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Editor's Note: The ISSS Newsletter is distributed monthly. Please 'Like' us on Facebook to learn about programs, events, and additional information between monthly Newsletters. You can find our Facebook Page here. Please remember to click the page's "Following" button to receive post notifications.


1. Reminder of ISSS Availability

2. Together: International Student Support Group

3. Interactive Workshop - Stress: Friend or Foe?

4. Next International Coffee Hour: Friday, May 6

5. Update: New STEM OPT Regulations Effective May 10, 2016

6. Have You Submitted Your Practical Training Application Yet?

7. Bridging Academic to Careers Summer Class

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

9. ESL Classes for Fall 2016, Now ELI on BU Brain

10. Did You Receive A Grade of "Incomplete" in Fall 2015?

11. Registering for Less Than a Full Time Course Load for Fall 2016?

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


1. Reminder of ISSS Availability

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.  Please visit the ISSS Website for updates.

Special Notice Regarding ISSS Unavailability:

The ISSS will be unavailable on Wednesday, May 11 from 3:00pm to 5:00pm.  Please visit the ISSS website for additional updates regarding availability.

Shift to University Summer Hours:

On Monday, May 23, 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 19. On Monday, August 22, the ISSS will resume regular business hours, weekdays from 8:30am to 4:45pm.

2. Together: International Student Support Group

Discussion facilitator: Dr. Sangmoon Kim, staff psychologist at University Counseling Center

When: Tuesdays, 3:30-5:00p.m.

Where: ISSS Conference room, LSG 552 (Ground floor of Bartle Library building)

Hello international students at Binghamton University! You are warmly invited to the Together: International Student Support Group. You will meet fellow international students. Together aims to promote international students’ social interaction and sense of belonging as well as academic success. You can practice and enhance your English skills. We will meet every Tuesday; our next meeting is today, Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Weekly attendance is not required but recommended.  Please note that Tuesday, May 10 will be the final meeting of the Spring 2016 semester.  If you have any question about the Together, please email Dr. Sangmoon Kim.

3. Interactive Workshop - Stress: Friend or Foe?

Living a rich, dynamic and fulfilling life means learning and growing by seeking out and meeting life’s challenges. This one time, 90 minute workshop is designed to help participants better understand and enjoy the benefits of stress (e.g., increased motivation, improved concentration) while minimizing the negative impact that the stress response can have on our physical and emotional well-being. Specific stress management skills will be discussed and handouts will be provided.  All students are welcome!  Please note that space is limited. Please call (607) 777-2772 to reserve your seat!

Date: May 6, 2016

Time: 3:00pm to 4:30pm

Location: Old O’Connor Hall, Room 264 (University Counseling Center)

4. Next International Coffee Hour: Friday, May 6

Good company! Complementary refreshments! Relax by coming to this month's International Coffee Hour from 3:30-5 p.m. Friday, May 6, in the Mandela Room. This month's sponsor is the Division of Advancement. May 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 from 3:30-5 p.m. on the first Friday of every month during the academic year. All are welcome!

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

5. Update: New STEM OPT Regulations Effective May 10, 2016

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently published new regulations governing the F-1 STEM Optional Practical Training benefit. The new regulations that will govern the STEM OPT Extension become effective on May 10, 2016. The old regulations (17-Month OPT Extension) will end on May 10, 2016. As part of the new regulations, the STEM OPT benefit, if awarded, will change from 17 additional months of OPT to 24 additional months OPT, assuming the employment meets the criteria outlined by the regulations. You might be considered eligible for this extension if you meet all of the following eligibility requirements:

1. You are currently on Optional Practical Training

2. You graduated in a STEM field (as identified by the Department of Homeland Security)

3. You work for an E-Verify employer

The ISSS now has web pages summarizing the new regulations governing the STEM Optional Practical Training Extension. Please click here to fully review the eligibility requirements and what is now needed to submit a STEM OPT Extension application.  You will find the application checklist and related documents here.

6. Have You Submitted Your Practical Training Application Yet?

If you are in F-1 status and will be graduating in May 2016, and plan to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), you are reminded to file your application as soon as possible. The deadline for May 2016 graduates to apply for OPT is July 21, 2016 (60 days after your degree conferral date). Your application must reach USCIS before this date or you will lose your OPT eligibility.

Currently the USCIS Processing Centers are taking approximately 90 days to process EAD cards for OPT. The ISSS recommends that OPT applications are filed at least 90 days before your requested start date. Please remember, you cannot begin your employment until you have received your EAD card.

More information on how to apply for OPT can be found here. Please e-mail with any questions regarding OPT.

7. Bridging Academic to Careers Summer Class

Did you know that you can actually earn credit while you learn how to make important career decisions this summer break? Join professionals from the Fleishman Center in a two-credit online class, Bridging Academics to Careers (CDCI 200), to reflect on your career interests and learn how to position yourself in the global economy.

Bridging Academics to Careers: Opportunities in a Global Society (CDCI 200)

   *Learn how to make informed career decisions and set personal goals

   *Research hiring trends in your industries of interest

   *Identify your interests, values, goals, and abilities related to choosing a major and            career

   *Develop job positioning skills and self-marketing strategies for a global marketplace

   *Attend employer site visits at A&E Network and Mt. Sinai Hospital in NYC on June 22

   *Taught almost completely through Blackboard

   *2-credits and satisfies "W" requirement

Register for CDCI 200 on BU Brain today!

8. 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 or visit the employment section of the ISSS website.

9. ESL Classes for Fall 2016, Now ELI on BU Brain

The ESL Program is changing its name to the English Language Institute (ELI) for Fall 2016, and ESL classes are now listed as ELI classes on BU Brain.  If you have any questions, please contact Jennifer Brondell at 

10. Did You Receive A Grade of "Incomplete" in Fall 2015?

All students who received a grade of "incomplete" in the Fall 2015 semester have until the end of the Spring 2016 semester to turn in the required work.  If the Fall 2015 coursework is not completed, or if the professor does not submit a grade change form by the end of the Spring 2016 semester, the Incomplete will change to "W" or withdrawn for graduate students, and to "F" or failure for undergraduate students.

If the incomplete course was being counted towards a full-time course load, the W grade means that the course was not successfully completed, and will therefore drop the student from full-time to part-time. This may mean that the F-1 or J-1 student is in violation of U.S. immigration requirements. Students who find themselves in this situation should visit ISSS advising walk-in hours.

Students in F-1 and J-1 status who received an Incomplete grade in Fall 2015 are urged to check their Fall 2015 grades in BU Brain.  Students are also urged to contact 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."

11. Registering for Less Than a Full Time Course Load for Fall 2016?

Some students have already completed pre-registration for Fall 2016, 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.

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

Please remember the following as you celebrate your Spring 2016 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: 5/3/16