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Current ISO Student News

Issue 12: March 2, 2015



Table of Contents

  1. Spring Break Travel: Do you need a new Travel Signature from ISO? (more)
  2. Tax Updates and Reminders: Form 1099-G and Scams! (more)
  3. Academic Internships Workshop (3/27) & Work After Graduation Workshop (Now Online) (more)
  4. H-1B Employment Visa Filing in 2015: Advice from an Immigration Attorney (more)
  5. Become an International Student Mentor! Applications Due March 23 (more)
  6. RGC Spotlight Maple Sugar Tour and Pancake Brunch, March 28 - CANCELLED(more)
  7. Campus Focus: Pre-Mela Week & Annual Mela Celebration, March 16-21(more)

Spring Break Travel: Do you need a new travel signature from ISO?

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 2014 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 3rd or March 4th.  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. 

Also, please be advised: If you will be traveling outside of the U.S., you must carry with you your I-901 SEVIS Fee Receipt.  We have received reports that some students are experiencing delays when returning to the U.S. in cases where they do not have record of paying the SEVIS fee.  If you need to print a copy of your I-901 SEVIS Fee receipt, you may do so by providing your current SEVIS ID at  If you have paid the SEVIS fee but are not able to access this information online, please contact ISO well in advance of your travel plans.


Tax Updates and Reminders: Form 1099-G and Scams!

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 2013 and received a refund on your state taxes last year, this money should then be reported to the IRS on your 2014 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."  Please note, New York State will not mail Form 1099-G to report any tax refunds from 2013 NYS earnings.  Instead, you may find this information on a copy of your 2013 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 2014 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 - 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.


Academic Internships Workshop (3/27) & Work After Graduation Workshop (Now Online)

Academic Internships & CPT Application Procedures
Friday - March 27, 2015
2:00 to 3:00 pm
207 Schlegel Hall, River Campus

If you are a current international student who is interested in pursuing an internship, then this employment workshop is for you!  This workshop will cover various work authorizations available under current F-1 and J-1 regulations, along with alternative options for those with limited eligibility, which will allow students to pursue an internship opportunity during their program of study.  This workshop will also offer detailed guidance on applying for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). 

Immigration work permission for graduating students requires planning and preparation.  If you missed our recent "Work After Graduation & OPT Application Procedures" 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.


H-1B Employment Visa Filing in 2015: Advice from an Immigration Attorney

We would like to share some information with you regarding the H1-B Visa filing for 2015.  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 2016 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.

Please note: 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.


Become an International Student Mentor! Applications Due March 23 (Undergrads Only)

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 an International Student Mentor (ISM) 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 19 for training August 20-23.  More details are available in the application.  Applications must be received by Monday, March 23 at 5:00 pm.  Apply today!  You can find more information and application materials online.  If you have questions about this program, please email Michael Dedes at


RGC Spotlight
: Maple Sugar Tour and Pancake Brunch, March 28 - CANCELLED

Maple Sugar Tour and Pancake Brunch
Saturday, March 28 - 10:00 am to 12:30 pm
Cumming's Nature Center

Rochester Global Connections invites you to take a tour of Cumming's Nature Center and learn hands-on about how maple syrup is made, followed by a traditional pancake brunch!  The trip will include transportation, brunch, and activities.  If you prefer, you will also have the option to drive yourself and pay for breakfast there.  Information regarding reservation will be available soon.  Space is limited, so plan to make your reservation as soon as the form becomes available if you would like to participate!  For the most up-to-date notice regarding reservation for activities, you may subscribe to the RGC Newsletter.

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


Campus Focus
: Pre-Mela Week & Annual Mela Celebration, March 16-21

Pre-Mela Week is back again with lots of fun events that shall lead up to the celebrations of the 30th annual MELA celebration!

Pre-Mela Week
Monday, March 16 - 6:30PM to 8:30PM
Get beautiful Henna tattoos etched on your palm for $1.  Cash and flex accepted.

Tuesday, March 17 - 4:30PM to 6:30PM
If you haven't liked ADITI on Facebook, now would be a good time to do so because they are giving away free Starbucks coupons for Chai Tea from 4:30 - 6:30 pm if you like them on Facebook!

Wednesday, March 18 - 6:00PM to 8:00PM
Unleash the creative artist in you by learning how to make South Asian motifs and designs.  Art supplies shall be provided!

Thursday, March 19 - 2:00PM to 4:00PM
Come get FREE Pani Puri (you know you want to) alongside learning how to speak/write Hindi, so you can voice how much you liked the food in the language of the land of Pani Puri.

Friday, March 20 - 2:00PM to 4:00PM
Shake those hips and sway those bodies to some groovy Bollywood music as ADITI provides a dance workshop!  Feel free to stop by for as long or as little as you want!


Mela Celebration
Saturday, March 21 - 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.


Editor: Lena Ovcharov, International Student Advisor