ISSS-BU NEWS FOR MONDAY, 04 May 2015


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CONTENTS:

  1. Reminder of ISSS Availability
  2. Assistance Available for the Recent Nepal Earthquake
  3. Leadership Volunteers Needed - Fall 2015 International Student Orientation
  4. Traveling soon?
  5. Planning to Work in the United States This Summer?
  6. Have You Submitted Your Practical Training Application Yet?
  7. Health Insurance and OPT
  8. Did You Receive A Grade of "Incomplete" in Fall 2014?
  9. Registering for Less Than a Full Time Course Load for Fall 2015?
  10. When it Comes to Alcohol: Don't Count On Luck

 1. Reminder of ISSS Availability

Standard Advising Walk-In Hours:

The office of International Student and Scholar Services holds walk-in advising hours on Mondays and Tuesdays from 10:00am to 11:45am and Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1:30pm to 3:30pm.

Shift to University Summer Hours:

On Monday, May 18, the ISSS will begin to operate on summer hours. This means that the office will be open on weekdays from 8:30am to 3:45pm until Friday, August 21. On Monday, August 24, the ISSS will resume regular business hours, weekdays from 8:30am to 4:45pm.

Special Notices regarding extended Walk-In Advising Hours:

The ISSS knows that this is a very busy time of year. To accommodate all of the needs of our students, the ISSS will hold additional Walk-In Advising Hours, on the dates and times noted below:

*Wednesday, May 6: 10:00am to 11:45am
*Thursday, May 7: 10:00am to 11:45am
*Friday, May 8: 10:00am to 11:45am
*Friday, May 15: 10:00am to 11:45am and 1:30pm to 3:30pm

Special Notice Regarding ISSS Unavailability:

The ISSS will be unavailable on the following dates/times:
*Thursday, May 7 from 9:00am to 10:00am;
*Friday, May 8 from 3:00pm to 5:00pm;
*Tuesday, May 19 from 12:00pm to 4:00pm.
*Monday, May 24 in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.

Thank you for your patience and please plan accordingly. Please visit the ISSS website for updates.

2. Assistance Available for the Recent Nepal Earthquake

The ISSS is aware of the recent earthquake that has struck Nepal and the surrounding areas. If you or your family have been personally impacted by this tragedy, please know that there are many trained professionals across campus who are willing and able to assist you. These offices include, yet not limited to, the University Counseling Center and the Dean of Students Office. The University is concerned about those who may have been affected, and wants to ensure that you have the support that you might need during this difficult time.

Should you be interested in fundraising opportunities related to the earthquake in Nepal, please contact Roji Gurung, a Graduate Student at Binghamton University.

3. 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.

4. Traveling soon?

All international students are reminded to check their most recent SEVIS I-20 or SEVIS DS-2019 to be sure they have an updated travel signature from the ISSS. If the travel signature (on the bottom of Page 3 of the I-20, or in the lower right hand section of Page 1 of the DS-2019) will be more than 12 months old when you return to the United States to resume classes in the Fall, come to the ISSS for an updated signature BEFORE you travel.

5. Planning to Work in the United States This Summer?

International students in F-1 or J-1 status are reminded that all off-campus employment must be authorized! This includes summer internships and other forms of off-campus employment. Do not jeopardize your non-immigrant status through unauthorized employment. If you have any questions, please come to the ISSS, send an email to the ISSS employment team at intl.work@binghamton.edu or visit the employment section of the ISSS website.

6. Have You Submitted Your Practical Training Application Yet?

International students in F-1 status who will be graduating in May 2015 and plan to apply for optional practical training are reminded to file their practical training applications well in advance of the date they would like practical training to begin. Remember there is a deadline for May graduates to apply! Your application must reach USCIS before July 16, 2015, or you will lose your eligibility for OPT.

Currently, the USCIS Processing Centers are taking approximately twelve weeks to process EAD cards for practical training. In general, the ISSS recommends that practical training applications be filed at least twelve weeks (three months) in advance of the requested starting date. Your application must be received by the USCIS Lockbox Facility no later than sixty days following your degree completion. However, remember that an application filed that late will take an additional 12 weeks to process, and you cannot be employed until you have the Employment Authorization Document in hand.

The OPT I-20 application may be found by clicking here. Please allow 7 to 10 days for ISSS processing. Questions? E-mail intl.work@binghamton.edu

7. 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.

8. Did You Receive A Grade of "Incomplete" in Fall 2014?

The Office of International Student and Scholar Services would like to remind international students of a potential problem for those in F-1 or J-1 status who do not complete in a timely manner the required work for a course for which they have been issued an "Incomplete" grade. For example, a student who receives a grade of "incomplete" in a graduate or undergraduate course for the Fall 2014 semester has until the end of the Spring 2015 semester to turn in the required work so that the professor can issue the appropriate final grade. However, if the Fall 2014 course work is not completed, or if the professor does not submit a grade change form, the Incomplete will change to "W" or withdrawn for graduate students, and to "F" or failure for undergraduate students following the Spring 2015 semester.

Now that the Spring 2015 semester is coming to an end, international students in F-1 and J-1 status who received one or more grades of Incomplete in Fall 2014 are urged to check their Fall 2014 grades in BU brain.

A grade change to "W" is very detrimental to any F-1 or J-1 graduate student, because if the course was being counted towards a full-time course load, the W grade means that the course was not completed successfully, dropping the student from full-time to part-time. Often, we find that the student has made arrangements with the faculty member to complete the work. In such cases, we strongly advise the student to check with the faculty member to see if the grade was submitted or if necessary, extend the deadline for the incomplete and have the grade changed back to "I."

A grade that remains "W," if it drops the graduate student below a full time course load, may mean that the F-1 or J-1 student is in violation of U.S. immigration requirements. Thus, some international students could suddenly find themselves in violation of their F-1 status based on a course taken as long as two semesters ago. Students who find themselves in this situation should visit ISSS advising walk-in hours.

9. Registering for Less Than a Full Time Course Load for Fall 2015?

Some students have already completed pre-registration for Fall 2015, others may delay signing up for courses until the regular registration period begins. Since all continuing F-1 students must comply with federal SEVIS regulations, we are reminding students of the rules governing taking less than a full-time course load.

U.S. Federal regulations governing F-1 status require that students pursue "a full course of study" that leads to the attainment of a specific educational or professional objective. For undergraduate students, a full course of study is defined as at least 12 semester credits per semester. For graduate students, Federal regulations defer to the school's definition of a full course of study.

SEVIS regulations require that F-1 students obtain permission from the Office of International Student and Scholar Services before dropping below a full-time course load. An F-1 student who drops below a full course of study without the prior approval of the Office of International Student and Scholar Services will be considered out of status.

One of the most common requests for a reduced course load is when a student is in their final semester of study, but needs less than a full time course load to graduate. The ISSS may authorize a reduced course load for this reason. If the reduction is authorized, the student must then be registered for those credits needed to complete the course of study.

The student must first obtain permission from the ISSS before dropping below a full-time course load. The appropriate form can be downloaded here. In addition, the student must also have filed a "declaration of candidacy form" (for graduate students) or an "application for undergraduate degree" (for undergraduate students), verifying the student's intention to graduate in that semester.

A note of warning: Students should be absolutely certain that they will be graduating in the current semester before choosing to register for less than a full-time course load. Failure to graduate after dropping below a full-time course load may result in the student being out-of-status, and the loss of F-1 benefits, unless it can be shown that the student is still making satisfactory progress towards their degree.

**Graduate students who have completed their course requirements and register for thesis, pre-dissertation research, dissertation, project, or other course rubrics that are eligible to be certified as full-time even though the number of credits will be below the normal full-time course load are not required to seek advance permission from the ISSS, and need NOT be concerned that they will violate their F-1 status if they do not graduate. However, such students who will register for less than 9 credits must have their departments add the appropriate number of non-billable certification credits to bring their schedule to 9 credits.

10. When it Comes to Alcohol: Don't Count On Luck

Please remember the following as you celebrate your Spring 2015 accomplishments:

  • You must be 21 years old to consume alcohol
  • It is prohibited to drink alcohol in public
  • Drinking and driving is illegal
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol can lead to legal and immigration troubles
  • You are not invincible

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Last Updated: 4/12/16