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International Student Services

Department of Homeland Security Update

On July 14, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rescinded the ICE guidance and FAQs that were issued on July 6 and 7. By doing this, DHS reverts back to the guidance issued in March at the start of the coronavirus emergency and the closing of campus.

As an international student, you have access to a number of benefits and services at the International Center. We are here to ensure that you maintain your legal status while a student at UHart and will provide you with the necessary support for your success.

The Center acts as the liaison between the University and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service, the U.S. Department of State, embassies and consulates abroad, foreign governments, and international organizations.

We also provide you with current information regarding compliance with DHS requirements, including student and exchange visitor status, travel, employment regulations and so much more. Personalized academic and non-academic counseling and referral is available and no appointment is necessary to speak with an advisor.

Important Information

Most students at the University of Hartford enter the United States on an F1 student visa or a J1 visa. Learn more about student visas and important immigration documents below:

F1 Student visa

An F1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa for those wishing to study in the U.S. You must file an F1 visa application if you plan on entering the US to attend a university or college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory, language training program, or other academic institution.

J1 exchange student visa

A J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by the United States to research scholars, professors and exchange visitors participating in programs that promote cultural exchange, especially to obtain medical or business training within the U.S.

As an international student, you are in possession of important documents, all of which help to determine your legal status in the U.S..

Passport

You must keep your passport valid at all times while you are in the U.S.. (unless you are exempt from passport requirements). If your passport will expire while you are still in the U.S., you must contact the embassy of your home country to make arrangements to have it extended. You will not be permitted to re-enter the U.S.. with an expired passport.

If you lose your passport, you should immediately take steps to have it replaced. You must contact the International Center if your passport has been lost, stolen, damaged, or expired. Find a list of foreign Embassies and Consulates in the U.S.

Form I-94 Arrival/Departure record

The I-94 Arrival/Departure record is created at the time of your entry to the U.S.. This electronically created document indicates your visa category and contains an 11-digit identifying number called the "admission number," which is used to keep track of your arrival to and departure from the U.S.. This form determines how long you can stay in the U.S.. You will need this form if you wish to apply for a Social Security Number, a Connecticut driver’s license or Connecticut state ID card or open a bank account. You should download your form soon after your arrival to the U.S.. You should also bring a copy to the International Center if you have not done so already.

Follow these steps to print your I-94 Form:

  • Go to Arrival/Departure Forms: I-94 and I-94W
  • Fill out your information in the fields provided
  • Check the correct name spelling, all personal information, the visa category and expiration date of the authorized stay
  • If errors are found, you will have to contact the Immigration Service in Hartford Ct.  They will make an appointment for you with the Customs and Border Patrol office at Bradley International Airport.
  • If there are no errors, you must print out your I-94 Form and keep it with your passport and I-20/DSP 2019 Form
Form I-20/DS 2019

This form is issued by the International Center and used to obtain an F-or J-1 student visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. You should read and clearly understand all the information printed on your I-20/DS 2019. You are required to keep the information on your I-20/DS 2019 accurate. If you lose your I-20/DS 2019, you should immediately request a new one from the International Center.

You should update your I-20/DSP 2019 Form if:

  • You change your academic program from one degree level to another (e.g., from bachelor’s to master’s level), or one major or field of study to another (e.g., from chemical engineering to physics).
  • Your source of funding changes (e.g. from parents to scholarship).
  • You add dependents
  • You need to extend your program of study beyond the original program completion date on your I-20/DSP 2019 Form

Expiration Date on I-20/DS 2019: The expiration date on your form is the date that your program in the U.S. is expected to end. If you are on an F-1 visa, you will have 60 days from that date before you are required to leave the U.S. If you are on a J-1 visa you will have 30 days. This period of time is considered a "grace period" and you may use this time to prepare for your departure, or to travel in the U.S..

During the grace period you are not permitted to engage in employment of any kind. You will not be permitted to reenter the U.S. if you travel outside its borders after the date listed on your I-20/DS 2019, even if it falls within this 30- or 60-day period.

VISA

The F-1 or J-1 visa stamp in your passport permits you to enter the U.S.. for a specific purpose and within a specific period of time. The visa may either be for single, double, or multiple entries. If it is authorized for single entry only, you will need to apply for a new visa in order to reenter the U.S. at a future date. If the visa is authorized for two entries, you may leave and reenter the U.S. one more time. If the visa is authorized for multiple entries, you may come and go as many times as you wish, provided that your Form I-20/DS 2019 remains valid and travel occurs within the dates specified on the visa.

What do I do if my visa expires?

Please note the date of your visa’s expiration. If your visa expires while you are in the U.S. but your I-20/DS 2019 and I-94 are valid, your legal immigration status in the U.S.. remains valid. Your visa is used for entry or reentry to the U.S. only and does not dictate the length of your authorized stay. That is determined by your I-20/DS 2019. If your visa has expired and you depart the U.S., you will be required to obtain a new visa while outside the U.S. before attempting to reenter the U.S.

International students should be aware of and comply fully with the following Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations and University of Hartford policies and procedures:

 

Full-Time Enrollment

You must be enrolled for your courses by the beginning of each semester.  You are expected to regularly attend classes. If you plan on taking a semester off other than summer, you must obtain prior approval from the International Center.


Full time enrollment is defined as 12 credits per semester for undergraduates, 9 credits per semester for Master’s and 6 credits per semester for PhD, Artist Diploma, and GDP students.  The International Center is required to report enrollment to the government.  Any student who is not enrolled will be reported and will be considered out of status.


Prior approval from the International Center is needed if you plan to take classes at another school. If you dual enroll, you must take the majority of your credits per semester at the University of Hartford.

You must complete a full course of study during normal enrollment periods (fall and spring semesters).

If you are enrolled in a program that requires the completion of a thesis or recital and you have completed ALL course requirements, you must register for thesis or recital "continuation" each semester. You must insure that your I-20 or DSP 2019 remain valid for the extension period. You must have the approval of your department chairperson and the International Center.

Program Extension

If you cannot complete your program of study as expected and need additional time for completion, you must have the approval of your academic advisor and the International Center and complete the Request to Extend Program Form.
You must apply for an extension of your program of study prior to the expiration date on your I-20 or DS-2019. Extension requests should be submitted no later than 30 days prior to the expiration date of the I-20 or DS-2019.

OnLine Courses

Typically, you are only allowed to count one online course per semester toward your full-time status. 

Reduced Course Load

If you will not be enrolled full-time, you must receive prior approval from the International Center. You and your academic advisor must complete the Reduced Course Load Form and submit it to the International Center prior to dropping below a full course load.

Reduced course load options are restricted as follows:

You can only have reduced course load for academic difficulty for one semester per degree.


You can have a reduced course load for medical reasons for two semesters per degree (12 months). Medical reasons must be substantiated by a United States medical doctor or a U.S. board certified psychologist.

You can have a reduced course load in your last semester before graduating if you need less than a full course load to graduate.

Change of Address or Name

You must report any change of address or residence to the International Center within 10 days of the change. This information will then be sent electronically to DHS.  You can report address changes directly into Self-Service and the International Center will be automatically updated.

If you change your name, you must report it to the Office of the Registrar and the International Center in person and provide legal documentation that reflects the name change. If the name(s) of your dependents change, please report this to the International Center along with documentation of the name change.

Change of Major, Degree or Financial Sponsor

You must obtain a new I-20 or DS-2019 if you change your academic program from one degree level to another (e.g., from bachelor’s to master’s level), or one major/field of study to another (e.g. from chemical engineering to physics). You must also obtain a new I-20 or DS-2019 if your source of funding changes (e.g. from scholarship to parents).

Travel Outside the US

Prior to traveling outside the U.S. make sure that your I-20 or DS-2019 has been endorsed on page 2.  Each endorsement is valid for one year.  If you need a travel signature, you can request one here.  

F-2 Dependents

If you wish to bring dependents in F-2 or J-2 status, you may request an I-20 or DS-2019 from the International Center. You must compete the Dependent Request Form, and include a copy of your marriage certificate and/or your child's birth certificate.

Employment

You are NOT allowed to work off campus without authorization. F-1 students are allowed to work on campus up to 20 hours per week when school is in session and more hours when classes are not in session. J-1 students are only allowed to work on campus up to 20 hours per week with their J-1 program sponsor’s authorization. Students may be allowed to work off campus with appropriate authorization. See additional employment information here.

Transfer

If you intend to transfer to another educational institution, you must notify the International Center in advance of this transfer by completing the Transfer Out Form and meeting with an International Center advisor.

Withdrawal from School

If you need to withdraw from classes, or are asked to leave the university, you must report this to the International Center. If you report to the International Center prior to your withdrawal, you will have 15 days to leave the United States. If you do not report to the International Center, your status ends immediately.

Grace Period

The normal grace period to remain in the U.S. following degree/program completion is 60 days for F-1 students and 30 days for J-1 students.

The University of Hartford requires all undergraduate and graduate full- and part-time international students on an F-1  or J-1 student/exchange visitor visa to be enrolled in an accident and sickness insurance program. 
 
All international students will be automatically enrolled in the University's health insurance plan at the time of course registration. The charge for coverage will appear on your university billing statement.

 The 2021–22 plan policy is effective as of September 1, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. and ends on July 31, 2022, at 12:01 a.m. The Plan offers a health insurance policy through Wellfleet Insurance Company with the Cigna National PPO Network. Gallagher Student Health provides account management to the University for this policy coverage. The plan protects a student at school, at home, and while traveling or studying abroad. Plan benefit information, including co-payments, deductible amounts, and additional information are available on the Gallagher Student Health website. Here, you can also review standard questions under the FAQ section to ensure that your current policy meets the same PPACA guidelines.

 If you already have insurance that meets the basic standards as outlined here, then you must complete a waiver. Using this link, click on “Student Waive/Enroll” under Student Access. If using a mobile device, “Student Waive/Enroll” can be found under Quick Links.

After you waive the coverage online, check back after 24 hours. If your waiver is approved, it will be clearly stated and you do not need to take additional action. If it is not approved, the message will clearly state that you need to take further action (such as upload information to provide additional proof of current coverage). If you do not resolve any pending issues, you will be enrolled and billed for the University’s coverage. 

 For important deadlines and additional information, please click here.

Are you looking to get a U.S. number? There are two main types of mobile phone services: monthly plans with a contract and prepaid plans.

Two-Year Contracts:
  • These are the most common contracts in the United States. Contract plans offer lower monthly rates and very low prices on new phones compared to prepaid plans. Typically, the best prices are offered to customers who sign two-year contracts for phone service. While the rates are lower, terminating a contract early requires the customer to pay a large penalty.
  • To qualify for a contract plan, a cell phone provider will generally review the applicant’s credit history. Since new international students do not have Social Security numbers or credit history in the United States, they typically require a security deposit which could be $400 to $800. As with any contract, please ensure that you understand all requirements and charges before signing it.
Non-Contract
  • “Pay-As-You-Go” or Prepaid Plans: Prepaid plans are easier for new international students to obtain because they do not require a Social Security number and/or a credit history check. These “pay-as-you-go” plans use the same phone networks and offer the same services as contract plans, but usually at higher rates. Advantages of these plans include no long-term contracts, security deposits, or penalties for cancellation.
Major cell phone carriers and vendors in the US

Having a U.S. bank account is a great way to manage your finances while studying at the University of Hartford. Opening a bank account is not complicated. Many banks offer free checking to students. These accounts typically come with an ATM card or debit card, the ability to write checks, and the ability to access your account online to review the balance and transaction history.

What do I need?

Documents you should take with you to open your account include:

  • Your unexpired passport
  • University of Hartford ID
  • Your I-94 Arrival Record
  • Your I-20 or DS-2019 Form
  • Any secondary form of identification you may have
  • Form W-8 BEN if you are not eligible for a social security number or ITIN.

Types of accounts and cards

Checking Accounts

Banks offer different types of checking accounts designed to fit individual needs. The cost of checking varies from bank to bank. Some banks charge per transaction, some have a basic monthly fee, and others offer free services if you maintain a certain minimum balance in your account at all times. You should be able to access information regarding your personal account, including all transactions and deposits, through the bank's website.

Debit Cards

A debit card, also known as a check card, allows you to withdraw or deposit money to your bank account using an automatic teller machine (ATM) and to make purchases at stores that accept the card. Debit cards are not credit cards.

Savings Accounts

A savings account enables you to save money and accumulate interest on your savings. Interest is paid either monthly or quarterly. The difference between a savings and a checking account is that you cannot write checks on a savings account.

Bank Cards

Many banks issue cards that enable you to deposit and withdraw money 24 hours a day by use of an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). These machines, frequently located outside the bank, are very convenient. By using a bank card, you can avoid waiting in line at the bank and can have access to money after the bank closes. Banks that are members of a national ATM network allow you to access your funds with your bank card at selected ATM’s throughout the country. There are many ATMs located on campus.

Credit Cards

Credit cards may be convenient, especially if you unexpectedly have major expenses. You can pay University and medical fees, airplane tickets and car repairs with any major credit card. You must understand that you can easily accumulate large bills with credit cards, and before you know it, you may be in debt. Before you accept a credit card, you must be sure to understand all your obligations. Most banks charge an annual fee. If you are unable to pay your full balance each month, you will be charged high interest rates (usually 18 percent or higher) on the remaining balance and any additional charges you make. Make sure you stay within your budget when making credit card purchases.

We understand tax filing is confusing to everyone, so please do take some time to understand what your tax obligations are as international students. 

BE ADVISED: Other than providing this information the International Center cannot answer any questions in regards to filing your taxes. Our staff are not trained accountants and, legally, we cannot advise you through the filing process. We can only provide you with links to the appropriate sources and forms. All tax questions must be directed to a professional. If you come to the International Center seeking help with your taxes you will be told this same information and our staff will not answer any specific questions regarding the filing of your taxes.

The International Center partners with Sprintax, a tax preparation software specializing in non-residents holding  F1, F2, J1 & J2 visas.  During tax season, you will be able to purchase Sprintax software and attend one of their free online webinars to help you prepare and file your US taxes.   

Please note, do not use any of the popular TURBO TAX or HR Block or other tax preparation services which are for residents and they are not familiar with tax obligations for non-resident international students with F1, F2, J1 and J2 visas. 

 Do I need to submit a tax filing for the current tax year even if I didn’t receive income? 

  • YES! EVERYONE, who were present in the United States on a F1, F2, J1 or J2 visa, for any length of time, are required to submit at the very minimum Form 8843
  • It doesn’t matter if you did not work on-campus or did not receive scholarship from a U.S.. source.  You all need to submit Form 8843.
  • If you received income from a U.S.. source, you will most likely need to file additional forms.

 Why do I have to file a tax return?

  • It is a legal requirement of the United States. 
  • Failure to file tax paperwork may impact the current status of your visa and make future visa or immigration paperwork applications difficult.
  • Failure to file tax paperwork may also result in monetary penalties.
  • You may be owed a tax refund – this is not a guarantee for every student.

What forms do I file?  Am I considered Resident or Non-Resident for Tax Purposes?

  • For tax filing purposes, there are two categories you would be considered under: 
    • RESIDENT for tax filing purposes
    • NON-RESIDENT for tax filing purposes
    • To determine which category you belong to for tax filing purposes, you must do the Substantial Presence Test. 
    • The easiest way is to do this is to create a free account on Sprintax and go through the questionnaire which will let you know if you are considered resident or non-resident.   

 The below information is for those students considered as NON-RESIDENTS based on the Substantial Presence Test.  If you were categorized as a RESIDENT for tax filing purposes, contact the International Center so that we can provide you with the appropriate website links for you.

 FILING INFORMATION FOR NON-RESIDENT  (based on Substantial Presence Test)

IF you are a NON-RESIDENT for tax purposes, these are the forms you need to file:

  • Form 8843 – If you are considered Non-Resident for tax purposes and you have an F1, F2, J1, J2 visa.  And if you were present in the U.S. during the current tax year.  You are required to submit Form 8843 for that year (see below for more info).
  • Form 1040-NR – If you are considered Non-Resident for tax purposes and you received income from an U.S.. institution (on-campus job, gains for stock sales, non-tuition scholarship awards…), you will need to file at least Form 1040-NR for Federal Taxes and possibly another one for State taxes.  See below for more info. 

1040-NR vs 1040 – read this blog  to understand 1040-NR: http://blog.sprintax.com/nonresident-form-1040nr-vs-1040nr-ez/

How do I file my tax return as a NON-RESIDENT for tax purposes?

If you have income, the filing process can be difficult and overwhelming, so we highly suggest using a tax preparation service familiar with F-1, J-1 visas tax filing obligations such as Sprintax (Do not use TurboTax or other popular tax preparation services as they are not familiar with your situation). 

  • The International Center has been offering a limited number of $5 access codes for Federal Tax preparation through Sprintax, which is an online software that specializes in tax preparation services for international students.  During tax season, you will receive an email from the International Center with information on how to purchase this software. 
  • Once these discounted access codes are sold out, you can also sign up and pay for their service through their website click here.
  • Please note, you should start with the Federal Tax form service first and depending on your situation, you will find out if you also need to sign up for the State Tax form service which will result in an additional fee. 
  • You can also choose to go to a tax preparation company for a fee, however, make sure the tax preparer understands your status as an international student on F-1, F-2, J-1 and J-2 Visa.   Please note, you are not eligible to use the popular TURBO tax software/online service which is only for residents.  
  • You also have the option to file your taxes on your own using the forms links provided below.  If you choose to do this, carefully read through the instructions for each form. The process can be quite confusing and unclear. 

Federal Tax Forms for NON-RESIDENTS:

State Tax Forms for NON-RESIDENTS:

  •  If you earned taxable income in the U.S.. during the current tax year, you might also need to file state tax paperwork for the respective state in which you worked in.
  •  For information on Connecticut State tax filing, see the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services: http://www.ct.gov/drs/site/default.asp. You will need to fill out the CT-1040NR/PY
  • If you have income for the tax year coming from states other than Connecticut you must research the tax policies/procedures for the state from which you received the taxable income.

Being an international student at the University of Hartford can be an exciting time in your life and you may wish to share this experience with family or friends from back home.

If you wish to invite family members or friends (other than your spouse or child for a permanent stay with you) to visit with you in the United States for a short time, they should apply for a B-2 Visitor Visa through a U.S. embassy or consulate back home.

You should provide them with the following:

  • A personal invitation letter, which should include your name, school, relationship to the applicant, name of applicant, applicant’s place and date of birth, dates expected to visit the United States, duration of visit, preferred arrival date, and whether you will provide financial support for the applicant’s visit.
  • Copies of your I-20 or DS-2019, visa stamp, and I-94 Arrival Document.
  • Copies of your proof of financial support, such as bank statements, University of Hartford assistantship letters, and/or personal bank statements if you stated that you would provide financial support for the applicant during his or her stay in the U.S.

Typically your guest will be allowed entry to the U.S. for a period not to exceed six months.

The International Center does not provide invitation letters.  A letter from the university is not required for your family member's visa interview.