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Current ISO Student News

Issue 15: April 15, 2016

 

Table of Contents

  1. Upcoming Workshop: OPT STEM Extension - Tuesday, April 19 (more)
  2. Tax Forms Must be Postmarked by Monday, April 18! (more)
  3. Update on H-1B Cap & Cap-Gap Extension  (more)
  4. Summer 2016 Intensive ESL Program (more)
  5. RGC Spotlight: Red Wings Baseball Game & Stadium Tour - Sunday, April 23 (more)
  6. Campus Focus: Balinese Percussion Ensemble - Monday, April 25 (more)

 


Upcoming Workshop: OPT STEM Extension - Tuesday, April 19

On March 11, the government published a new Final Rule regarding the STEM Extension option for F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT).  The new rules will go into effect on May 10, 2016.  While the STEM Extension benefit will remain intact, there are several important changes that will take effect in May.  The ISO has created new forms, reporting tools, and pages to reflect the implications during this transition and beyond: F-1 OPT STEM Extensions.  We will update the website with a recording of the workshop and will continue to post new information online as it becomes available.

OPT STEM Extension
Tuesday, April 19 - 2:00 to 3:15 pm
Bausch & Lomb 109, River Campus

If you are a current F-1 international student who is eligible or will be eligible for an OPT STEM Extension, then this workshop is for you!  This workshop will cover the new OPT STEM Extension ruling which will take effect on May 10, 2016 including new application materials, length of STEM extension, information on eligibility requirements, and regulatory changes.

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Tax Forms Must be Postmarked by Monday, April 18!

Next Monday is Tax Day in the U.S.!  In order to avoid late fees or penalties, all required tax forms must be in the mail no later than Monday, April 18.  The Postal Service will likely hold extended hours on this day, to allow late filers to meet this deadline.  To find out which branches will offer extended hours, you can call them at (800) ASK-UPS, or 800-275-8777.

If you are unable to complete your tax return and mail it today, you may want to request an extension.  “Requesting an automatic extension” means you send the government a form that will automatically grant you an additional 6 months to file your tax form without penalty for filing late.  You should send a separate extension request to both the Internal Revenue Service for your federal taxes, and to New York or any other state where you earned money in 2015.  However, all extension requests must also be postmarked by April 18!  This automatically gives you until October 15 to file your completed tax forms with the IRS and the state(s).  While most students will not owe any additional money for taxes, any money that you do owe may be subject to interest charges.  Instructions to file for an extension are listed below.  You should keep a copy of each form and enclose a copy with your tax return when you do file.  Please see Issue 14 of ISO Student News (<-will hyperlink) for instructions about how to file for an extension.

Reminder: International students must be careful to file the appropriate tax forms depending on their tax status.  Most tax software programs assume that the filer is a U.S. citizen, Permanent Resident, or Resident Alien for tax purposes.  If you are a Non-Resident Alien for tax purposes, the GLACIER Tax Prep software will calculate your taxes and prepare the correct forms.  GLACIER Tax Prep is your best resource for guidance through the non-resident alien tax process, unless you prefer to pay for professional services or prepare the forms on your own.  You should not use TurboTax, or other similar software programs, unless you are a Resident Alien for tax purposes.  As a reminder, your GLACIER Tax Prep record determines your current tax status.  It is considered fraud to file tax forms that are not appropriate to your status.  If you are a non-resident alien for tax purposes who has used tax software other than GLACIER Tax Prep in error, please contact our GLACIER Tax Prep consultant (rosemarie.eskes@rochester.edu) for information about how to amend your tax returns.

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Update on H-1B Cap & Cap-Gap Extension

USCIS received about 236,000 H-1B petitions during this year's H-1B filing period, which began April 1.  Due to this high number of H-1B petitions received within the first week of the H-1B filing season, USCIS held a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select H-1B subject cases for processing on April 9.  USCIS will now proceed to reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees.  USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases no later than May 16, 2016.

Please note, an employer is the first to be notified of a successfully filed petition, via notice from USCIS.  This means that ISO is unable to verify a successfully filed H-1B petition for a student in SEVIS without first receiving a copy of the H-1B receipt notice.

If an H-1B petition has been successfully filed on your behalf, please be sure to inform the ISO by using the online H-1B Application Details & OPT Cap Gap Request form and submit a copy of your H-1B receipt to opt@iso.rochester.edu.  The filing of your H-1B petition may make you eligible for the cap-gap extension, which extends your OPT work authorization to the time when the H1-B will start on October 1.  Please see the ISO webpage about the Cap-Gap Extension for more information.

You can also find more information about the H1-B cap online.

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Summer 2016 Intensive ESL Program

The 2016 University of Rochester Summer Intensive English Program is offering an opportunity for students to practice and refine advanced practical English skills.  The program will concentrate on conversational speaking, pronunciation/accent reduction, pragmatics (cultural context and language), and classroom English.  The Summer Intensive English Program is unique in that it will offer a series of mini-sessions each with targeted language improvement goals.  The program may be taken on a full-time or part-time basis, depending on how many sections a participant chooses to take.  The full-time program consists of all sessions offered (listed below), or you may enroll in individual class sections.  This is an advanced level ESL program and a sufficient TOEFL score or in-person assessment is required before registering.  For F-1 and J-1 students on their annual vacation term or who are already maintaining full-time enrollment, these classes will not impact your immigration status.  For F-2 dependents and others without full-time study permissions, you may want to consult with ISO before completing registration.  Fees apply.  Additional information may be found online: www.rochester.edu/college/osp/summer/esl.

CAS 089A: American Culture and Communication for Speakers of English as a Second Language (ESL)
offered August 15-August 19, M-F, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm 
Description: This highly-interactive class is aimed at advanced speakers of English as a Second language and teaches strategies for navigating everyday work and life situations in culturally savvy and linguistically intelligible ways.  This class is designed  for professionals whose job involves extensive spoken interpersonal communication, such as medical practitioners and teaching assistants/instructors; linguistically and culturally challenging situations such as giving advice, relating disagreeable facts, making presentations, negotiating, networking, and interviewing for a job will be covered.

CAS 089B: Advanced Conversational English Grammar (for ESL speakers)
offered July 25-August 12, M-F, from 9:00 am to 10:15 am 
Description: This class is designed for speakers of English as a Second language who are already familiar with English grammar rules, but still struggle to use them when speaking.  This class will systematically review grammar rules and then provide students with conversational activities and intensive instructor feedback to help correct fossilized mistakes.

CAS 089C: English Pronunciation and Accent Reduction (for ESL speakers) 
offered July 25-August 12, M-F, from 10:15 am to 11:30 am 
Description: This class teaches the basics of how sounds are made with the mouth, and the “musical patterns” [prosody] of English.  Learners will have abundant, interactive opportunities to apply this knowledge to their own speech and become better understood by their listeners.

CAS 089D: Conversational English Skills (for ESL speakers)
offered July 25-August 12, M-F, from 11:45 am to 1:00 pm 
Description: In this practical and highly participatory course, students will take part in interactive discussions, role-plays, and debates.  Subsequent to the speaking activities, the instructor will offer an explanation of student mistakes and areas for improvement, thus helping students to identify and address areas of weaknesses.  This course is an excellent opportunity to improve English speaking and listening skills in a supportive and fun environment.

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RGC Spotlight: Red Wings Baseball Game & Stadium Tour - Saturday, April 23

Red Wings Baseball Game & Stadium Tour
Saturday, April 23
Frontier Field, 333 Plymouth Ave N

Save the date!  RGC will offer a behind-the-scenes tour of Frontier Field, followed by a Red Wings baseball game.   The tour will start at 12:00 noon and the baseball game will start at 1:30 PM.  If you do not need transportation, please plan on arriving at the Frontier Field (One Morrie Silver Way) a few minutes before 12:00 PM.  Register online: http://www.rochesterglobalconnections.org/events.html.  The ticket fee is $7.00.

Rochester Global Connections (RGC) is a community-based volunteer organization that provides services to international students and Department of State visitors in the Rochester area. The International Services Office (ISO) hosts RGC at the University of Rochester and co-sponsors most events and activities.  For more information about RGC, visit their website at www.rochesterglobalconnections.org.

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Campus Focus
: Balinese Percussion Ensemble - Monday, April 25

Balinese Percussion Ensemble
Monday - April 25, 8:00PM
Kilbourn Hall, Eastman School of Music

As part of the Eastman School of Music's World Music Concert Series, Eastman's Gamelan Lila Muni will perform a Balinese Percussion Ensemble.  "Founded in 1993, Gamelan Lila Muni (Heavenly Sound) is a Balinese gamelan angklung orchestra.  This kind of ensemble, one of more than 25 distinct types found on the island of Bali, is traditionally played only for ceremonial and ritual functions.  In the 20th century, newer styles of composition transferred into the gamelan angklung repertoire.  This ensemble now commonly plays a large variety of music ranging from traditional, ceremonial music to modern secular dances."  Tickets may be purchased in person at the Eastman Theatre Box Office, by phone (585-454-2100), or online.

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Editor: Lena Ovcharov, International Student Advisor