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Tips & Reminders for Seniors

F-1 Student Senior Info 

Academic Notes
  • Check your academic audit in DegreeWorks and talk to someone in the Registrar’s office if you see any discrepancies in your record.
  • Your major MUST be declared with the Registrar’s office and recorded in SEVIS - you can’t graduate without a major!
  • If you have IB or AP credits that you haven’t transferred in yet, do that ASAP (see notes at end)
  • If you are not going to be able to graduate in May, talk to us before registration closes.  We have ideas!
  • You are allowed to take fewer than 12 credits if you will complete your academic program this semester
    • You must be approved by Registrar’s office to be “part-time” (Safia or Candice will also need to sign the form)
    • Your scholarship/financial aid package will be adjusted – check with the Financial Aid office for details (they also must sign the form).  You must do this before the end of registration period to affect your bill.
    • You must take at least 6 credits to qualify for Financial Aid.
  • We are required to update the Program End Date on your I-20 to reflect the exact end date – it will be graduation day unless you’re doing an on-campus May Term after graduation.  Please watch your mailboxes during the first few weeks of the semester for a new I-20.  Sign and date it as soon as you get it, but keep all your old I-20s forever!
  • If you are interested in applying for the Global Engagement Designation, your Proposed Plan of Engagement is due to Roger Atkins by the posted deadline.
 
Post-Graduation/EPIC Options
  • Leave the U.S.
    • Inform Candice or Safia of your intention to leave.
    • You have a 60-day grace period after your Program End Date – you can remain in the U.S. but cannot work or study during this time.
    • Keep all previous I-20s in case you need them for a future visa application.
  • Attend Graduate School in the U.S.
    • Request a transfer of your SEVIS record within 5 months of the Program End Date to your new school to avoid paying the $350 SEVIS fee again. 
    • We need a copy of your acceptance letter, confirmation that you have accepted their offer, and the school’s SEVIS code.
    • We must coordinate with you to determine the date and schedule the transfer in SEVIS – it’s imperative that you talk to us!
  • Apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) (see more notes near end)
    • Work with Candice or Safia to prepare and send the OPT application
  • Apply for Change of Status (i.e. if you have a sponsor for an H-1B work visa)
 
General Notes
  • Working on-campus
    • You are only allowed to work on-campus (student jobs) until graduation day – you may not work on-campus after your program end date.  This includes Res Life positions.
    • The exceptions are if you are doing a May Term or (possibly) if you are attending grad school and you are hired on the campus of your new grad school between terms, but that will be a case-by-case situation.  Talk to us if you have questions about this.
    • If you get hired by Earlham as an alum (not a student job) the work must fall within the regulations for OPT 
  • Working off-campus
    • You are only allowed to work off-campus after graduation if you have OPT.  You must wait until the Start Date on your Employment Authorization Document (EAD/OPT card) has arrived.  All work must be directly related to your major (minors are not eligible) because it is Practical Training in your field of study – that’s the only reason you’re allowed to work.
  •  Invitation letters for graduation
    • If you want letters, we need the following information for each person:
      •  name (exactly as it appears on passport)
      • relationship to you
      • approximate dates of visit
  • Driver’s licenses will only be valid until the End Date on your I-20*.  If you’re leaving the U.S., it might not be worth it to renew.  If you’re staying in the U.S. after graduation, we suggest that you wait until your OPT is approved or until you receive your new I-20 for grad school before applying*.  You must apply in the state where you live, rules are different in each state – look up the BMV for that state if you move after graduation.
    • If you are applying for a Driver’s License, you can find links and information on the CGCE website.  If you are living on campus, you will need a letter from our office which you can request through F-1 Requests page under “Proof of Address Letter for BMV Request”
    • *Driver’s Licenses are supposed to be issued for 60 days past your End Date on your I-20, but Richmond does not seem to follow that rule.
    • *Driver’s Licenses are supposed to be issued for 1 year if you have a receipt for an OPT application, but Richmond does not seem to follow that rule until/unless OPT has been approved.
    • *You may have better luck if you apply at a different BMV – the closest branches are in New Castle, Connersville and Liberty
  • Car Insurance – rules vary from state to state so be sure to check them out before you purchase a car.  In Indiana, you must be able to prove Liability Insurance in order to register your car. (And it’s illegal to own a car without insuring it.)
  • Health Insurance
    • Earlham Student Health Insurance plan ends July 31
    • Having health insurance is important because health care in the U.S. is outrageously expensive, students on visas are not eligible for public assistance with bills, and an unexpected illness or injury could put you in a financial bind that may even require you to leave the U.S.  We strongly recommend that you purchase health insurance if your employer does not provide it.
    • Generally, starting the 5th year in U.S. you are considered a “Resident for tax purposes”.  When your tax status changes, you become subject to the ACA health insurance requirement and can be fined (when you file your taxes) if you cannot prove that you had health insurance.
    •  Here are a few health insurance options:
  • Information about renting apartments
    • Your contract is the final word and a legal document.  Read it very carefully, ask questions before signing.
    • You will likely be expected to pay a deposit and the first month’s rent when you sign the contract.
    • Ask how your landlord expects you to pay (in person, by mail, checks only? etc.)
    • You are expected to remove all of your possessions, leave everything that was in the apartment when you arrived, and clean the apartment when you move out.  The landlord can keep part of your deposit to cover cleaning fees and can charge you additional money if costs are higher than the deposit. 
    • (Tenants don’t have many rights in Indiana – this also varies in every state)
    • Only the people on the lease are allowed to live in the apartment.  Some leases even specify how many guests you’re allowed to have and how long they’re allowed to stay.  You cannot sub-let your apartment to others without permission from your landlord.
  • Taxes – since you are in the U.S. now (2020), you will need to file 2020 taxes in the spring.  We will send you invitations to use Sprintax software and you may use any of the help tools associated with that software.  You are also welcome to contact us if you need further assistance.
  • Watch for a request from student workers in CGCE for photos for our Final First Friday party. 
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Basics (more details on our website and in the OPT Information Sessions)
  • Optional Practical Training is employment authorization granted to F-1 students in order to provide the opportunity for 12 months of practical work experience directly related to their major field of study and commensurate with their educational level
  • Students are eligible for 12 months of OPT at each educational level (Associate’s, Bachelor’s, etc.)
  • Students who majored in STEM fields may apply for a 24-month STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) extension before the end of their 12-month Post-completion OPT
  • An application is required, and there is a $410 filing fee (This will go up to $550 as of Oct. 2, 2020)
  • Post-completion OPT must be full-time (over 20 hours)
 
Dates, Deadlines, & Timing
  • A student’s 12 months of OPT must be completed within 14 months of their Program End Date.
  • Students can apply no more than 90 days before their Program End Date (Feb 8th – if you’re not doing a May/EPIC term) and no more than 60 days after their Program End Date.
  • When you apply, you choose your Start and End Dates (so even if you apply in Feb, you could request a Start Date as late as 60 days after graduation)
  • Look out for announcements about our OPT Filing Party in the Spring (around the eligibility date for early filing)
  • The entire OPT application must be submitted (mailed) no more than 30 days after the OPT request has been made in SEVIS and the new I-20 is printed.
  • CGCE mails applications and charges shipping fees to students’ accounts – usually approximately $12-$15
  • The expected processing time for an OPT application is 3 – 5 months (even though you cannot apply until 3 months before your Program End Date).
  • Students are allowed up to 90 days of unemployment. Your unemployment clock does not start until “OPT Start Date”.  Students volunteering for at least 20 supervised hours per week in their major field do not accrue days of unemployment.
  • You are allowed to be self-employed on OPT but you must keep records of your time and activities and explain how they relate to your major.
  • The requested OPT Start Date cannot be more than 60 days after the Program End Date.
 
 
Travel
 
  • Your Employment Authorization Document (EAD/OPT card) will say “not valid for travel” because you still need your I-20, visa and passport.  However, you MUST carry your receipt (if your card hasn’t arrived yet) or your EAD card with you when you travel while on OPT.
  • The OPT application must be submitted prior to the student leaving the country after the Program End Date.
  • We ask you to put CGCE’s address on the application because we need a copy of your card and also because we will mail it to you wherever you are.  (OPT cards cannot be forwarded in the mail)
 
 
Notes from website regarding transferring in credits:
 
International Baccalaureate
Students who receive scores of 5, 6 or 7 on higher-level subject examinations of the International Baccalaureate (IB) may receive a range of credits as indicated below with a maximum of 18 semester hours.
 
IB Score Credits
5 3
6 4
7 5
An official copy of the test results must be sent to Earlham's Registrar for evaluation of credits.
  • No credit is awarded for Subsidiary-level courses.
  • It is not required that students be granted the IB diploma to receive transfer credit for an individual higher-level subject. These credits do not fulfill Earlham General Education Requirements. 

Advanced Placement
  • An AP score of 5 on the following exams earns the student 6 Earlham elective credits: English, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, any Foreign Language, History, Music, Physics B in year-long courses.
  • A score of 4 on these exams earns the student 3 elective credits.
  • A score of 4 or 5 on the following exams earns the student 3 Earlham elective credits: Economics–Micro and Macro, Politics–U.S. and Comparative, Physics C, Psychology in semester-long courses.
  • A score of 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus AB exam awards a student 3 elective credits.
  • A score or 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus BC exam awards a student 6 elective credits. A score of 4 or 5 on the "AB Subscore" portion of the Calculus BC exam awards a student 3 elective credits. Please note that if a student earns credits for the BC exam, the AB sub-score credits are not awarded. A maximum of six credits will be awarded for all AP Calculus scores.
  • A score of 4 or 5 on the AP Statistics exam awards a student 3 elective credits.
  • A maximum of 18 credits can be awarded.
  • No part of Earlham's General Education Requirement may be fulfilled by AP exams.
  • All incoming students with foreign language experience must take the Earlham Language Assessment to be correctly placed in or out of language classes, irrespective of AP credits.
  • Students may seek departmental approval for placement into non-introductory courses.