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Newsletter for F-1 international students.
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The Frontier

A newsletter for F-1 international students
January 2020

Welcome back Jaguars! 

Welcome back to all our international students. We hope that you enjoyed your break and that your semester is off to a good start.  

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at ipso@augusta.edu or 706-721-0670.

Important Updates

DUO Multifactor Authentication now required when traveling abroad

The IT (Information Technology) Department recently announced a new policy that is especially important for international students who travel frequently. 

Beginning February 1, 2020 all AU students and employees will be required to request DUO access before traveling abroad. If you do not make this request, you will not be able to access any AU system while abroad, including your AU email. Read the full announcement from IT.

New option for completing travel returns

You may now complete your travel return electronically instead of coming to the office for an appointment. If you traveled over the holidays and request a travel return appointment, we will send you instructions on how to scan and upload your documents to your Box folder.  

F-1s in OPT status are reminded to update I-20s with any change in employment information

F-1 Students engaged in Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) are reminded that they must update their I-20s with their employer information within two weeks of starting employment. Students may update their information by logging in to the SEVP Portal
 
SEVIS is now automatically counting the days of unemployment for students who fail to add or update their employer information in the SEVP Portal. Students unemployed for more than 90 days are in danger of falling out of status.

IPSO has noted that failing to update the employer information is causing problems for some OPT students who move on to apply for H-1B status because USCIS is considering any accrued unemployment time counted in SEVIS.

For more information on maintaining status while engaged in Optional Practical Training, please contact Beverly Tarver at btarver@augusta.edu.

Graduating? Here's when you should apply for OPT

Post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows you to work in the U.S. for at least one year after graduating.

If you're planning to apply, you'll want to keep the following in mind. The earliest that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will accept your application is 90 days before your graduation date. The latest that they will accept your application is 60 days after your graduation date. You are not required to have a job to apply for OPT. 
You are encouraged to apply for OPT before graduation. If you do not apply before graduation, you are encouraged to apply:
  • within the 45-day period after graduation so that your application will reach USCIS on or before the 60th day after graduation.
    AND
  • prior to exiting the U.S. If you exit the U.S. during the grace period after you graduate or complete your program requirements, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services may determine that your F-1 status has ended and you are ineligible for OPT. 
USCIS receipt date for undergraduate students graduating in May
Earliest date: February 10, 2020
Latest date: July 7, 2020
USCIS receipt date for undergraduate students graduating in August
Earliest date: May 6, 2020
Latest date: October 3, 2020
Please read the complete instructions on preparing your OPT application packet. 

When you are ready, you may request an appointment with Ms. Beverly Tarver. 

Authorities warn of fraudulent text messages being sent to students about military draft

Examples of fraudulent text messages sent by scammers.
Graphic by Maj. Jessica Rovero / U.S. Army Recruiting Command
Authorities are warning college students about fraudulent text messages asking them to report for a military draft. 

The FBI said that about 50 college students in the Jacksonville, Florida area received text messages directing them to report to the nearest Army branch for immediate departure to Iran. The message listed a phone number and threatened jail time if the receiver of the text message didn't call. 

The FBI said that the phone number listed in the text messages is a real working phone number for U.S. Army recruiting. The messages sometimes even listed the name of a real U.S. Army recruiting employee to ask for when calling. However, the FBI said that these messages are fraudulent. The U.S. Army is not contacting anyone regarding a draft. Read the U.S. Army Recruiting Command's official release.

The Augusta University Police Department said that because of the proximity of Fort Gordon, Augusta University students could possibly be targets of these fraudulent text messages as well. Please be aware and don't fall for this scam. 
 
Reminders 

Enrolled in an online course? Remember this rule

F-1 students are only allowed to count one online or distance course toward their F-1 full course of study requirement. If the one course is more than 3 credit hours, only three of those credit hours will count towards meeting the full course of study requirement.

Full course of study requirements

  • Graduate students: at least 9 credit hours
  • Undergraduate students: at least 12 credit hours

F-1 students may take more than one online or distance course, but only one of the online or distance courses (at a maximum of 3 credit hours) will count towards the full course of study requirement.

If you're not sure if you have enough credit hours to meet the full course of study requirement for your F-1 program, please contact Beverly Tarver at btarver@augusta.edu or 706-721-0670.  

Notify IPSO of your change of address

If your address changes, please let us know by filling out our Information Change Request Form.

You are also required to notify USCIS of your address change within 10 days after you move - even if you change from one room to another in your residence hall - by filling out the Form AR-11 online.

Extend your I-20 if necessary

Please pay attention to the "program end date" on your I-20. (Click the image above to see a larger sample I-20.) If you plan to graduate later than the end date on your I-20, please request an extension appointment
Upcoming Events 

Chinese New Year Gala of 2020

The Augusta Chinese community will be celebrating the Lunar New Year on Saturday, January 25 at Maxwell Theater. The Chinese New Year Gala of 2020 will feature a free show, food and drinks. The event is hosted by the Augusta Chinese Association and sponsored by Augusta University International Initiatives.

In China, the Lunar New Year is celebrated for about 16 days, starting on New Year's Eve (which is January 25 this year) and ending on the 15th day of the new year with the Lantern Festival. 
The celebration, also known as Spring Festival in China, is a time to reunite with friends and family. Celebrations also include firecrackers, decorations, food and giving "lucky money" to children. Each year is represented by one of the 12 zodiac animals, and 2020 is the year of the rat. 

Be sure to tell your Chinese colleagues 新年好 (Happy New Year)
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