty/staff and community members are welcome. The coffee hours are informal and provide an opportunity to meet and learn more about each other in a relaxed atmosphere. They are usually held on the first Friday of every month during the academic year from 3:30-5 p.m. All are welcome!

If you have any questions about International Coffee Hour, contact Linda Torricelli, ISSS programming coordinator.

3. ISSS Availability

The ISSS will be unavailable Monday, April 27, 2015 from 2:30pm to 5:00pm. Thank you for your patience and please plan accordingly. Please visit the ISSS website for updates.

4. Leadership Volunteers Needed - Fall 2015 International Student Orientation

Are you interested in helping new international students during Orientation and adding Leadership and U.S. Culture Training experience to your resume? Then, sign up to be a Leadership Volunteer!

Leadership Volunteers are a select group of Binghamton University students, who join ISSS staff to welcome new international students during Fall International Student Orientation. Leadership Volunteer recruitment is now underway.

Leadership Volunteers engage in a 3-day training program to help prepare them for their role during Orientation. The training program is organized by the 5 goals of the Orientation program:

  • Help New Students Feel Comfortable in a New Environment (Networking)
  • Meet Students' Needs
  • Share Important Information
  • Learn about U.S. Culture
  • Build Trust and Make New Friends

The Training Program includes activities that give all Leadership Volunteers the opportunity to:

  • Become a Team
  • Prepare Presentations for Small Group Activities
  • Understand the Needs of New International Students

During Orientation, Leadership Volunteers greet new international students at check-in, welcome them during the introductory meeting, lead small group discussions, provide reassurance and essential information, and most importantly contribute to a warm and sincere presence during the new international student's first few days on campus. Many new students tell the ISSS how important the Leadership Volunteers were to their initial experience at Binghamton University. Many Leadership Volunteers tell the ISSS how valuable the training was to their own professional and personal development.

Leadership Volunteer Training will take place Tuesday, August 18 to Thursday, August 20, 2015. International Student Graduate Orientation is Friday, August 21. International Student Undergraduate Orientation is Monday, August 24 to Wednesday, August 26, 2015.

If you are interested in becoming a Leadership Volunteer, please click here to complete the interest form.

Questions? Contact Linda Torricelli, ISSS Programming Coordinator, at ltorrice@binghamton.edu.

5. Don't Become a Victim of a Phone Scam!

If contacted via phone and asked for personal information, you should immediately be suspicious. Ask for the person's full name, agency, and reporting office, and for a government telephone number to call the person back. Phone scam callers will often tell you that your only opportunity is at the time of the call and that you have to take action now. Don't believe them. Never release personal information over the phone, and be aware that a government agency would never go about any formal proceedings with a phone call. Should you ever get any requests in print, please bring them to ISSS immediately and we will review them and advise accordingly.

USCIS wants to stop immigration services scams. More information about common scams and about how to report such scams can be found on the USCIS Website.

6. ISSS No Longer Issues Letters of Certification (LOCs) or Letters of Invitation (LOIs)

The ISSS is no longer issuing Letters of Certification (LOCs) or Letters of Invitation (LOIs). This includes Letters of Invitations for graduation. Please be aware that these letters are not required by the US Embassy or Consulate to obtain a visa. However, if you would still like to provide documentation to an embassy for yourself or others, please take note of the following:

Letters of Certification: If you need proof that you have maintained your enrollment at Binghamton University, you can make that request online through the Office of Student Records (formerly The Registrar's Office). Please follow the instructions on their website.

Letters of Invitation: If you would like to invite your family/friends to visit you, you can write the invitation letter yourself! Invitation letters are not required by the US Embassy or Consulate to apply for a tourist visa. However, if you wish to provide a letter, it should include the following:

  • Your name, the reason for your living in the U.S., and your current immigration status (likely F-1 or J-1)
  • The names of your family members who wish to visit, and an explanation of the purpose of their visit and how long they expect to stay.
  • You can also provide a copy of your I-20/DS-2019, if you feel comfortable doing so

For more information on applying for a tourist visa, please visit the following site: U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs.

7. Have you Applied for an Extension of your I-20? Update your Information for your On-Campus Employment

If you have applied for and have been granted an extension of your I-20, you must provide a copy of your new I-20 to your hiring department or the Binghamton University Human Resources Department. You must do so in a timely manner if you wish to remain eligible to work on campus, as they need to update your I-9 paperwork so you can continue to receive a paycheck!

8. Are you working more than one job at Binghamton University? Be sure you are only working 20 hours a week in total!

The regulations that govern the employment of international students in F or J status are important to learn and understand. What is allowed for the number of hours an international student can work is not the same as what is allowed for a US citizen student.

During the academic semester, international students in F-1 or J-1 status are only allowed to work 20 hours a week. If you have more than one job at Binghamton University, the number of hours you work at all of your jobs can only total 20 hours. As an example if you are funded and work 15 hours a week as a Research Assistant, you can only work 5 additional hours for a different Binghamton University employer.

International students in J-1 status must first secure authorization from the ISSS Office before beginning any employment on –campus. This requirement is also true for work done as a graduate assistant or teaching assistant. If you are in J-1 status you must apply for work authorization each year. The link to the authorization form can be found here.

If you have any questions about on-campus employment at Binghamton University, you will want to read the information sheet for your visa type at the web link below:

If you still have questions after reading the above information, please visit ISSS Walk-In Advising Hours for additional guidance. Walk-In Advising Hours are Monday and Tuesday from 10am to 11:45am and Wednesday and Thursday from 1:30pm-3:30pm.

9. Are you thinking of applying for Optional Practical Training?

Optional Practical Training is an employment authorization for international students in F-1 status. This authorization is the one that authorizes employment in a job related to your academic major after graduation. You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT.

Your OPT application is processed in two steps:

Step 1: You Submit the Academic Advisor's Recommendation Form to ISSS Office and we prepare an I-20 for OPT for you. This step in the process takes 7-10 working days. We will email you when your I-20 for OPT is ready.

Step 2: After you receive your I-20 for OPT, mail your OPT application to USCIS. If your application is approved, USCIS issues an EAD card that authorizes employment under OPT. This step in the process takes 10-12 weeks.

If you are thinking of applying for OPT and are not sure what to do, you will want to review the information and guidance on our website. Visit the links below:

If you still have questions after reading the above information, please visit ISSS Walk-In Advising Hours for additional guidance. Walk-In Advising Hours are Monday and Tuesday from 10am to 11:45am and Wednesday and Thursday from 1:30pm-3:30pm.

10. Health Insurance and OPT

If you are an international student applying for OPT, Health insurance coverage through HTH Worldwide Insurance Services is available for continued coverage only if you are currently covered by HTH Worldwide. If you are currently a RA, GA, or TA using the GSEU insurance, NYSHIP, then you must switch over to HTH Worldwide Insurance when you employee coverage expires if you wish to have coverage during your OPT period. Contact the insurance advisors at intl.insure@binghamton.edu for additional information and instructions on how to purchase HTH Worldwide Insurance while on OPT.

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Last Updated: 4/12/16