Current International Students

Current International Students

This information is designed to help you make the most of your Siena College experience. Send us an email to make an appointment, give us a call, or stop by for a visit. We're here for YOU!


Campus Resources

Health and Wellness

Siena College Health Services, located in the lower level of the Marcelle Commons Building in the Townhouse Complex, is open 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday during the academic year. Nurses, nurse practitioners and physician consultants are available for common ailments and health maintenance. Should a non-emergency medical need arise, the Health Services staff can refer you to the appropriate resource. Call (518) 783-2554 for more information, or to schedule an appointment.

Located in Foy Hall (Room 110), the Counseling Center can help you handle overwhelming feelings of anxiety, homesickness, culture shock, or depression. Call 518-783-2342 for details or to schedule an appointment.

International students are encouraged to take advantage of Siena's excellent athletic and fitness facilities. There are also many opportunities to participate in intramural and club sports. Learn more here: Athletic Facilities and Intramural Schedule

Tutoring Services/English-Language Support

  • The Writing Center provides tutoring in academic writing and English-language support. They will be able to help with class writing assignments, research papers, lab reports and essays. You can also email the Director, Anne Godson-Glynn, at aglynn@siena.edu
  • You may also arrange for a tutor (in a group or individually) in any academic subject through Tutoring Services.
  • If you require additional English-language support, please contact our Assistant Director and ESOL Specialist, Dr. Melody Nadeau, at mnadeau@siena.edu.

Career Services

For international students interested in Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT), or simply seeking any kind of employment or postgraduate study in the United States, a visit to the Career Center (Foy Hall 203) is a must. Please visit the Career Center's website to schedule an appointment.

Immigration and Maintaining Status

Immigration and Maintaining Status

In order to be able to complete your degree/program, it's incredibly important that you maintain your status as a student. We're here to help, but you need to be an expert too. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) provides international students with clear, concise guidelines for maintaining student immigration status. Carefully review the Maintaining Your Status website and let us know if you have any questions or concerns. Remember, when in doubt, ask your Designated School Official (DSO)!  At Siena, your DSO is Meg Verret.

What is F-1 "Status"?

To be in F-1 “status” means that you have entered the U.S. in the F-1 visa category (student) and are complying with all regulations that apply to the F-1 visa category (see below). To maintain status, F-1 students must be full-time students and are expected to complete their studies by the end date on their Form I-20 issued by Siena College.  F-1 students can remain in the US up to 60 days beyond their program end date.

Below are actions to take in order to properly maintain your status:

Arrival 
When arriving to the United States, F-1 students must:

  • Enter the United States no more than 30 days before your program of study begins,
  • Immediately contact your DSO when you enter the United States.
  • Meet with your DSO during the first week of every semester for SEVIS registration

Education
While studying in the United States, F-1 students must:

  • Attend and pass all your classes. If school is too difficult, speak with your DSO immediately.
  • If you believe that you will be unable to complete your program by the end date listed on your Form I-20, talk with your DSO about requesting a possible program extension.
  • You must take a full course of study each term; if you cannot study full-time, contact your DSO immediately.
  • Do not drop a class without first speaking with your DSO.

Work and Practical Traning for F-1 Students

An F-1 student may only work when authorized by a DSO in some cases, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in others. If you choose to work without authorization, you will be forced to leave the United States immediately, and you may not be able to re-enter the United States at a later date.

For more information about employment and training options available for F-1 students, visit the Government’s Working in the United States page, Siena’s Working in the USA page and always talk with your DSO.

Period of Authorized Stay and Departure

Your admission to the U.S. in F-1 status is for "duration of status” – this is the authorized length of time you are studying in the US as indicated on your Form I-20. F-1 status covers the period when you are a full-time registered student making normal progress toward your degree (or exchange program), plus an optional period of practical training following completion of studies, plus a 60-days "grace period" to prepare to depart the U.S. or change to another status. Your length of authorized stay is not related to your F-1 visa expiration date. The F-1 visa is specifically for entry into the U.S. The F-1 visa might expire before your status expires, and your status might end before your visa expires.

Status refers to the amount of time given to you to complete your Siena program as indicates on your Form I-20.

Visa refers only to the sticker placed into your passport which allows you to lawfully entry into the United States.

Talk with your DSO First

As an F-1 student, your DSO should be the first person you talk with if you have any questions regarding the legal requirements of your stay in the United States. Your DSO can assist in answering your questions or help you find someone who can help.

F-1 students must speak with their DSO if you are planning to do any of the following:

  • Change your major, program, or degree level,
  • Change your education level,
  • Transfer to a new school or take a leave of absence,
  • Take a break from school,
  • Travel outside the United States,
  • Move to a new address,
  • Request a program extension.

Working in the USA

On-Campus Employment

Remember, you should always speak with your DSO before pursuing any kind of employment as it could effect your status in the U.S.

Your F-1 student status permits you to work on-campus. You must maintain F-1 status to be eligible for this employment benefit; maintaining status means that you are a full-time registered student (except for approved exceptions) in good academic standing with a valid I-20. When school is in session, you may only work 20 hours per week.

If you are interested in finding an on-campus job, you should meet with the Career Center to set up an account on CareerSaint. This database advertises both on-campus and off-campus jobs. Filter your search to only look for on-campus payroll jobs. On-campus jobs are also advertised on flyers posted around campus—in the SSU, office bulletin boards, etc.  You may also talk to the Center for International Programs for suggestions about on-campus employment.  Be sure to start searching early in the semester while jobs are still open.

Once you secure a job, you must meet with your DSO for approval and to learn about the next step: getting a Social Security number. 

In order to have a more productive meeting, please be sure you carefully read our Social Security Application Checklist, and that you come prepared. Your DSO will be happy to answer any questions or help you complete any paperwork.

Early on during the fall and spring semesters, the Center for International Programs offers transportation to the Social Security Office in Albany. Please monitor your email for announcements, or ask your DSO when transportation might be provided.

After you apply for your Social Security number, you must contact the Payroll Department to complete the necessary paperwork. You may begin work while your Social Security Application is being processed.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is a temporary authorization for off-campus employment directly related to your field of study. Your field of study is the major listed on your I-20. CPT can only be authorized by your DSO and you will need a new Form I-20 indicating a recommendation for employment. Your CPT employment must be for college credit. If you are thinking about an off-campus internship, you should meet with your DSO the semester before you intend to work.

CPT may be part-time (20 hours per week or less) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week) and paid or un-paid. If you accumulate 12 months of full-time CPT authorization, you lose your eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT), another type of employment authorization for F-1 students. Part-time CPT and fewer than 12 months of full-time CPT authorization does not affect your OPT eligibility.

To request CPT authorization, you must make an appointment with your DSO, and complete our CPT Request Form.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT is the opportunity for work experience in one’s field of study. The Center for International Programs recommends a student for OPT, but USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service) gives the authorization. An F-1 student is eligible for up to 12 months total, either before or after graduation. Most international students apply for post-completion OPT early on in their final semester at Siena. This allows plenty of time to job search (you do not need to have a job offer to apply for OPT), and then to begin working as soon as possible after graduation.

For full information on the OPT application process, and to schedule an appointment, please contact your DSO. Please read our OPT Overview and Application Process before your meeting.

17-month STEM Extension

Students who graduate with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math) degree may be eligible to remain in the United States for an additional 17 months on an OPT STEM extension. For full information on this special program, please click here.

H-1B Status

The H-1B visa is temporary employment authorization for a nonimmigrant who performs services in a specialty occupation. An employer may petition for an H-1B visa on your behalf if the employer, position, and employee meet the criteria for H-1B status.

H-1B visas are VERY difficult to obtain and require employers to make a significant financial investment in you. Although a bachelor's degree is considered the minimum qualification, many individuals with advanced degrees are also seeking these visas. Please review all information here.

If you'd like to learn more, the Center for International Programs or the Career Center may be able to provide you with additional resources.

Tax Information

Do I Have to File?

Yes! All international students are required to report to the U.S. tax service (known as the Internal Revenue Service) each year — even if they did not work during the prior year. You will not necessarily need to pay taxes; but you must at least report your presence in the U.S. This is a legal requirement.

International students are not permitted to file electronically, you must file paper forms. The tax filing deadline is April 15, no exceptions, so please do not wait until the last minute. If you have any questions, please email Meg Verret, Assistant Director of International Programs.

*Please note: If you first arrived in the U.S. on or after January 1, 2015 and if you were not present in the U.S. at all during 2014, you currently have no tax filing obligations — but you will need to file next year, so check back then on what to do.

How Should I Prepare to File?

Gather the following information and documents you may need. (Note: You may not need or have some of these documents; this is simply a list of all materials you could possibly need.)

  • Passport, visa, I-94 record
  • Your entry and exit dates for all past U.S. visits
  • Your I-20 or other immigration documents
  • Social Security (SSN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN), if you have one
  • Current U.S. Address AND Permanent Foreign Address
  • Name of Educational Institution or Sponsoring Organization
  • Form(s) W-2, 1042-S, 1099
  • Copy of past year's tax forms (if you had any)

What Forms do I Need to File?

There are several different scenarios that may apply to you as a Siena College international student. Please read each scenario below, determine which category you fall into, and prepare the indicated forms.

1. I am an international student, and I had no earned income in 2014. Nor did I receive a W-2. What am I required to file?
Any international student who did not have any earned income (and who did not receive a W-2) in 2014 is still required to file a Form 8843 with the IRS. Anyone who received a W-2 should proceed to #2 below. 

Note: All students and scholars in F-1 and J-1 nonimmigrant status, and their F-2/J-2 dependents are required to file the IRS Form 8843 regardless of whether or not they have income in the U.S.

2. I worked for Siena College (or for another employer) in 2014, and I have a W-2 for wages earned and taxes paid. What am I required to file?
An individual who received a W-2 and who was employed in the U.S. in 2014 is required to file a Federal Tax Return and a State Tax Return. State Tax Returns may be required for each state in which you were employed. We will cover information specific to New York State.

Federal Return: All nonresident aliens for tax purposes who earned income in the U.S. in 2014 must complete and file the Form 1040NR or, if eligible, Form 1040NR-EZ. Note: Most Siena College international students are eligible to complete the far simpler 1040NR-EZ form.

State Return: Siena College international students should complete Form IT-203.

Note: All nonresident aliens are also required to complete and submit Form 8843 as well. 

3. I am a student who received scholarship or fellowship funds, but did not receive a W-2 for earned income. What am I required to file?
If a nonresident alien only has a 1042-S, and not a W-2, such as someone who has only received scholarship/fellowship payments or if all of their income is exempt under a tax treaty, they should fill out Form 1040NR or, if eligible, Form 1040NR-EZ. Again, most Siena College international students should fill out the much simpler 1040NR-EZ. 

Note: All nonresident aliens are also required to complete and submit Form 8843 as well. All state and federal forms come with detailed instructions. Please read them carefully.

4. I am a student who received scholarship or fellowship funds AND I worked for Siena College (or another employer) in 2013, and I have received both a W-2 for earned income AND a 1042-S for scholarship/fellowship payments. What am I required to file?
Please follow the instructions as outlined in #2 above. You will need your W-2 and 1042-S to complete you federal return (Form 1040NR-EZ). You will need only your W-2 to complete your New York State return (Form IT-203).

Note: Once again, ALL international students must file Form 8843.

Where Can I Learn More?

The IRS provides instructions for all forms required of international students. Read them carefully:

If, after reading the information on this site, you have more questions, please make an appointment to meet with the Assistant Director of International Programs, Meg Verret. 

Disclaimer

The information contained on this site does not constitute professional tax advice. The Center for International Programs is able to provide general advice and information, and direction to resources. We cannot make determinations or recommendations on your individual tax situation, and it is your responsibility to file correctly based on your individual situation. The information housed here is not a substitute for advice obtained from the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) or from a qualified tax professional. 

Travel Tips and Information

Important!

Before you travel, it's always a good idea to speak with someone in the Center for International Programs first. If you plan to travel outside the United States, for example, you may need to have your I-20 signed, or there may be immigration/status issues that you are unaware of. Better safe than sorry!

Air Travel

The Albany International Airport (ALB) is located just minutes from Siena College, servicing the continental U.S., as well as Canada and Mexico.

Carriers with service to/from Albany include:

There is regular taxi service between Albany International Airport and Siena College. Albany taxis generally do not have meters, so be sure you ask what the fare will be before getting into the taxi.

Bus Travel

Siena College students enjoy free travel on ALL Capital District Transit Authority (CDTA) buses. You must swipe your SaintCard (ID Card) when boarding. Buses depart Siena College regularly. For full schedule information, click here: http://www.cdta.org/

The CDTA Bus (#182) can even be taken all the way to the Greyhound Bus Terminal in downtown Albany!

MEGABUS
Quick, convenient, and low-cost bus service is available to New York City via Megabus. For tickets and schedules, click here.

The Megabus terminal is located in the longterm parking lot of the Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak Train Station in Rensselaer, NY, about 10-15 minutes from Siena College at:

525 East St
Rensselaer, NY 12144

GREYHOUND/TRAILWAYS
Regular service to New York, Boston, Buffalo/Niagara Falls, Montreal and beyond is offered via Greyhound/Trailways. For tickets and schedule, click here.

The Albany Greyhound Terminal is located in downtown Albany at the following address:

34 Hamilton St
Albany, NY 12207

Train Travel

The Albany-Rensselaer Train Station is one of the busiest in the United States, with Amtrak offering daily service (10-12 trains per day) to New York City and points beyond. Click here for tickets and schedules.

525 East St
Rensselaer, NY 12144

Driving in New York State

If you have an international license you can drive in the United States for a brief period of time. However, you will not be able to purchase, register or insure a vehicle. For some more long-term ideas on how to drive in the U.S., see below.

Zipcars

Need a car? Borrow a Zipcar! International students are fully eligible to use Zipcars!

Siena College has partnered with Zipcar to bring self-service, on-demand car sharing to the area. To use Zipcars, simply register as a member, reserve a car online or by phone, use your Zipcard to enter the car, and drive away. When you’re done, return the car to the same location where you picked it up.

As a member you get:

  • Access to Zipcars 24/7.
  • Discounted hourly rates for faculty, staff and students age 18 and older.
  • Rates start at just $7.50/hour or $69/day.
  • Gas, insurance and maintenance are included for free!
  • Join for only $25 a year, and receive $35 in driving credit your first month.

Learn more and get started by clicking here!

Getting a License

Applying for a NYS license

To apply for a NYS license, you must have more than one year left on your I-20. If this requirement is met, follow these steps:

  • Take all of your paperwork – the I-20, F visa, passport and I-94 card – to the Department of Motor Vehicles located at 224 South Pearl Street in Albany. The phone number is 1-800-225-5368.
  • After filing the forms, you will be given a paper test of traffic signals and driving skills.
  • Once the paper test is passed, you may schedule a driving test. If passed, you will receive your license for a fee.

For more detailed information, visit the Department of Motor Vehicles website.

Register, Inspection, Insurance Costs

Once you receive a NYS license, you are eligible to purchase, register and insure your own vehicle. You cannot own and operate a car that is not registered and insured. Registering your vehicle costs about $40 per year; annual inspections, which can be performed at any auto repair shop, cost about $15-20; and insurance can cost about $1,000 per year for someone in your age group.

Things to do

At the Center for International Programs, we love the blog, alloveralbany.com. Check out the "Stuff to Do" section, which gives great suggestions for concerts to see, activities and restaurants to try, museum exhibits, plays, comedy shows, etc.

The Siena College website also has a great site called, Things to do Locally.

Use the schedule below to plan your travel over the next 12 months! Don't forget that during certain vacations/holidays, students are required to leave their dorms or must request special permission to stay on campus. Before making travel arrangements, make sure you check with Community Living and the Center for International Programs to confirm if/when you will be required to leave campus and when you will be permitted to return. 

Vacation/HolidayDates
Christmas/New Year'sDecember 17, 2017 - January 16, 2018
Winter BreakFebruary 22 - 23, 2018
Spring Break/Easter HolidayMarch 26 - 30, 2018
Summer VacationMay 6 - September 4, 2017
Labor DaySeptember 4, 2017
Fall HolidayOctober 12, 2018
Thanksgiving BreakNovember 21 - 23, 2018
Christmas/New Year'sDecember 16 2018 - January 14, 2019