Current ISO Student News
Issue 12: March 3, 2014
Table of Contents
- Spring Break Travel: Do you need a new Travel Signature from ISO? (more)
- Tax Updates and Reminders: Workshop Online, Form 1099-G, and Scams (more)
- "Work After Graduation" Workshop video recording is now online! (more)
- H-1B Employment Visa Filing in 2014: Advice from an Immigration Attorney (more)
- Become an International Student Mentor! Applications Due March 31 (more)
- RGC Spotlight: Hike at Letchworth State Park – April 5, Save the Date! (more)
- Campus Focus: Annual Mela Celebration – Saturday, March 29 (more)
As spring break and other vacation periods are coming up, many students begin planning trips home or other visits outside of Rochester. If you plan to travel, please check that the travel or validation signature on your I-20 (page 3) or DS-2019 (page 1) is up-to-date. While these signatures are valid for one calendar year, the ISO recommends that students have a signature from the current academic year when planning to cross the U.S. border. Therefore, if you intend to travel overseas during the coming months and have not had your document signed during the fall term (August 2013 or later), we recommend that you visit the ISO to request a travel signature.
*Please note, the ISO will NOT hold walk-in hours at the Eastman School during spring break. If you are an Eastman student who needs a new travel signature before spring break, please plan to come by ESM 506 during walk-in hours on March 4th or March 5th. You may also visit River Campus, where ISO holds walk-in hours from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday. The ISO at River Campus will remain open during spring break.
Are you planning to take a cruise over spring break?
If you plan to take a cruise, please be sure that you have permission to enter all the countries included in the cruise itinerary. You may be prevented from boarding the ship if you have not obtained any required visas.
Please be sure you also have permission to re-enter the U.S. upon the conclusion of your cruise trip. F-1 and J-1 students are often allowed to re-enter the U.S. with an expired visa stamp after a short trip to Canada, Mexico, or some nearby island nations. The Department of State refers to this program as Automatic Revalidation. Citizens of Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria are not eligible for this program. Under Automatic Revalidation, re-entry with an expired visa is permitted ONLY when 1) travel is limited to eligible countries, and 2) the trip is shorter than 30 days. The complete list of eligible countries includes: Canada, Mexico, The Bahamas; Barbados; Bermuda; Dominican Republic; Haiti; Jamaica; Martinique; St. Pierre & Miquelon; Trinidad; Leeward Islands [Anguilla, Antigua, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Kitts, and the British Virgin Islands]; Windward Islands [Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent]; Other British, French, or Dutch territories or possessions, in or bordering the Caribbean Sea.
If the trip includes travel to other countries or exceeds a total of 30 days, you must make arrangements to renew your visa before your return.
Please visit ISO's webpage on taxes for guidance regarding your tax reporting requirements for this tax filing season. To assist foreign nationals in understanding their tax requirements, the ISO has posted a video of our 2013 GLACIER Tax Prep workshop. The video provides information on U.S. taxes, international tax treaties, along with demonstration and guidance on how to use GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP) to complete your forms. Since this information and process have not changed substantially in the past year, ISO will not be scheduling any GTP workshops for 2014. Please refer to our video recording for this material, or schedule an appointment with our GTP Consultant for further assistance.
Please note, New York State will not mail Form 1099-G to report any tax refunds from 2012 NYS earnings. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service considers all income sources for tax reporting purposes, which can include a refund of state withholdings from the previous year. For example, if you earned income in New York during 2012 and received a refund on your state taxes last year, this money should then be reported to the IRS on your 2013 Federal Income Tax filing. States have the option to report this overpayment/refund on a Form 1099-G and GLACIER Tax Prep will prompt you to enter this information under "Other Income." However, New York does not issue a paper copy of this form. Instead, you may find this information on a copy of your 2012 NYS tax return or by using the online service. If you took the Standard Deduction on last year's federal (IRS) forms, you do not need to put this information in GLACIER because your 2013 state tax refund would not be taxable. This applies to citizens of India (due to their tax treaty), as well as Resident Aliens for Tax Purposes who are past their dual-status year.
Warning: Be aware of financial scams! Tax season can be stressful and confusing, especially if you do not know or understand exactly what is required. Some people will try to take advantage of this confusion and may attempt to gain access to your personal and financial information for harmful purposes. The two scams outlined below are very common, though there may be others. If you are uncertain, please ask first! When necessary, the U.S. government will only contact you in writing by regular mail. Additionally, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), GLACIER or GLACIER Tax Prep software programs, and University offices will NEVER ask you to disclose your SSN/ITIN or other personal identification information by email!
Refund E-Mail Scam: There are several variations of the refund scam, in which an e-mail claiming to come from the IRS falsely informs the recipient that he or she is eligible for a tax refund for a specific amount. The bogus e-mail instructs the recipient to click on a link to access a refund claim form. The form requests personal information that the scammers can use to access the e-mail recipient’s bank or credit card account. This notification is fraudulent! The IRS does not send unsolicited e-mail about tax account matters to taxpayers. Filing a tax return is the only way to apply for a tax refund; there is no separate application form. Taxpayers who wish to find out if they are due a refund from their last annual tax return filing may use the “Where’s My Refund” link at www.irs.gov - the only official IRS Web site.
Substitute Form 1040 Fax Scam: This scam consists of a cover letter and form that are faxed, rather than e-mailed. The cover letter is addressed “Dear Valued Tax Payer (sic)” and appears to be signed by an IRS employee. The letter says that the IRS is updating its files and that recipients who supply the requested information will receive a nominal tax refund. It also states that those who fail to immediately return the completed form risk additional tax and withholding. The attached form is labeled a substitute Form 1040 and is titled “Certificate of Current Status of Beneficial Owner For United States Tax Recertification & Withholding.” It requests a large amount of detailed personal and financial information, such as mother’s maiden name (often used in security screening), bank account numbers, estimated assets and more. It asks the recipient to sign and fax back the completed form, as well as a copy of the recipient’s driver’s license and passport. The letter, signature and form are all fraudulent! Moreover, the IRS does not send unsolicited faxes to taxpayers and does not request such detailed personal and financial information.
Immigration work permission for graduating students requires planning and preparation. If you missed our recent "Work After Graduation: Available Permissions & Common Transitions" employment workshop for upcoming graduating students, please visit ISO's Event Archives to view presentation materials including a video recording of the workshop! This workshop, for international students from all UR academic divisions, both graduate and undergraduate, offers a detailed discussion of F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT), J-1 Academic Training, and transitions to the H-1B Temporary Worker visa category. This workshop also addresses common travel concerns and questions.
We would like to share some information with you regarding the H1-B Visa filing for 2014. Currently, there is an expectation that the quota will be satisfied very quickly this year. If you are currently working on OPT that will expire before April 2015 and you would like to continue working through next year, it is important that your employer begin preparations now to file the H-1B petition. If you are graduating this May or June, it is likely that the H-1B may no longer be available at the time you become eligible; however, you will have the same time next year to have an employer file the H-1B petition for you. For more information, please read this important message from an immigration attorney.
Gain leadership and mentoring experience while having a ton of fun and making new friends! The College is looking for some very special students to serve as mentors for a group of 10-15 incoming international students. Mentors will provide the personal attention and guidance required for new international students to successfully transition to UR and U.S. life. Responsibilities range from posting on Facebook, answering emails over the summer, assisting with international student move-in day activities, accompanying students on a shopping trip, organizing group outings through the Fall semester, and generally being a friend and role model! Please only apply if you are able to return to campus on August 21 for training August 22-24. More details are available in the application. Applications must be received by Monday, March 31 at 5:00 pm. Apply today! You can find more information and application materials online. If you have questions about this program, please email Molly Jolliff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Letchworth State Park Hike
Saturday, April 5
Letchworth State Park is known as the Grand Canyon of the East, and offers many scenic views and waterfalls. Stay tuned for more information about RGC's trip to this beautiful park!
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 all events and activities. For more information about RGC, visit their website at www.rochesterglobalconnections.org.
Saturday, March 29 - 4:00PM to 6:00PM
Strong Auditorium, River Campus
Mela is an annual show organized by UR's Association for the Development of Interest in the Indian Subcontinent (ADITI). This event is always very popular and well-attended! Enjoy a unique and entertaining show that highlights the cultural diversity of South Asia. The event will feature a variety of performances by student groups and members of the Rochester community, including the University's own Bhangra and Raas teams. Tickets will be sold at the Common Market in Wilson Commons and at the door.
Editor: Lena Ovcharov, International Student Advisor