International and Postdoctoral Services Office newsletter for J-1s and J-2s. 
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The J Connection

December 2018
Also in this issue:
ESL Resources | Travel | Tax Season | Phone Scams | Safety Tips

Happy Holidays!

The IPSO staff would like to wish you all a wonderful and peaceful holiday season!

If you are traveling, we hope that you have a safe trip and enjoy time with your friends and family. 

We look forward to seeing you back at Augusta University after the holidays!

Photo: The Christmas tree in the lobby of the Children's Hospital of Georgia.

International Community Lunch

Thanks to everyone who came to the International Community Lunch: Holiday Edition to celebrate the holiday season! We hope everyone had fun sharing in the festivities. If you were unable to attend, you can still play our holiday trivia!

We hope to see you at the next International Lunch in February. Be on the lookout for an announcement!
IPSO staff members celebrated the holiday season with some of Augusta University’s international visitors, students and employees.

The International Link ESL classes moving to new day and location starting January 2019

The English as a Second Language (ESL) classes held by the International Link in the Student Center on the Health Sciences Campus will be moving to Thursday evenings at First Presbyterian Church starting in January 2019.

The last class on the Health Sciences Campus will be on Wednesday, December 12. Then, they will break for Christmas. Classes will resume on Thursday, January 10 from 7 to 9 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church

For more information, contact Beth Gore at

English for Multilingual Writers class offered for Spring 2019  

An English for Multilingual Writers course is being offered for both undergraduate and graduate students in the Spring 2019 semester.

This 1-credit course is designed to help non-native English writers understand important features of academic writing in the medical field. Topics include how to make an effective argument, how to structure information logically, how to integrate sources in research writing, how to write objective, authoritative, impersonal, information-condensed sentences required in research writing, how to write grammatically correct sentences, etc. 
No new writing from the students is required for this course. We will study sample research articles to understand features of academic writing, and will have a chance to apply the language and writing knowledge covered in the class to improve some writings. 

The class will meet Tuesdays from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Health Sciences Building, Room 2230. Undergraduate students should enroll in ENGL 4002, and graduate students should enroll in ENGL 6002.

For more information, please contact Dr. Jun Zhao at

Traveling outside the U.S.? 

  • If you are planning to travel outside the United States this holiday season, your form DS-2019 should by endorsed by an IPSO advisor. Please make an appointment as soon as you know your dates of travel. 
  • If your visa is expired, you may need to get a new visa to re-enter the U.S. Before you arrive at your destination, we recommend that you schedule your visa appointment with a U.S. consulate or embassy as early as possible. 
  • If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico or the islands adjacent to the U.S., consult your IPSO advisor for more information. 
  • If you are traveling to a country other than your home country, you may need an entry or transit visa and should contact that country’s embassy or consulate for information. This includes layovers. 
  • You must have a valid passport that will remain valid for at least six months after your arrival in the United States. 
  • Remember to schedule an appointment upon your return from travel.

Tax season is right around the corner

As tax season approaches, it's time to prepare. Some of the things you may need to do include renewing your Tax Treaty exemption, updating your personal information, or requesting an Individual Tax ID Number (ITIN) for yourself or any dependents. You will also want to create a place to gather all the tax documents you receive.

If you are currently exempt from taxation, you will need to create the required forms for 2019. Reminder emails have been sent out. If you think you should have an exemption for 2019, review your Glacier file, then sign and submit any generated forms to Rebecca Wagner at If you are still uncertain, please contact her at the same email address.

At this time of year, review your personal information on file with the university. This will ensure that you receive all your tax documents in a timely manner. Several of the places you should review are the Pounce system (for student information), the SelfServe application in the Human Resources system (for employee information), or personal information in the Glacier database. Unfortunately, none of these systems communicate with each other, so you will need to review all systems in which you are included.

Obtaining an ITIN has been a huge hassle, but it has gotten a little easier this year. It will still take about 10 weeks to process each ITIN. You will still need to complete a W-7 form. But while in the past, you could only submit this form in Atlanta or at H&R Block for a fee, you can now submit this form at the LOCAL IRS office for FREE.
The IRS office requires an appointment. These will be scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Each person applying for an ITIN will need to attend when submitting the form(s). Family members may use the same appointment (allow 30 minutes for the first applicant and 15 minues for each additional applicant), but friends must each make their own appointment (again, allow 30 minutes per applicant).

Original copies of background documentation will be required; these will be returned to you prior to leaving. The following are accepted documents: 
  • passports
  • national identity card
  • U.S. driver's license
  • civil birth certificate
  • foreign driver's license
  • U.S. state identification card
  • foreign voter's registration card
  • U.S. military identification card
  • foreign military registration card
  • U.S. visa
  • USCIS photo identification
The local IRS office is located at Building 3 - 3154 Perimeter Parkway, Augusta, GA 30909 (near the University of Phoenix). They can be contacted at the following phone numbers: 706-868-1374 for information and 844-545-5640 for appointments. Again, walk-ins are not welcome. You must make an appointment.

Finally, gather together any tax documents you receive, either in the mail, passed out by your department, or available through web sources. This will save you time and trouble once tax time arrives.

Beware of scam phone calls  

The IRS (Internal Revenue Service), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) will not call you or email you demanding an immediate payment. Do not give out your credit or debit card number over the phone, and do not agree to send money via a wire transfer or prepaid debit card. If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be with one of these agencies, hang up.

If you're not sure if you owe taxes, you can call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040. For more information, see this IRS notice about phone scams targeted at non-native English speakers

If you want to verify whether a call is from USCIS, call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 to ask if you need to do anything about your case or immigration status. For more information, visit the USCIS Avoid Scams website.

Also, please be aware that scammers have made calls, identified themselves as "U.S. immigration" employees, and altered their caller ID to seem like the call is coming from the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) hotline (1-800-323-8603). The DHS never uses its Hotline number to make outgoing calls. The phone line is only used to receive incoming calls. Do not give out any personal identifiable information over the phone. For more information, read the press release from the DHS OIG.

Safety tips for this holiday season

While enjoying this holiday season, we want you to be safe. While visiting local places in Augusta or anywhere in the U.S., please follow these safety tips to protect yourself and ensure a happy and safe venture:
  1. Be aware of your surroundings and pay close attention to those around you.
  2. Do not walk alone in poorly lit areas.
  3. If approached by a stranger, move quickly to a place where there are other people.
  4. When in public places always look alert and confident.
  5. Do NOT accept rides from strangers or people you do not know very well.
  6. When out shopping, carry your bags and purse close to your side.
  7. Do not leave valuables in your car in full view of would-be thieves.
  8. Keep doors to your home locked.
  9. When walking to your car in a parking garage, avoid talking on your cell phone and have keys in hand ready to unlock your car door.
  10. If you feel you are in danger Do NOT be afraid to “make a scene.”
  11. Trust your instincts!
  12. Call 911 for emergencies.
Copyright © 2018 Augusta University IPSO, All rights reserved.

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