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Student Information

Services for International Students
The International Program Office is located in Parenzo Hall room 130 and offers a range of services for international students who are in the United States on a visa.  These services include facilitating the admission process, providing pre-arrival information, academic advising, personal concerns, immigration advising, student life activities, and cultural adjustment. The program also provides orientation for F-1 students and other visa students.

The International Program staff warmly invites you to visit us. The International Student Advisor (PDSO Primary Designated School Official) is available Monday through Thursday from 8:00 am. to 4:00 pm.  Remember that our office is always available to assist you while you are here.  We wish you success as you continue your education and life long learning in the U.S.

If you have any questions, please contact the International Program Office at (413) 572-8834.


ACADEMIC INFORMATION
Westfield State offers a range of traditional liberal arts and contemporary professional-track programs. There are 23 undergraduate majors, 60 different concentrations, and many options for minors. Current popular majors are business, communication, criminal justice, education, and psychology. The Division of Graduate and Continuing Education offers full and part-time programs leading to bachelor's degrees, post-baccalaureate Teacher Certification, and also master's degrees in education, criminal justice, and psychology, English and public administration. You can also pursue a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) in education through the Division of Graduate and Continuing Education.

Please see our current course bulletin for degree requirements and general information about academic programs and policies or at http://catalog.westfield.ma.edu/

Immigration law requires that F-1 students be enrolled in full-time status: 12 credits/semester, which is typically four courses.

Classes are usually assigned credits (1-4) based upon the number of hours they meet per week. To earn a degree from Westfield State University, students must take a certain number of classes and earn a certain number of credits with passing grades.


FINANCES
International students must show that they have adequate financial resources available to maintain full-time student status by completing the following:

  • Submit a certified bank letter showing a sufficient amount in the account to cover tuition and fees
  • Bank statement in the applicant’s or sponsor’s name
  • A scholarship award letter from a foundation, agency or government
  • A letter from an individual sponsor indicating the intention to provide support for the specified amount and which is accompanied by a bank statement showing the ability to do so.

Financial support documents described above must not be more than 90 days old.

 ESTIMATED EXPENSES FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS (F-1)

ACADEMIC YEAR – 2017-2018

                                                            Tuition & Fees            $14,696

                                                            Room & Board           $9,615

                                                            Health Insurance        $2711

                                                            Books & Supplies       $1200

                                                           TOTAL:                      $28,221

                            ESTIMATED EXPENSES FOR EXCHANGE STUDENTS (J-1)

ACADEMIC YEAR – 2017 - 2018

                                                            Room & Board           $9,615

                                                            Health Insurance        $2711

                                                            Books & Supplies       $1200

                                                            TOTAL                       $13,526

Please note that Massachusetts State Law requires that all full time students participate in a Health Insurance plan.


FINANCIAL AID
International Students are not eligible for U.S. Federal aid such as Stafford Loans or Plus Loans. However, there may be other sources of funding if you are an international student coming into the U.S. to study, so check with the U.S. embassy in your home country. For instance, Saudi Arabia launched a program that provides full scholarships to over 10,000 Saudi students studying in the USA. Investigate this option thoroughly before your leave. Bear in mind when you are applying for aid from your home country that there may be some stipulations involved. For example, you may have to return home to your country once you have graduated.

There are several international organizations, such as the Fulbright Commission, who grant aid to student all over the world. Other such organizations that offer aid are:

The United Nations
AMIDEAST
World Council of Churches
World Health Organization

Many of these organizations require you to be in your home country when you apply, so plan ahead, as they can be very competitive.

Careful long- and short- tem planning is necessary to ensure that you will have a rewarding educational experience in the United States. If you are realistic about your financial needs, you will be better able to enjoy the exciting academic and cultural experience of living and learning in the United States.

Other Sources of Financial Aid
Students may wish to visit the following web sites for information on financial aid, scholarships and student loans from other institutions.


HEALTH INSURANCE
Massachusetts law requires all full-time students to have health insurance that meets specified minimum standards. The Westfield State University Student Health Insurance Plan has coverage that meets these standards. Students who have comparable health and hospital insurance may be able to waive the college insurance if the insurance meets two important requirements: 1) coverage must meet the Massachusetts minimum standards, and 2) the insurance must cover you while you are in the US. “Coverage by insurance carriers outside the U.S. and coverage by foreign national health service programs are deemed not to be comparable to coverage under a qualifying health insurance program.” 114.6 CMR 3.04(3)(c).

If a student has health insurance through another American based company, they must provide their card or proof of such WHEN THEY REGISTER FOR CLASS. Otherwise, they will be charged for the health insurance offered by Westfield State University.

If you have specific questions about your health insurance coverage, please contact the insurance company- University Health Plans, Inc. One Batterymarch Park Quincy, MA 02169 1-800-437-6448, Web:http://www.universityhealthplans.com Email: info@universityhealthplans.com.


KEYS TO MAINTAINING YOUR LEGAL STATUS
As an international student you must abide by the following rules in order to maintain your status:

  •  Possess a passport that is valid at all times.
  • Attend the school/institution you were authorized to attend.
  • Be registered full-time (12 credits per semester) during the fall and spring academic semesters. You are not required to enroll in classes during the summer semester.
  • Maintain good academic standing as per College policy and making normal progress towards completing your program of study.
  • Follow appropriate procedures to notify USCIS (U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services) if you transfer schools or if you change from one educational level to another.
  • File for a Program Extension in a timely manner if you must remain in the U.S. longer than the time estimated for completion of your program as stated on your I-20.
  • Check your documents to be sure they are in order before leaving the U.S., even for a brief trip, and be sure to have the proper documents to re-enter the U.S.
  • Working without the proper authorization is a serious violation of your F-1 Status. It is your responsibility to comply with all applicable USCIS regulations. Therefore, do not assume that you are automatically eligible to work. Consult with your advisor before accepting any employment.
  • Obtain proper authorization before engaging in any off-campus employment whether the employment is paid or non-paid. Please remember that working without proper authorization constitutes illegal employment, an offense that can lead to deportation.
  • Limit on-campus employment or any authorized off-campus employment to a total of 20 hours per week during the academic semester.
  • Refrain from any on-campus employment if/while you are out-of-status.
  • File for Reinstatement in a timely manner if you have fallen out-of-status.
  • Report promptly any change of address to USCIS.

For further clarification about any of the above, or if you wish to make sure you are maintaining legal status in accordance with your visa classification, please contact Vera Vlasenko by phone (413) 572-8834 or e-mail at vvlasenko@westfield.ma.edu


IMMIGRATION ADVISING
The International Student Advisor provides advice, information and services related to your student visa and immigration status in the United States. The role of the advisor /PDSO is to assist you in maintaining your legal status. 

The ISA is available on a walk-in basis or by scheduled appointment. You can make an appointment by calling (413) 572-8834.


EMPLOYMENT REGULATIONS FOR F-1 VISA STUDENTS
F-1 students may work on campus provided that they:

  • are maintaining legal F-1 status,
  • do not work more than a total of 20 hours per week (including any off-campus work you may have been authorized to perform) during academic terms, and 40 hours per week during breaks and holidays.

You may be employed full time during holidays and vacation periods, including summer vacations, provided you are eligible and intend to register for the next school term. The 20-hour-per-week limit on your employment while school is in session applies to all types of on-campus employment.

Other "On-Campus" Employment

Work performed on your school's grounds is "on-campus employment" as long as the employer provides direct services to students. Employment in your school bookstore or cafeteria, both of which provide direct services to students, is acceptable even if a private, commercial firm operates the bookstore or cafeteria. Working for a construction company that is raising a campus building is not acceptable since the construction company does not provide direct student services. Please check with the International Student Advisor if you have any questions about whether your proposed employment is legal, according to the "on-campus" regulations.


F-1 TRANSFERS
What do I need to know if I am planning to transfer to another school?
New rules require that you notify your International Student Advisor if you plan to transfer to another school.  Before your new school is able to issue you an I-20 your SEVIS records must be released by Westfield State University and release form needs to be signed, therefore it is advisable to let your ISA know of your plans as soon as possible.

Transfers in to Westfield State University:

If you have applied to and been accepted by Westfield State University, and are currently attending another US high school or college in F-1 status, we must receive an official  transfer of your F-1 status to WSU. This is a completely separate procedure from the academic transfer you must also go through. Please make it very clear to your International Student Advisor that you are an F-1 visa holder at another U.S. school, and need to transfer your F-1 status to Westfield State University. If you have been accepted to Westfield State University and are in the U.S. in another visa status such as J-1, J2, or others please contact our office as soon as possible.

When we receive notification of your admittance from the college we will issue you an I-20 form. There are two ways to process your transfer:

In-country: If you will not be traveling outside the U.S. we will send you a new transfer I-20 form. You must bring this form, with your passport, to the International Program Office on campus within two weeks of your arrival. We will process your transfer, and mail in the top copy of your I-20 to your previous school, thus officially notifying them of your transfer to Westfield State University, so they will know your transfer is complete.

Out-of-country: If you will be traveling outside the U.S. before you come to Westfield State University, we will send you the transfer I-20 form. When you re-enter the U.S. the custom officer at the port of entry will stamp the upper right corner of your I-20 and return it to you. You must still check in with the International Office within two weeks of your arrival on campus, and provide a copy of the stamped I-20 form, with your passport.

Transfers out from Westfield State University:

If you are currently an international student attending Westfield State University and have applied and been accepted to another institution within the US, your new school must request an official transfer of your F-1 status (I-20 form) from Westfield State University. This is a completely separate procedure from the academic transfer you must also go through. Your new school will send you a new I-20, and will inform you of the procedures you must follow in order to maintain your legal F-1 student status.

Please make sure you are attending the school that issued your current I-20, and that if transferring, you follow all proper procedures.


F-1 TRAVEL
Planning is the key. Think several weeks in advance about what you will need for your trip and assemble it. That way, you will not be stressed out at the last minute. Make several copies of all of your important documents. That includes  all of the I-20s you have been issued (from every school you have attended) and the pages in your passport showing your picture, birth date, passport number, expiration date, visa and I-94 card. Keep one set of copies in your carry –on luggage, one set in your checked baggage and leave a set at home preferably with someone who can send them to you if needed. Visit International Program Office to have your I-20 signed. Do this several days before you travel. Do not wait until the last minute. Order a copy of your transcript from WSU Registrar’s Office.

If you are traveling outside of the United States:

Check the visa (for the United States) in your passport to learn if it has expired. If so, you will have to apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to have it renewed before returning to the United States.

If you have changed your visa status to F-1 in the United States, you will have to apply for an F-1 visa at a US Embassy or Consulate before returning to the United States. Remember, you are currently in “F-1 status” but you do not have an F-1 visa.

* If you need to get your F-1 visa renewed of if you need to apply for an F-1 visa, you should contact the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in the country where you are traveling BEFORE your travel to learn how long the process may take. Warning: Currently, it often takes 4-8 weeks to apply for a visa so you may need to take the entire term as a vacation. Also, if possible, you may want to make an appointment with the U.S. Embassy in the country you are traveling to before you leave the U.S. We recommend this because it often takes 2-4 weeks just to get an appointment.

If you are traveling outside of the United States to a country other than your home country, call the embassy of that country to learn if you need a visa to enter that country. If so, ask what the requirements, cost and timeframe are to apply for a visa. Keep in mind that it often takes 2-3 weeks to process a visa application.

Get current Financial Support Documents from your financial sponsor. You may be asked for them by an immigration official at the airport/border when you return to the United States. If you need to renew your visa, you will definitely be required to show your current/recent Financial Support Documents at the U.S. Embassy where you apply for the visa renewal.

If you are traveling in the United States, make sure to carry your original passport and I-20 with you at all times. If you are stopped by any government official (police, border patrols, immigration officers, etc.) you will be required to show your original documents.  When you are at home remember to bring back a traditional costume, posters/art/decorations/material from your country.  You will be able to wear your costume and use the material at WSU International Student Club activities and other occasions. Have a Safe Trip and a Great Time! We look forward to welcoming you back to Westfield State University!!!!


FORMS

  • International Student Information Form
  • F-1 Transfer Verification Form
  • Certification of Finances Form

GENERAL INFORMATION

IMMIGRATION RESOURCES


Tax Information

Students with F-1 or J-1 visas who arrived in the United States are required to file a Tax Return even if they have earned no income.

If you have received no income subject to taxation, you may complete Form 8843. Taxable income includes salary from on-campus work and U.S. based scholarships that exceed the cost of tuition, fees, books and course supplies. You do not need a social security number to complete this form.

If you have received taxable income (for example, from on-campus employment), you will receive a W-2 form from the Payroll Office by January 31. You will need to complete a tax return even if you are exempt from paying taxes.

You will need the following information to complete your tax return:

  • Passport
  • Form I-94
  • Form I-20 or Form DS-2019
  • W-2 Form
  • 1040 NR or 1040NR-EZ
  • Social Security Number

The deadline for filing your tax return for April 15 each year

Current regulations require that all F and J visa holders must file form 8843 even if they had no U.S. based income. The IPO staff is not able to answer individual tax questions. However, below are some resources that are available for International students and scholars.

To make it easy for you, Westfield State University has arranged access to Sprintax, an easy-to-use tax preparation tool, to guide you through the tax preparation process. Please see the Sprintax instructions.

If you plan to file your taxes on your own, you can obtain tax forms on the web, or you could stop by the International Programs Office to receive procedures to generate forms by using the online process. The forms must be printed and mailed using this process.