ISSS-BU News 13 February 2012 ISSS-BU News

An electronic news service for international students and scholars, owned by the Office of International Student and Scholar Services at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

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Editor’s Note: Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! Next Monday, February 20 will be Presidents Day in the United States, a federal holiday. Banks and Post Offices will be closed. BU classes will not be in session and most University offices will re-open on Tuesday, February 21.

The Office of International Student and Scholar Services hopes to open access to Glacier Tax Prep (formerly CINTAX), later this week. Glacier Tax Prep is the income tax preparation software for filing your federal tax forms. E-mail messages will be sent out once Glacier is available.

The ISSS will soon receive its supply of income tax forms. However, if you are using Glacier Tax Prep, it will print all the necessary Federal forms. New York State tax forms for non residents can be accessed on line at this link: You are urged not to attempt to file the New York State income tax forms until the New York State Income Tax webcasts are posted, which will be in two weeks. The tax webcasts will take you line-by-line through each of the three required New York State forms.


1. International Health Insurance ID Cards and Insurance Information
2. International Student Grant-In-Aid Applications are Now Available
3. Additional Sources of Financial Assistance for BU International Students
4. Applying for Off-Campus Employment Due to Economic Hardship If You Are In F-1 Status
5. "Tschaikowski", St. Petersburg State Orchestra to Perform February 14
6. Free Performance by the Sichuan University Art Troupe of China on February 16
7. Faculty of Color Speakers Panel Thursday, February 16
8. Applications Now Being Accepted For English Conversation Pairs!
9. Two Campus Support Groups Seek New Members
10. Undergraduate Admissions Seeks Tour Guides
11. Hertz On Demand Car Rentals Welcomes You Back!
12. Planning to Travel During Spring Break? Thinking About Taking a Cruise?
13. Understanding Your International Student Health Insurance
14. This Week’s Campus and Community Connections Newsletter
15. I Keep Receiving E-mail Messages Titled “Part-Time Job Opportunity.” Can I Do It?


1. International Health Insurance ID Cards and Insurance Information

BU international students enrolled in the University’s mandatory international health insurance plan for the Spring 2012 semester should have received an email message to their email accounts on Friday, September 10, 2012 from enrollment@HTH The subject line of the message was: SUNY-Your Health Insurance ID Card.

Please open the email message if you have not already done so, make note of the certificate number assigned to you, and follow instructions to go the website and access and print your health insurance ID card.

The only international students who would not have received an email message on February 10 are:

  • Those who asked to be issued ID cards earlier this semester due to medical appointments or other needs
  • Those who have an approved waiver or adjustment of insurance coverage (generally due to comparable coverage, or having insurance as a funded graduate student employee, or because they are currently in their home country).
  • Those having an issue with their email account

Sometimes, students have trouble accessing their insurance id cards, even when following the instructions in the HTH email. If you have a problem/question about your insurance ID card, please contact the ISSS health insurance team at or come to health insurance walk-in hours Tuesdays from 10:15am to Noon.

For the Spring 2012 semester, your insurance dates back to 15 January 2012. The cost of the SUNY International Student Health and Accident Insurance is included in your tuition bill (INT’L. INS.).

For further information, please visit the “Health Insurance section of the ISSS webpage, Review How to Use Your International Student Health Insurance. If you need to locate a doctor or health care facility, review Finding a Participating Doctor or Hospital.

If you have questions about your health insurance coverage, or about a billing for services you receive from a doctor’s office or hospital, request an appointment with Terry Creeden, the International Health Insurance Coordinator by calling or visiting the ISSS office for an appointment, 607-777-2510. Terry and Lorraine Medionte, the International Health Insurance Assistant, also have walk in hours every Tuesday from 10:15am until 12 Noon. You may e-mail Terry and Lorraine at

2. International Student Grant-In-Aid Applications Are Now Available

Each semester, awards of up to $500 are made to a small number of international students who have a severe financial need. To be eligible, students must be in F-1 or J-1 status, have been in attendance at Binghamton University at least one year (began their studies at Binghamton University in Spring 2011 or earlier), document need, have no outstanding obligations to the university, and be full-time students in good standing.

Some students may find themselves in financial difficulty through no fault of their own. Examples can include reduced support from a sponsor, or unanticipated expenses. Applicants are strongly advised to carefully document their financial situation when submitting the application form, as there are always more students seeking assistance than there are funds.

Students with outstanding balances in their student account with the University should note that based on BU policy, any scholarship award will first be applied towards the balance on their student bill. Applications are available now in the Office of International Student and Scholar Services and must be submitted no later than Wednesday, February 29, 2012.

3. Additional Sources of Financial Assistance for BU International Students

Are you familiar with the fact sheet that the Office of International Student and Scholar Services has prepared that summarizes various sources of financial assistance for BU international students? Copies are available in the ISSS, or you can read the fact sheet on line at:

4. Applying for Off-Campus Employment Due to Economic Hardship If You Are In F-1 Status

The fact sheet on financial assistance mentioned in the previous article includes information on “Off-Campus Employment Due to Economic Hardship.” This is an employment benefit available to F-1 students based on an application filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Here is a brief summary of the benefit and the requirements:

  • Part time off-campus employment during the school year (full-time in summers or vacation periods), valid for any kind of work in any of the fifty U.S. states
  • Student must be currently in F-1 status, registered full-time and has been full time as an F-1 for two consecutive semesters at the time of application
  • $380 filing fee (currently) and takes 90 days to process
  • Valid for one year if approved, can be renewed

Take Note! There is a significant level of documentation that USCIS requires for this application, including:

  • provide evidence of economic hardship based on unforeseen circumstances beyond your control
  • demonstrate that on-campus employment is either unavailable or insufficient to meet your needs.
  • written evidence that supports any claim of a change in your financial circumstances
  • a listing of your current assets, expenses and income, including receipts, bills and bank statements to support what you submit
  • an outline of the departures from, and arrivals to, the United States that you have made since your initial arrival, including dates and reasons for each trip, as well as the cost

The regulations require that students make a good faith effort to locate employment on campus before applying for employment authorization based on economic hardship.

The regulations offer examples of unforeseen circumstances which may cause economic hardship, including:

· the loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student

· substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rates

· inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs

· unexpected changes in the financial condition of a student's sponsor

· medical bills

· or other substantial and unexpected expenses.

For more information, visit

Now that it is February, students who have been in F-1 status for at least two complete consecutive semesters and who are interested in applying for this benefit will want to file their applications this month so that they will receive their Employment Authorization Cards from USCIS in May, in time for Summer employment. These applications must first be reviewed and processed through the ISSS.

F-1 students who believe that they meet the requirements for this employment benefit and who can furnish the detailed documentation that is required to apply are encouraged to contact the ISSS to schedule an appointment with Ms. Karen Keefe-Guzikowski, Associate Director. Questions? Send your email message to

5. Tschaikowski", St. Petersburg State Orchestra to Perform on February 14

The "Tschaikowski", St. Petersburg State Orchestra, with Roman Leontiev, Music Director and Chief Conductor will perform at the Anderson Center Osterhout Theatre On Tuesday, February 14 at 8:00pm. The program includes:

Richard Wagner Prelude and Liebestod from the Opera Tristan und Isolde
Fryderyk Chopin Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21 (Alexander Pirozhenki, pianist)
Gustav Mahler Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp minor

Ticket prices: Students, $21; BU Faculty & Staff, $36; Seniors, $36; General public, $41 (Discounted tickets for groups of ten or more). For tickets and information, call 607- 777-ARTS or order on-line

6. Free Performance by the Sichuan University Art Troupe of China on February 16

The Sichuan University Art Troupe of China is coming to Binghamton University on Thursday, February 16 for a free performance of Dance, Sichuan Opera “Face Changing,” Instruments and Songs
The performance will be held in the Anderson Center Chamber Hall at 7:00pm.
Sponsored by the Confucius Institute of Chinese Opera and Confucius Institute Headquarters
For more information, visit:

7. Faculty of Color Speakers Panel Thursday, February 16

The BU Multicultural Resource Center is sponsoring its first Faculty of Color Panel, Thursday February 16, 2012 at 5:00pm in Old Union Hall.
Students will meet faculty of color, get tips on how to succeed in and out of the classroom, and learn how to build student – faculty relationships. There will be a Q&A portion as well.
Refreshments will be served.

8. Applications Now Being Accepted for English Conversation Pairs!

If you are like many Binghamton University ESL students, you may find that, for a variety of reasons, you have few opportunities outside of class to hear English being spoken and to speak it yourself. This lack of opportunities to practice English may slow down your learning of the language and perhaps prevent you from doing your best work in your courses. What can you do about this situation? One answer is to participate in the English Conversation Pairs Program.

In this program, a native English speaker and a non-native English speaker will join to form a conversation pair. Each pair will meet together approximately once a week, perhaps over lunch. These meetings will give the non-native speakers opportunities to practice spoken English and to ask questions about puzzling aspects of the language and American culture. In return, the native speakers will get a valuable chance to learn more about a culture different from their own.

There will be one organizational meeting Thursday February 23rd at 4:45 in the Old University Union Room 111, where you will meet your partner. After that, each pair will decide when and where they will meet. If you join this program, you should be committed to spending one hour a week in conversation with your partner, even if you are busy. You should also plan to call your partner sometimes to arrange your meetings; don’t let your partner do all the work!

To fill out an application online visit

If you have any questions about this survey please contact the English Conversation Pairs Director Shannon Hilliker-VanStrander at

Applications are due by Friday February 17th!

9. Two Campus Support Groups Seek New Members

Bereavement Group -- Wednesdays 3:30 to 4:45pm

A support group for students who are dealing with loss is now open for new members. Grief support groups provide a venue for sharing feelings, and helps one find meaning through companionship and understanding from others. Call the University Counseling Center and ask for a group screening with Sefali Bhutwala, PhD. For more information, call the University Counseling Center at 607-777-2772 or email Sefali Bhutwala at

International Students Support Group Forming: For International and Internationally-minded Students (Date/time to be determined)

This new group, Called “Cultures and Conversations” welcomes students who would like to discuss their experiences at BU as international students and who are looking forward to meeting new friends. We are a welcoming and inclusive group that aims to promote feelings of connection and belonging and welcome those who are “international at heart.” We will explore typical issues that international students encounter: homesickness, loneliness, academic stress, language and communication difficulties. We will also explore issues of identity, connection, and belonging. Time and place for meetings will be announced, based on students’ schedules. For more information, call the University Counseling Center at 607-777-2772 or email Sefali Bhutwala at

10. Undergraduate Admissions Seeks Tour Guides

Think you know everything about Binghamton? Do have enormous school spirit? Do you want to share your amazing experiences made at Binghamton University with prospective students? Want to be awesome? Apply to be a tour guide! Applications are available at the Undergraduate Admissions Office Front Desk of Academic A and are due back there at 5 p.m. Friday, March 2. If you have any questions, please, feel free to contact

11. Hertz On Demand Car Rentals Welcomes You Back!

Planning a last-minute road trip out of town for the weekend? Don't have a car? If you are a member of Hertz on Demand, you can rent a car whenever you want! We have three cars located right here on campus. But remember, you need to be a member before you can rent! Not sure if you'll ever rent a car? No problem! It is free to join; you only pay when you make a reservation. Better safe than sorry! Become a member today by going to Also, "like" our Facebook page: to stay up to date on all Hertz on Demand promos!

12. Planning to Travel During Spring Break? Thinking About Taking a Cruise?

The ISSS has just updated its Spring Break travel information on the ISSS website, and you can view it at this link:

Planning to take a cruise? Read the essential information international students need to know here:

13. Understanding Your International Student Health Insurance

The international health insurance team has developed a PowerPoint presentation to help you better understand your health insurance. The presentation is used during international student orientation and is very well received. To view the presentation, visit the Health Insurance web pages at:
Or click on this direct link.

Do you have questions about your international health insurance? Please contact the ISSS health insurance team at

14. This Week’s Campus and Community Connections Newsletter

The latest Campus and Community Connections newsletter has been posted at:

The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) publishes Campus and Community Connections to provide BU students with information on ways to participate in activities both on campus and in the local community, including:

* Upcoming Campus & Community Events

* Volunteer & Service Opportunities

* Internships (Credit & Non-Credit)

* Community-Based Research Project

Previous newsletters are archived at:

For more information on the Center for Civic Engagement, visit

15. I Keep Receiving E-mail Messages Titled “Part-Time Job Opportunity.” Can I Do It?

Have you received an e-mail that is similar to the one below?

“Dear Student,

We offer the opportunity for home workers, nationwide to perform entry-level assignments. Our company is committed to providing quality, professional services to our clients.

We seek honest, self - motivated people with a desire to work in the home typing and data entry field area. The preferred applicants should be at least 18 years old. No experience is needed. Average weekly earnings start at $1000 to $3000 in the first couple weeks and increases as you continue to work with our agency.

You will not have to devote full time hours. These assignments can be done on your time. They may be done in Internet cafes or where ever you can get Internet access.

If you are interested in making money using your computer at home or at school just reply to my email!”

Work from home job postings are everywhere. There are listings for data entry jobs, research positions, multi-level marketing opportunities, and a variety of other ways to make a lot of money fast. In fact, there are so many of them that work at home schemes are on the (U.S.) National Consumers League's list of Top 10 Frauds.

Most work-at-home jobs don't guarantee regular, salaried employment. Many neglect to mention that you have to work many hours without pay. Others require that you spend your own money for products or instructions before finding out how the offer works. And the "work" may entail getting others to sign up for the same job--which continues the fraud. Work-at-home scams have cost victims thousands of dollars.

For international students, “working from home” even if the opportunity was from a legitimate company, requires prior authorization. Since federal regulations governing F-1 and J-1 students only permit employment if certain criteria are met, the vast majority of F-1 and J-1 students cannot accept employment that involves “work-at-home.”

If you have a question whether or not a job opportunity is legal, always contact the international employment team at the Office of International Student and Scholar Services, .

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Last Updated: 4/12/16