Subject: To: International Students
From: Laszlo Mihaly
Date: Mon, 06 Nov 2006 15:57:58 -0500
To: "pagra-l@lists.sunysb.edu"

I am forwarding you some useful information I have found in the Fall 2006 Newsletter issued by International Programs.  It is a must to read for international students who want to travel or graduate in the near future.   --Laszlo

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                           Holiday Travel Plans?
If you are planning to return to your home country or travel outside of the United States during the winter break, you must obtain a travel signature on your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 to re-enter the United States. International Student Advisers will provide detailed travel information as well as travel signatures during the “Travel Series” portion of the walk-in workshops, and all students planning to travel must attend one of these workshops. Request a travel signature at least two weeks prior to your departure. Your travel signature request should include:
   Proof of “good standing”: Graduate Students must submit a letter of good standing (2 originals) from their Graduate Program Director.
      Undergraduate Students must submit an enrollment verification letter from the Registrar's office.
   Most recently issued Form I-20 or DS-2019;
   Your valid passport with your visa stamp and Form I-94 attached for review by an adviser. You must have a passport that is valid for at least six months after the date you enter or reenter the U.S.A.
   IMPORTANT NOTE: DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PASSPORT WITH YOUR TRAVEL SIGNATURE
   REQUEST IF YOU ARE DROPPING IT OFF TO PICK UP LATER.
We suggest obtaining the travel signature as soon as you make your airline reservation. The travel signature verifies that you are a full-time F-1 or J-1 student in good standing and are eligible to return to the US after travel outside of the US. For further details about travel please see: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/travel/faq_f2.htm#_Toc81222017.

If your F-1 or J-1 visa has expired or will expire prior to your return to the United States, you will need to apply for a new visa at a U.S.
Consulate outside of the U.S.A. Please refer to specific instructions and visa issuance times on the website for the particular consulate where you plan to apply for a visa. See
http://www.unitedstatesvisas.gov/obtainingvisa/index.html for details.         Be sure to allow sufficient time for processing your visa during the busy holiday season. Most U.S. Consulates overseas observe both U.S.A. and local holidays.

                            Changes of Address
IMPORTANT:  Immigration regulations require you to report changes of
address within 10 days of moving.  This address must be where you reside
and cannot be a post office box or departmental address.

F-1 students can report a change of address by logging into their SOLAR account and changing the LOCAL address type.

J-1 students/scholars must report all address changes to Nancy Lannak nlannak@notes.cc.sunysb.edu or Elsy Arieta-Padro epadro@notes.cc.sunysb.edu within 10 days of an address change.

If you completed your program and/or are engaged in F-1 OPT or J-1 academic training, you are still required to report changes of address within 10 days. It is your responsibility to keep International Services informed of your local residence to ensure that your SEVIS record is up-to-date.

F-1 and J-1 students who do not report their addresses within 10 days are out of status and ineligible for immigration benefits.

Failure to report a change of address to International Services within 10 days is a violation of F-1 or J-1 immigration status.

            Applying for F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an opportunity for F-1 students to gain practical experience in their field of study prior to returning to their home country. Students planning to complete their programs and graduate in December must file an OPT application with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) prior to the end of the fall semester.

An application is considered “filed” when USCIS receives the OPT application packet with all supporting documentation; the check for the application fee is cleared, and a “Receipt Notice” with a case number is issued to you. The deadline for receipt of OPT applications at USCIS for December graduates is Saturday, December 23, 2006. Be sure to mail your application early, to allow sufficient time to be “receipted in.” We recommend that you try to have your application delivered to USCIS no later than December 18th.

Students may begin employment after the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is in their possession but only during the period of validity indicated on the card.

Options for Receiving your Employment Authorization Document (EAD): (Many students move following their final semester before the EAD is received).

You may choose to have USCIS mail all related documents (Receipt Notice, Approval Notice, and EAD) to International Services.  An International Student Adviser will then notify you as soon as possible upon receipt of your EAD. Note that if you are given the Form I-765 by an adviser, it will already have the International Services address on it.  Please ensure that your correct email address, telephone number and local address is recorded in SOLAR and on your OPT application. It is your responsibility to follow up with our office and respond immediately when you receive notice from an adviser of the arrival of this important and time-sensitive document. When you visit the office to pick up your EAD, we will ask you to sign that you received your card. If you send a representative to collect it on your behalf, the representative must bring a letter signed by you authorizing the release of this very important document.

If you know where you will live after graduation, you may have your EAD sent to that address.

Please note that mail from USCIS cannot be forwarded by the post office. As per USCIS instructions, if your mail is undeliverable, the post office will send the EAD back to USCIS.

Important: While engaged in OPT, you are still recorded in SEVIS as a Stony Brook F-1 student so you are obligated to update your address with Stony Brook University within 10 days of moving. We are required to report all address changes to SEVIS while you are engaged in OPT. Failure to report a change of address is a violation of F-1 status.

Travel while on OPT F-1 student regulations require that students authorized for OPT with an EAD have either a job or job offer in their field of study in order to be readmitted to the United States after a temporary absence abroad (less than five months).  In addition to proof of employment and the EAD, you will also need a valid F-1 visa, Form I-20 with a valid travel signature, and a passport valid at least six months into the future. Do not leave the United States without proof of employment if you have completed your degree requirements and plan to begin OPT upon return to the U.S.  Travel is strongly discouraged while the OPT application is pending with USCIS.

              International Student “Walk-in Workshop” Series
International Services is offering a series of informative walk-in workshops throughout the semester. Those planning to apply for OPT or CPT are required to attend a workshop before submitting an application.


OPT Workshops: F-1 students who wish to work to gain practical experience in their field of study in the U.S. either before or after graduation may submit applications for processing immediately following the workshop. All applications for December graduates must be completed and submitted to our  office by the end of business on December 4.


 Tuesday, Nov. 7, 11 –12 p.m.
 Tuesday, Nov. 28, 1 –2 p.m.
 Wireless Seminar Room, 2311 Computer Science building


CPT Workshops for F-1 students in programs that require internships for academic credit.


 Thursday, Nov. 9, 11 – 12 p.m.
 Thursday, Nov. 30, 2 – 3 p.m.
 Wireless Seminar Room, 2311 Computer Science building


 Travel Signature Dates
 All F-1 students and J-1 Exchange Visitors who wish to travel must attend one of the meetings below.  Graduate students should bring letters of good  standing from the department. Undergraduates should bring enrollment verification letters.


 Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2 – 4 p.m.
 Friday, Nov. 17, 2 – 4 p.m.
 Monday, Nov. 20 2 – 4 p.m.
 Friday, Dec. 15, 2 – 4 p.m.
 Monday, Dec. 18, 2 – 4 p.m.
 Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2 – 4 p.m.
 Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2– 4 p.m.
 Thursday, Dec. 21, 2 – 4 p.m.
 Graduate  School Conference Room

           A Note About International Services Processing Times…
Many times students and scholars ask why we require lead time for processing requests that may seem simple, such as a travel signature. When giving a travel signature, a Designated School Official or Alternate Responsible Officer is verifying under penalty of perjury that you have in valid immigration status and are making satisfactory progress toward your degree requirements. In reviewing the University and SEVIS records, we occasionally encounter problems or discrepancies that must be resolved prior to proceeding with your application, so additional time may be required to resolve problems. We encourage you to apply as early as possible to meet critical deadlines for obtaining benefits.

                         Study and Research Abroad
Students conducting degree-related research abroad and students in an approved study abroad program, may continue their “active” SEVIS records without restarting as an “initial” status student, provided arrangements are made with an International Student Adviser prior to departure. F-1 Regulations state that if you are outside the U.S.A. for more than 5 months you will need to reenter the U.S. with a new “initial” Form I-20.  After reentry with an “initial” form, you will be eligible for practical training only after you have been in F-1 status for a full academic year. The exception is if you engaged in an approved study or research abroad.

Doctoral students who have advanced to candidacy will register for 701 Dissertation Research off campus. To remain “active” in SEVIS while conducting research or study abroad you must apply for an updated Form I-20 with the following annotations written in the Remarks section: “Student pursuing a full course of study while engaging in an authorized study abroad or authorized research abroad.”  You are also required to register with International Academic Programs and details are available at http://www.stonybrook.edu/studyabroad/apply/ITP_Forms_Complete.doc. PLEASE NOTE: Choosing to go home for personal reasons and continue with dissertation work while at home does not constitute “official” research
abroad.

            Graduate Students Advanced to Candidacy: G5 Status
Please note that full-time registration for G5 students is 9 credits NOT 6 credits. The final day to register for Spring 2007 semester is on February 2, 2007 at the end of the drop/add period. All F-1 and J-1 students must be registered full-time in order to maintain valid immigration status.


                         Graduating This Semester?
If you are graduating this semester and do not plan to apply for F-1 OPT or J-1 Academic Training please complete a departure record in order for us to close your SEVIS record.

F-1 students are allowed 60 days to depart the United States after completing a program of study.

J-1 students are allowed 30 days to depart the U.S.

If you are not departing the U.S., but will change your immigration status and remain, we will also need to complete your SEVIS record when the change of status is approved. Please use the departure record to let us know your plans, and then follow up when the change of status is approved.

December graduates may not be employed on campus after December 23, 2006 unless OPT or a change of status has been approved.

The departure record form is available on Blackboard, in the office, and at http://www.grad.stonybrook.edu/International-old/DEPARTURE%20RECORD.doc


             CONGRATULATIONS and Best Wishes to Our Graduates!

                          International Services
                            The Graduate School
                           2401 Computer Science
                        Stony Brook, NY 11794-4433
             Email: InternationalServices@notes.cc.sunysb.edu
                         Telephone: (631)632-INTL
                            Fax: (631)632-7243
                    www.grad.sunysb.edu/international .
-- 
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Laszlo Mihaly
Graduate Program Director
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Stony Brook University
631 632-8279
laszlo.mihaly@sunysb.edu
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