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ISSS-BU News 30 January 2012 ISSS-BU News


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

Visit ISSS on the Web!   http://isss.binghamton.edu

Editor’s Note: Many international students have begun to receive their W-2 forms (Wage and Tax Statement) from their employers for the 2011 tax year, along with other documents from their banks, etc. The ISSS will be announcing the availability of Glacier Tax Prep (formerly CINTAX), free income tax preparation software, within the next ten days.

Today is the first day of classes for the Spring 2012 semester. ISSS-BU News wishes all our subscribers a successful Spring semester.

Have you moved recently? International students and scholars in F or J status can fulfill their federal SEVIS requirements by reporting their change of address using the ISSS’s web form:

http://saffairs.binghamton.edu/isss/webforms/changeofaddress/

Student address changes will then be updated in the University’s database, as well as in SEVIS.

Today’s issue is longer than usual. Scroll the CONTENTS index first to identify articles of interest to you.

CONTENTS:
1. National Holidays for February
2. Spring Semester 2012 Academic Calendar
3. Confirm Your Enrollment for Spring 2012 by February 3
4. Next International Coffee Hour is Friday, February 3
5. Information for Late-Arriving New International Students
6. Did You Travel Abroad During Break?
7. Need to Have Your Spring 2012 Health Insurance Fee Adjusted?
8. Are You Maintaining a Full Time Course Load?
9. Be Sure You Have Permission in Advance to Take Less Than a Full-Time Course Load, If Applicable to You
10. Join Toastmasters To Practice and Improve Your English Speaking Skills
11. Spring 2012 Job and Internship Fair Coming February 9, 2012
12. Add/Drop Deadline is February 10
13. Spring 2012 International Spouses Program (ISP) English as a Second Language Classes
14. 2012 Orientation Advisor Applications Now Available
15. "Tschaikowski", St. Petersburg State Orchestra to Perform February 14
16. February 22 Deadline for Faculty-Student Scholarship Program Applications
17. Income Tax Information: Incorrectly Withheld Social Security and Medicare Tax

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. Spring Semester 2012 Academic Calendar
To view the official academic calendar for Spring 2012, please go to the following link:
http://www2.binghamton.edu/about/pdfs/f11s12.pdf

3. Confirm Your Enrollment for Spring 2012
Remember to Confirm your Enrollment for Spring 2012! Students who have registered for the Spring 2012 semester but do not confirm their enrollment by 4:00pm on Friday, February 3 will have their registration cancelled. To confirm your enrollment, go to http://bubrain.binghamton.edu and log in. If you have not yet confirmed enrollment, you will see the following message in a green box at the top of the Home tab: "Click Here to Confirm Enrollment for [semester] or your courses will be dropped on [date] whether or not you've paid your semester bill."

Be sure to follow the step-by-step instructions at this link to confirm your enrollment:

http://www2.binghamton.edu/registrar/students/course-registration/confirmation-enrollment.html

4. Next International Coffee Hour is Friday, February 3
Good company! Free food! An opportunity to visit with friends and classmates!

This month's International Coffee Hour will be held on Friday, February 3 from 3:30-5:00pm in Old Union Hall in the University Union. This is a great occasion for all international students, both new and continuing, to enjoy food and beverages in a relaxing atmosphere.

The 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. Each coffee hour has free hot and cold beverages, breads and cookies, sponsored by a different department on campus.

The sponsor of this month's International Coffee Hour is the Office of Residential Life.

5. Information for Late-Arriving New International Students
Although classes begin Monday, January 30, not all new international students have checked in with the Office of International Student and Scholar Services, and some are still arriving. If you are assisting new students, be sure to bring them to the office of International Student and Scholar Services so that ISSS can photocopy their passport and visa documents and give them their orientation packet.

6. Did You Travel Abroad During Break?
Many continuing international students were able to travel abroad during the inter-session break. If you obtained a new visa while you were away or entered the United States using a new I-20 or DS-2019, please come to the Office of International Student and Scholar Services with your passport and visa documents so we can make copies for your files.

7. Need to Have Your Spring 2012 Health Insurance Fee Adjusted?
Please note that there is a April 1 deadline for requesting an International Health Insurance Waiver or an adjustment for the Spring 2012 semester. To file a waiver or adjustment request go to: http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/health-insurance/waiverinfo.html. Filing a request does not guarantee a wavier or adjustment. You must either be a graduate assistant (G.A.), Teaching Assistant (T.A) or Research Assistant (R.A.) funded through Binghamton University and enrolled in employee health insurance, OR meet the standards for comparable coverage outlined on the ISSS Health Insurance web page located through the above link.

If you have questions about the International Student Health Insurance, please contact the International Health Insurance Team at intl.insure@binghamton.edu

8. Are You Maintaining a Full Time Course Load?
ISSS would like to take this opportunity to remind students in F-1 and J-1 status that you are required to be registered for a full-time course load each semester. What constitutes a full-time course load varies according to academic level.

Academic Level Minimum Full Time Course Load:
Exchange Students 12 credits per semester
Undergraduates 12 credits per semester
Graduate Master's: completion of less than 24 credits in your program (Class G1) 12 credits per semester
Graduate Master's: Completion of 24 credits or over in your program (Class G2) 9 credits per semester
Graduate Master’s students who are course completed and need only project or thesis to complete program 1 credit or more per semester, plus additional non-billable credits added by your department for full-time certification at 9 credits
Graduate PhD students: Master’s done and have begun doctorate (Class G3) 9 credits per semester
Graduate PhD students: Course completed or advanced to candidacy and engaged in pre-dissertation or dissertation research (Class G4) 1 credit or more per semester, plus additional non-billable credits added by your department for full-time certification at 9 credits

Special Note for Graduate Students: Graduate students (both master's and PhD) who are course-completed and register 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 will be below the normal full-time course load do not need special permission from the ISSS for a reduced course load. Instead, such students must visit there academic department and request to have sufficient non-billable certification credits added to their schedule to bring them to nine credits total. This new procedure replaces the Graduate School's "Certification of Full-Time Working Towards Degree Status For Students Not Receiving Funding” OR “Certification of Full-Time Working Towards Degree Status Funded Students Only”.

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.

There are some very limited exceptions to the full-time course requirement. See the next article, below. For complete information on full-time registration, stop by the ISSS to obtain a handout on Rules for Maintaining a Full-Time Course Load, or view the handout on the ISSS website at:

http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/immigration/ruleftload.html

9. Be Sure You Have Permission in Advance to Take Less Than a Full-Time Course Load, If Applicable to You
There are very few exceptions to the full time course load rule for students in F-1 status. Those exceptions include academic difficulty, medical condition, and completion of study, and there are strict criteria for each. In every instance, you must obtain PRIOR authorization from the ISSS. Only once you receive this authorization from the ISSS can you then drop the course. A 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, and must be reported in SEVIS as having dropped below a full-time course load without authorization.

There is a special form for each of the three exceptions, available in the ISSS and as a downloadable document on the ISSS website: http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/essential-forms/index.html

Each form must be completed by the student (and in the case of reduction in course load due to academic difficulty or due to completion of study, completed by the student’s academic advisor) and approved by the ISSS before the course may be dropped.

For detailed information on the rules that allow for a course load reduction for F-1 students, stop by the ISSS to obtain a handout on “Permissible Reasons Under F-1 Regulations to Register for Less Than a Full Time Course Load” or view the handout on the ISSS website at:

http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/immigration/lesscourse.html

Questions or concerns regarding this requirement? Come to the ISSS or send an e-mail message to isss@binghamton.edu

10. Join Toastmasters To Practice and Improve Your English Speaking Skills
Confidence. The ability to communicate, persuade and lead. The skill to tell one’s story, shape better tomorrows and point others in the same direction. These are the attributes of leaders, and not all leaders are born with talent. They learn it, and so can you. We are prepared to equip a new generation of success-oriented students with the practical communication and leadership skills necessary to improve their confidence and achieve their goals. Join Thrill Speakers Toastmasters Club---Where leaders are made. We hold our meetings on Mondays at 7:30pm in Old University Union Room 124.

For more information, contact Jon Calhoun, President of the Binghamton University Chapter of Toastmasters International Sartre08@yahoo.com

There are Toastmasters Clubs throughout the world, and there are 8 in the Binghamton area alone! To learn more, visit their website: http://www.toastmasters.org/

11. Spring 2012 Job and Internship Fair Coming February 9, 2012
The Spring 2012 Job and Internship Fair will take place Thursday, February 9, 2012 from 11:00am to 3:30pm in the Events Center. There will be an OCCT Shuttle from the UU Bus Stop to the West Gym from 11:00am to 3:00pm.

Bring copies of your resume and dress professionally!

For more information, visit http://binghamton.experience.com/stu/cf_details?fhnd=5392

International students in F-1 or J-1 status are reminded that all off-campus employment, including internships, must be authorized before employment can begin. Questions? Come to the ISSS or send an e-mail message to intl.work@binghamton.edu Representatives of the ISSS will also be at the Job and Internship Fair.

12. Add/Drop Deadline is February 10
Students are reminded that Friday, February 10, is the add/drop course deadline. Changes to students’ course schedules must be made on-line on BU-Brain by 11:59 p.m. to avoid a withdrawal (“W”) on their transcript. Students who make changes after the deadline will also be required to pay a $20 late add/drop fee per class payable to Student Accounts.

13. Spring 2012 International Spouses Program (ISP) English as a Second Language Classes
These are non-credit bearing classes for spouses of BU international students, faculty and staff. BU Research Scholars are welcome to join as well. These classes are NOT intended for current BU students. The focus is to practice conversation, reading, grammar skills and daily living in the United States. Classes begin on Monday, January 30, 2012, but students are welcomed at any time

Two classes and a Discussion Group are offered this semester at the following times:

Basic Conversational English (Beginner- Pre-Intermediate):

Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:45pm to 4:15pm in Science Library Room 311. Begins Monday, January 30.

Intermediate-Advanced English

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:45pm to 3:15pm in Academic Building B Room 125. Begins Tuesday, January 31.

Discussion Group

Open to all levels of English and native English Speakers

Every Friday from 9:00am to 10:30am in the International Conference Room, Hinman Commons Room 120B. Stop by the ISSS for directions. Begins Friday, February 3.

A $5.00 fee per semester per student is requested towards the copying of materials (no need to purchase a textbook for these classes). The instructor will collect this fee.

Our ESL instructor is Ms. Myriam Stanton-Zenunaj. Myriam has many years experience teaching English overseas and ESL here in the United States. This is her third year as our ISP ESL instructor.

If you have any questions about these ESL classes, please contact the instructor at mstanton@binghamton.edu

14. "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 http://anderson.binghamton.edu

15. 2012 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 2012? 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 General interest meetings will be held from 5-6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, and from 3-4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, in UUW-325. Applications are due by Wednesday, Feb. 22. For more information about the process, visit the web link above or stop into our office in the C4-101 (Chenango Champlain Collegiate Center).

16. February 22 Deadline for Faculty-Student Scholarship Program Applications
Faculty and staff are asked to remind students that the deadline to apply for the 2012-2013 Faculty-Student Scholarship Program is Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012. Applicants must be juniors, seniors or graduate students during the 2012-13 academic year, and have a 3.2 cumulative GPA. Recipients will earn $3,200 working 10 hours per week during the fall and spring semester in one of the following on-campus sites/positions: Alumni Relations Office (Alumni Relations assistant); Career Development Center (writing and marketing); Center for Civic Engagement (community project development); Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (marketing); English as a Second Language Program and the Writing Initiative (video, multimedia, marketing); Institute for Child Development (community child development assistant); Office of International Student and Scholar Services (international student success intern); Office of Student Affairs Assessment and Strategic Initiatives (research and assessment); Media and Public Relations (video and multimedia specialist); Services for Students with Disabilities (adaptive technology). Details and application available at http://www2.binghamton.edu/financial-aid/types-of-aid/scholarships/index.html

17. Income Tax Issues: Incorrectly Withheld Social Security and Medicare Tax
We would like to remind our readers that during tax season, each issue of ISSS-BU News contains an article on U.S. income tax. To reference previous articles, go to the ISSS web site and select from the back issues of ISSS-BU News (the first income tax article appeared in the November 29, 2010 issue). You will find them at:

http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/isss-bu-news/2010/index.html

Today's income tax article is about incorrectly withheld Social Security (FICA) and Medicare Tax from earnings (wages), and how to get the money refunded to you.

Different kinds of taxes are withheld by employers. The W-2 form (Wage and Tax Statement) sent to you by your employer each January has boxes for reporting withholding of Federal Income Tax (box 2), Social Security Tax (box 4), Medicare Tax (box 6), State Income Tax (box 17) and local income tax (box 19). This article focuses on box 4 and box 6.

F-1 and J-1 students who have been in the U.S. in this status for 5 years or less (2007 or later), and J-1 scholars in the U.S. in this status for 2 years or less (2010 or later) who have been employed ON CAMPUS are exempt from Social Security and Medicare Tax (boxes 4 and 6). F-1 and J-1 students who worked off campus with the appropriate work authorization (economic hardship employment or practical training) are also exempt from these two taxes. However, F-1and J-1 students in the U.S. in this status for more than five years, J-2 dependents, J-1 scholars and faculty in the U.S. for more than two years, those in other non-immigrant statuses, and those who worked without authorization ARE subject to Social Security (FICA) and Medicare Tax.

If you are an F-1 or J-1 student who thinks that Social Security and/or Medicare Taxes were withheld from your pay incorrectly, because you were in the U.S. in this status for less than five years and had appropriate work authorization, then U.S. federal regulation requires that you contact the employer who issued you the W-2 and inform them of the error, AND ask that they refund you the money. If the employer cannot or will not issue the refund, there is a special procedure you can use to obtain a refund of Social Security and Medicare Tax. This procedure is entirely separate from filing your income tax forms.

Come to the ISSS for the special handout "Procedures for Claiming Refund of Social Security Tax." It includes two special IRS forms, Form 843 and Form 8316. This document is also available on line at: http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/taxes/procfica.html You will be required to show on the forms that you attempted to contact your employer first. You will also be required to attach copies of your work authorization, a copy of your I-94 card, and a copy of your W-2 form. It all gets mailed to the IRS office in Austin, Texas. You should keep copies of everything you send and allow from eight to ten weeks for processing.

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Last Updated: 4/10/12