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ISSS-BU News 04 February 2013 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: Sunday, February 10 is Spring Festival, also known as Chinese New Year. The holiday is celebrated in many Asian countries. This is the year of the snake. The ISSS wishes all students celebrating a very happy New Year!

Did you attend the New Student Welcome dinner on Thursday, January 24? Pictures from that dinner are now on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.555524571125949.128099.211721465506263&type=3

There have been a number of questions asked in the ISSS regarding income taxes. Within the next 7-10 days, the Office of International Student and Scholar Services will open access to Glacier Tax Prep, the web-based income tax preparation software for filing your federal tax forms as non-residents. E-mail messages will be sent as soon as Glacier Tax Prep is available. There will also be an announcement once income tax forms are available in the ISSS. However, if you will use Glacier Tax Prep, it will print all the necessary Federal forms. The ISSS will also offer a series of on-line webcasts on income tax preparation. Those will become available later this month. At the present time, the ISSS does not know if it will be able to provide walk-in assistance, as the person who has provided this service in the past is no longer available. For more information on tax filing, read today’s income tax article, below.

CONTENTS:
1. National Holidays for February
2. Full-Time Certification Procedure for Graduate Students Registered for Thesis, Project, Pre- Dissertation or Dissertation Research
3. International Student Grant-In-Aid Applications Available Beginning February 6
4. Emergency Alert Messages
5. Have a Question for the ISSS? Use These E-mail Addresses to Get the Answers!
6. Courses Canceled for Students Who Failed to Confirm Enrollment
7. How to Find a Job in the United States: Workshop for International Students, Wednesday February 6
8. MRC Cultural Organizations FairThursday, February 7
9. English Conversation Pairs (For Non-native Speakers of English) Applications Due February 8
10. Come Enjoy A Grammy-Worthy Afternoon With Nominee, Louciana Souza on Sunday, February 10 And Pay What You Want
11. 2013 Orientation Advisor Applications Now Available
12. Do You Know the Rules for Off Campus Employment?
13. When Should I Apply for OPT?
14. Has Your Binghamton-Issued I-20 or DS-2019 Been Lost, Stolen or Damaged?
15. Web Links for Foreign Embassies and Consulates in the United States
16. Information for Japanese-English Bilingual Students
17. Income Tax Information: Upcoming Income Tax Webcasts

1. National Holidays for February

The following countries are celebrating national holidays during the month of February

Country Date
Sri Lanka 4-Feb
New Zealand 6-Feb
Grenada 7-Feb
Iran 11-Feb
Lithuania 16-Feb
Gambia 18-Feb
USA 20-Feb
St. Lucia 22-Feb
Brunei Darussalam 23-Feb
Guyana 23-Feb
Estonia 24-Feb
Kuwait 25-Feb
Dominican Republic 27-Feb

2. Full-Time Certification Procedure for Graduate Students Registered for Thesis, Project, Pre-Dissertation or Dissertation Research

Are you a graduate student (master's or PhD) who is registered for thesis, project, pre-dissertation, dissertation or other course rubrics that are eligible to be certified as full time even though the number of credits is below the normal full-time graduate course load of 9 credits for advanced graduate students? Then you must visit your academic department and request to have sufficient non-billable certification credits added to your schedule to bring them to nine credits total.

A graduate student who can be considered as “full-time” with fewer than 9 credits (such as a student taking thesis or dissertation credit) should still show as 9 credits in BU Brain because additional credits of GRAD 700 (if not funded) or GRAD 701 (if funded) will be added by the student’s department to bring the student to 9 credits.

3. International Student Grant-In-Aid Applications Available Beginning February 6

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 2012 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 Thursday, February 28, 2013.

4. Emergency Alert Messages

Do you want to know when classes are cancelled, or if there is an emergency condition on campus or in the community? The RAVE Emergency Alert System is used to alert you of campus emergencies: including fire, weather and police emergencies. You can have messages sent to your mobile phone and to your email account. All students are urged to register with RAVE.

To learn more about RAVE, visit:
http://www2.binghamton.edu/registrar/students/rave.html

To register for RAVE and set up your account, visit:
https://www.getrave.com/login/binghamton

5. Have a Question for the ISSS? Use These E-mail Addresses to Get the Answers!

The Office of International Student and Scholar Services offers students five dedicated email accounts to answer questions. The addresses are:

Health Insurance: intl.insure@binghamton.edu
Employment: intl.work@binghamton.edu
Extensions of Stay: intl.extend@binghamton.edu
Visas & Travel: intl.travel@binghamton.edu
All other inquiries: isss@binghamton.edu

6. Courses Canceled for Students Who Failed to Confirm Enrollment

On Friday, February 1, students (graduate and undergraduate) who did not confirm their enrollment via BU BRAIN had their spring 2013 course registration canceled. Students may wish to check BU-Brain to be sure your registration is still in order. Students whose courses were dropped will need to re-enroll. Students may only re-register online for courses that have open seats. If a course is closed, the student will need to petition with the department and/or instructor to be added.

7. How to Find a Job in the United States: Workshop for International Students, Wednesday February 6

Finding a job in the United States for an international student takes much more than talent and a strong desire; it takes a great deal of time, energy, effort, and a little bit of luck. Come learn how to best prepare for your internship or job search in the United States on Wednesday February 6, from 5:50pm – 6:50pm in University Union Room 111.

This presentation is sponsored by the Career Development Center.

8. MRC Cultural Organizations Fair Thursday, February 7

The MRC Cultural Organizations Fair will be held on Thursday, February 7th in Old Union Hall from 1pm to 4 pm.

The goals of the fair are:

The fair is free and open to all BU students. Food and a DJ will be provided along with some prizes and giveaways. More than thirty cultural student organizations have signed up to participate.

9. English Conversation Pairs (For Non-native Speakers of English) Applications Due February 8

If you’re like many Binghamton University international 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 Tuesday, February 12th at 4:45 in the 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 https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RL5PD9C

If you have any questions about this survey please contact the English Conversation Pairs Director Shannon Hilliker at hilliker@binghamton.edu
Applications are due by Friday February 8th!

10. Come Enjoy A Grammy-Worthy Afternoon With Nominee, Louciana Souza on Sunday, February 10 And Pay What You Want

The Anderson Center for the Performing Arts is excited to present 2013 Grammy nominee, Luciana Souza and jazz guitarist, Romero Lubambo in Brazilian Duos on Sunday, February 10, at 3 pm in Watters Theater. And we are equally excited to offer for the first time ever, a “pay what you wish” opportunity.

Souza has been nominated for a Grammy four times for best jazz vocals. She currently has two albums nominated for a Grammy. “The Book of Chet” in the Best Jazz Vocal category and “Duos III” in the Best Latin Jazz category.

Romero Lubambo is a gifted guitarist whose unique sound unites the style and rhythms of his Brazilian heritage with the American jazz tradition. According to critics, Lubambo is one of the “best practioners of his craft in the world today.”

The “pay what you wish” special pricing is simply that. Pay anything from $1 to the regular price. (General public, $20; Senior, $15; BU Faculty & Staff, $15; students, $10). Seats are reserved but the “pay what you wish” is only available by calling the box office at 607-777-ARTS. This offer is not available on-line.

So come enjoy a cold winter afternoon at the Anderson Center with hot Brazilian jazz when Luciana Souza and Romero Lubambo join forces in Brazilian Duos on Sunday, February 10.

11. 2013 Orientation Advisor Applications Now Available

Are you interested in making a difference in the lives of students and their families? Are you looking for a leadership opportunity for the summer of 2013? Then apply to be an Orientation Advisor! Applications are now available on the New Student Programs website at http://www2.binghamton.edu/orientation/staff/selection.html. Applications are due by Friday, Feb. 22. For more information about the process, visit the web link above, send an email to orientation@binghamton.edu or stop into the New Student Programs office in the C4 Room 101 (Chenango Champlain Collegiate Center). The phone number is 607-777-4986.

12. Do You Know the Rules for Off-Campus Employment?

Federal regulations exact heavy penalties for those students in F and J status who work off campus without authorization. The ISSS reminds all F and J students that all off-campus employment must be authorized before it can begin. This includes internships, curricular practical training (CPT), and other types of off-campus experiences, whether or not you are receiving college credit for it.

To work off-campus without the appropriate authorization is considered illegal employment according to federal immigration law and is a potentially deportable offense. SEVIS regulations require that all unauthorized employment be reported. So, now more than ever, it's essential for international students to understand the off-campus employment rules that pertain to them.

Special Note: International students who are employed off-campus as part of a cooperative arrangement with their BU academic department AND are paid by either the State or SUNY Research Foundation payroll under the terms of a GA or RA stipend are considered to be authorized for this employment. The SPIR program is an example of this kind of cooperative arrangement.

Definition:
"The term employee means an individual who provides services or labor for an employer for wages or other remuneration." 8 CFR 274a.1(f)

Remuneration means something is given to you because you provided a service. It can be a paycheck, a bonus payment, a stipend, or it can be meal vouchers, room and board, or payment of your travel costs. Any of these would be considered to be employment under federal regulations. Simply put, if you receive anything for providing a service you are employed.

Volunteering is defined as engaging in an activity that anyone (US citizen or citizen of another country) would engage in without expectation of compensation, monetary or otherwise, for the service provided.

Complete information on all of the different employment categories for F and J students can be found by visiting the ISSS website at http://isss.binghamton.edu and clicking on "employment." If you are unsure if an activity would be considered employment, ask the ISSS by sending an email message to intl.work@binghamton.edu !! And, view one of our employment webcasts: http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/employment/empWebinar.html

13. When should I apply for OPT?

Do you plan to begin working on Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) on May 19th, immediately after graduation? Then you should submit your OPT Academic Advisor's Recommendation Form to the ISSS the week of February 11th to be sure you receive your EAD card in time.

It can take ISSS up to ten days to process your new I-20 for OPT. Then it takes on average of twelve weeks for USCIS to process your OPT application and issue your EAD card. You cannot begin working until the EAD card is in your hand and the start date has occurred.

If you haven't seen it already, please view our OPT webcast: http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/employment/empWebinar.html

All necessary forms and further information about OPT is on our website: <href="#opt">http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/employment/index.html#opt Or, pick up an OPT packet at the ISSS office.

If you have a quick question about OPT or would like ISSS staff to review your OPT application before you mail it, please come to the Employment Walk-In Hours: every Wednesday from 1:30pm - 3:15pm at the ISSS Office.

If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to send an e-mail message to intl.work@binghamton.edu or make an appointment with Shawna Szabo or Emily Love by calling (607) 777-2510.

14. Has Your Binghamton-Issued I-20 or DS-2019 Been Lost, Stolen or Damaged?

Things can happen to paper I-20s or DS-2019s. They can be lost, stolen or damaged.

A Binghamton-issued I-20 or DS-2019 that is lost, stolen or damaged can be readily replaced in the ISSS at no cost. It is essential to have the I-20 (or DS-2019), along with your passport, with you when you travel, even for domestic travel within the United States or New York State.

15. Web Links for Foreign Embassies and Consulates in the United States

Do you need to contact your home country’s Embassy or Consulate here in the United States? Do you need to contact another country’s Embassy or Consulate here in the United States? These useful links will help you. The home page of the embassy generally includes contact information, and links to the consulates.

Link to Foreign Embassies in the United States
http://www.state.gov/s/cpr/rls/dpl/32122.htm

For students from Taiwan:
Link to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Offices in the United States:
http://www.taiwanembassy.org/us/mp.asp?mp=12 (in Washington, D.C.)
http://www.taipei.org/ (in New York City)

16. Information for Japanese-English Bilingual Students

DISCO International, organizer of the largest job fair for Japanese-English bilingual students, invites you to the New York Career Forum:
[Date] Feb. 22 & 23 (Fri. & Sat.)
[Place] The Altman Building (New York, NY)
[Info] http://www.careerforum.net/event/ny/?ref=201322&lang=E

- Anyone who is bilingual in English and Japanese can attend
- No fee to register or attend
- Meet & interview face-to-face with companies
- Travel scholarships available. Deadline is Feb. 7th.

For the complete list of participating companies:
http://www.careerforum.net/event/ny/comlist.asp?ref=201322&lang=E

*This will be the last Career Forum for the academic year. The next Career Forum after New York will be held in the summer.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at cfn@careerforum.net.
We look forward to seeing you at the Career Forum.

CareerForum.Net
DISCO International, Inc.
cfn@careerforum.net

Like us on Facebook!
http://www.facebook.com/CareerForum.Net
Follow us on Twitter!
http://twitter.com/CFNtweet

17. Income Tax Information: Upcoming Income Tax Webcasts

U.S. income tax law is very confusing (even more confusing than immigration law!). This is why the Office of International Student and Scholar Services has purchased the Glacier Tax Prep software for use by international students and scholars. With the availability of Glacier Tax Prep, the focus of the tax webcasts will include an overview of income tax law, tips for using Glacier Tax Prep and instructions on how to file New York State tax forms. The webcasts will not address filing federal income tax forms, because Glacier Tax Prep helps prepare those forms for you. Then, all you need do is mail them. If you plan to view the income tax webcasts on New York State tax filings, it’s important for you to have already filled out your federal income tax forms using Glacier Tax Prep, and have a copy of your completed federal forms in hand.

Webcasts will be ready within the next two weeks. This will be the seventh year that the ISSS is offering its series of income tax webcasts via the ISSS website. The on-line format is a great help for current and former students because you can view the webcasts at a time convenient for you.

The webcasts will be for F and J students who have been in the United States in F or J status 5 years or less (since 2008 or later). Students who were employed during the 2012 calendar year should have received a W-2 Form (Wage and Tax Statement) from their employer(s). By law, employers must send out W-2 forms to their employees no later than January 31. If you had more than one employer, you should receive a W-2 form from each. These forms are usually in three or four parts. One copy is for the employee, one copy is filed with the U.S. federal tax return, and one copy is filed with certain state tax returns.

The W-2 form contains very important information that you will need when you prepare your income tax forms.

International students and scholars in F and J status must file income tax forms each year, even those who were not employed.

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Last Updated: 2/4/13