With the United States' continued involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan very much in the news, with broader concerns regarding the situation in the Middle East and with U.S. homeland security issues continuing to be of concern, there is uncertainty in some quarters regarding the advisability of long-distance travel. Barring an unforeseen catastrophe or circumstance, we do not anticipate any changes in the immediate future for student travel outside the United States. We are concerned for students who will need to renew their F-1 visa abroad, and whether they will have sufficient time to do so and return to UTS in order to begin the next trimester, given on-going security clearance requirements. Any student who feels uncomfortable or concerned about their travel plans in a time of uncertainty may prefer to cancel those plans. This is a personal decision. No one is capable of predicting the future.
If you are planning a trip over the Thanksgiving break or during intersession within the United States by car, bus, train or airplane, to U.S. cities near or far, it is essential that you have your passport and visa documents with you. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, there has been heightened security not only at all border crossings, but also at bus terminals, train terminals, and airports throughout the United States. Police from multiple agencies; federal, state and municipal, are patrolling these areas. People may be stopped and questioned randomly. Therefore, students are urged to be sure to have their passports, visa documents (I-94 card and I-20), and UTS student ID card with them for ALL distance travel, even travel within New York State. In addition, be sure that the third page of your SEVIS I-20 has an authorizing signature no older than May 2003. If you are applying for a change of non-immigrant status, visa petition or EAD card, be sure to carry your receipt notice as well, which proves that you have an application pending with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Processing Center.
1. Travel within the United States
Many students think that their passport and visa documents are only needed when traveling abroad. WRONG! If you are planning a trip within the United States by car, bus, train or airplane, to U.S. cities near or far, it is essential that you have your passport and visa documents with you. Since September 11, 2001, there has been heightened security not only at all border crossings, but also at bus terminals, train terminals, and airports throughout the United States. Police from multiple agencies; federal, state and municipal, may be patrolling these areas. People may be stopped and questioned randomly. Therefore, students are urged to be sure to have their passport, visa documents (I-94 card and SEVIS I-20), and UTS student ID card with them for ALL distance travel, even travel within New York State. In addition, be sure that your current I-20 has an authorizing signature for travel no older than May, 2003.
If you are applying for a change of non-immigrant status, visa petition or EAD card, be sure to carry your INS receipt notice as well, which proves that you have an application pending with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), formerly the INS. A person without valid travel documents can be arrested, threatened with deportation and taken into Department of Homeland Security (DHS) custody.
2. Travel to Canada or Mexico
For travel to Canada or Mexico, first check to see if a tourist visa will be required to enter either country. Information on Canadian tourist visas is available in the Office of International Student and Scholar Services. You will need to have your passport, visa documents (I-94 card and I-20), and UTS student ID card with you when you travel, and be certain that your I-20 has an authorizing signature no older than May 2003.
Last year, The U.S. Department of State announced new rules for non-immigrants who use the "automatic revalidation of visa" benefit [22 CFR 41.112(d)] to re-enter the United States after a 30-day or less visit to a "contiguous territory" (Canada, Mexico, and, in the case of F and J non-immigrants, the "adjacent islands other than Cuba") without having to obtain a new visa prior to re-entry.
First, citizens of "state sponsors of terrorism" (as designated in the State Department's annual "Patterns of Global Terrorism" report) are no longer eligible for the automatic revalidation of visa benefit. Section 306 of the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of 2002 lists the following countries as state sponsors of terrorism: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, and Cuba.. This means that a person who is a citizen of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, or Cuba in the United States in any non-immigrant classification can only enter Canada and return to the United States IF he or she has an unexpired multiple-entry U.S. visa in the passport for his or her current status.
The second change affects individuals who choose to apply for a new U.S. visa while in Canada or Mexico. Under the new rule, ANY non-immigrant (not just someone from the 7 countries listed above) who chooses to apply for a new visa while in Canada or Mexico will no longer be eligible for the "automatic revalidation" benefit during the course of that trip, but will have to wait until the visa is approved in order to re-enter the United States. If the U.S. visa application is denied, that individual will not be permitted to re-enter the United States, and will instead have to return to his or her home country. See Section 8 of this article, "Applying for a New U.S. Visa at a Consulate Abroad" for additional information on the visa application process.
However, non-immigrants traveling to Canada or Mexico for less than thirty days and returning to the United States (other than citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, and Cuba) who do not intend to apply for a new U.S. visa can still make use of the automatic revalidation benefit, and re-enter on their expired U.S. visas, as long as they have a valid, unexpired passport, their I-94 card, and a valid and signed SEVIS I-20.
SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT I-94 DEPARTURE CARDS: F-1 students with expired U.S. visas who are traveling to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands for up to 30 days, who will not be applying for a new U.S. visa while there, AND who will be resuming their studies upon their return should NEVER surrender their I-94 card. Canadian or Mexican nationals returning to their home country should surrender their I-94 card as they enter their country, and obtain a new I-94 card the next time they enter the United States. Canadian nationals should be sure to carry with them their financial documentation that verifies the information on their I-20 when getting ready to return to the United States.
3. Travel Abroad
Should I Travel Abroad?
Whether or not to travel abroad is a personal decision. With the matter of the United States' continued involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan very much in the news, with broader concerns regarding the situation in Israel and with U.S. Homeland Security issues continuing to be of concern, there is uncertainty in some quarters regarding the advisability of long-distance travel. Barring an unforeseen catastrophe or circumstance, we do not anticipate any changes in the immediate future for student travel outside the United States. We are concerned for students who will need to renew their F-1 visa abroad, and whether they will have sufficient time to do so and return to UTS in time to begin the January 2004 trimester, given on-going security clearance requirements. Any student who feels uncomfortable or concerned about their travel plans in a time of uncertainty may prefer to cancel those plans. No one is capable of predicting the future.
Students whose U.S. visas have expired and who will need to apply for new U.S. visas abroad should anticipate longer waiting periods to obtain a visa appointment, closer scrutiny of their visa documents, in person reviews, and possible security clearance delays. You are urged to check with the U.S. consulate or embassy where you will apply for the visa, or its web site link: http://travel.state.gov/links.html BEFORE leaving the United States to determine that particular post's policies and procedures, because much has changed in the past months. You should start the visa process at the earliest possible time upon your arrival back in your home country.
4. Pre-Departure Document Check
When was the last time you checked the expiration date in your passport? In order to travel, your passport MUST be valid at least six months into the future. Passports may be renewed at your country's embassy or consulate in the United States. If you have access to the world wide web, you can obtain up-to-date information on passport renewal. Point your web browser to http://www.embassy.org/embassies/
You should be traveling using your SEVIS I-20. However, be sure to save all of your previous I-20s, as they represent your immigration "history" in the United States. If you will need to apply for a new visa, check the front of your I-20 carefully to be sure the field of study, level of study, and source of funds are still correct. If you will need a new I-20, you must provide updated proof of financial support, unless current information is already on file. Allow three to five working days for the Admissions Office to prepare new visa documents for you.
Special Registration Applicants
If you were required to go through the special registration process within the past twelve months because you are male and from one of the 25 designated countries, there is a special exit procedure that you must follow before you can depart the United States. Generally, this exit procedure will take place at the airport where your overseas flight will depart. The exit procedure can add several hours to your departure schedule, so be certain to allow plenty of extra time so that you do not miss your flight! You should have been given information regarding the exit procedure when you went through your special registration inspection. For a list of designated exit ports and specific information on their locations and hours of operation, go to: http://uscis.gov/graphics/shared/lawenfor/specialreg/srindividuals.pdf
I-94 Arrival/Departure Card
You will need to surrender your I-94 card upon your departure from the United States. You will be issued a new I-94 card upon your re-entry to the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that it will now issue a new admission number each time a non-immigrant enters the United States. However, your SEVIS ID number (printed at the top right of your SEVIS I-20) will not change. SPECIAL NOTE: F-1 students with expired U.S. visas who are traveling to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands for up to 30 days AND who will be resuming their studies upon their return should NEVER surrender their I-94 card. Canadian or Mexican nationals returning to their home country should surrender their I-94 card as they enter their country, and obtain a new I-94 card the next time they enter the United States. Canadian nationals should be sure to carry with them their financial documentation that verifies the information on their I-20 when getting ready to return to the United States.
Check your U.S. visa stamp inside your passport. Has your visa stamp expired? If it is still valid, is it for multiple entry, or has the entry been used up? Finally, is the category for which the visa was issued the status you currently hold (for example, if your visa is F-2, are you currently in F-2 status or did that status change after you entered the United States)? If you are in F-1 status and traveling to Canada, Mexico, or islands adjacent to North America, you do not need a valid U.S. visa as long as you have been maintaining your status, have a valid passport and I-20 and are entering those countries for tourist purposes and your stay will be thirty days or less (you DO need a valid U.S. visa if you are a citizen of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, or Cuba). However, travel to all other countries will require that you have a valid U.S. visa before you may re-enter the United States. This is especially true if you changed your non-immigrant status while in the United States (for example, changed from F-2 to F-1). This will mean applying for a new visa at the U.S. consulate in the country you will visit. Be sure to see section 8, "Applying for a New Visa at a U.S. Consulate Abroad."
UTS ID Card
Carry your current UTS ID card with you as supporting documentation.
Letter of Certification
This is a letter issued by the Admissions Office that verifies that you are a student at UTS and that you are maintaining valid status. It is required for a new visa application. Any international student traveling outside the United States who will be applying for a new F-1 should request such a letter from the Admissions Office at least five days prior to travel.
Have you been maintaining the conditions of your non-immigrant status? If you are an F-1 student, this means maintaining full time registration each semester at the school you are authorized to attend, reporting changes of address to the Admissions Office within ten days, refraining from unauthorized employment, not letting your I-20 expire, and following the appropriate procedures for school transfer and extensions. If you think you may have violated the conditions of your status, be sure to speak to staff in the Admissions Office BEFORE departing the United States, as you may risk being denied permission to return.
Have an official copy of your UTS transcript with you ONLY if you will be applying for a new student visa abroad, to show the consular official that you have been making satisfactory progress towards your degree. An increasing number of consulates are beginning to ask for transcripts when students come to renew their student visas. In addition to the transcript, also have with you a printed copy of your Fall 2003 course registration, stamped by the Registrar's Office.
If you are visiting a country other than your own, you may need a visitor's visa to enter. If you have access to the world wide web, you can find out about entry requirements for other countries by pointing your web browser to http://www.embassy.org/embassies/
Documented proof of financial support that appears on your I-20 is only required if you will be applying for a new student visa abroad, OR if you are a national of Canada or Mexico who is traveling home to Canada or Mexico for the intersession break.
If you have completed your studies and have applied for Practical Training, you must have your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) with you, as well as your SEVIS I-20 endorsed for practical training, in order to re-enter the United States. If you are on Practical Training and will need to obtain a new F-1 visa before returning to the United States, it is strongly advised that you have with you a letter from your employer, verifying your employment status. Federal regulations state that an F-1 on authorized practical training may depart the country temporarily and re-enter the United States to "resume" employment, which means not only must you have a job offer, but employment must have already commenced. Students are warned that visa issuance for individuals on practical training can be highly problematic, since you may have a hard time proving that you do not intend to immigrate to the United States.
5. Baggage Inspection Requirements
The federal Transportation and Security Administration has recently instituted new screening procedures at domestic airports throughout the United States to improve security and passenger safety at airports and in planes. This can include the opening of locked check-through baggage without prior notice to the passenger.
Should a bag be selected for inspection, an inspector is required to use whatever means necessary to gain access to the bag. This may include breaking locks to access the contents. If a bag is opened, the TSA official will place a note inside the bag to let the owner know.
If you plan to travel by airplane, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the new procedures that may have been implemented since the last time you traveled. Detailed information on security, access requirements, checkpoints for passengers and baggage, permitted and prohibited items, and recommendations for travel preparation is available at http://www.TSATraveltips.us A list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the new procedures can be found at http://18.104.22.168/public/faq.jsp
6. Watch Your Words
Several years ago, two international students from Syracuse University were escorted off an airplane at Hancock Airport in Syracuse and were closely questioned by legal authorities. Passengers became concerned and notified security officials when the students began to ask questions about the flight time, the engine, and other matters about the flight. It turned out that one of the students suffers from motion sickness and was worried about the possible turbulence in this type of aircraft, and how long it would be in the air relative to his medication for air sickness! They were both quite "innocent," and allowed to continue their trip. However, it caused a serious delay in the travel plans of all the passengers, and great anxiety, as you can imagine, for the students and all the passengers. These students were NOT part of any particular ethnic, cultural or religious group which would have 'targeted' them, so one cannot look at this situation as discrimination or "racial profiling." People around them who overheard their questions of the flight attendants were just frightened, and the airplane personnel had to respond.
This incident is a good example of why it is best to be cautious and discrete in your conversations while traveling.
7. U.S. Immigration Requirements
If You are Leaving UTS Permanently
UTS staff are often asked what the immigration requirements are if a student will no longer be continuing at UTS, either because the student is returning to his/her home country, or is beginning Practical Training, or because the student is going to begin study at a new school.
Regardless of your plans, retain your old I-20s! These forms represent your immigration history in the United States and should be kept in a safe place as you would any important document. In addition, you must complete a departure/change of address form.
The U.S. federal regulatory process for transferring your F-1 status from UTS to a new school requires that you notify the Admissions Office of your intent to transfer. There is a SEVIS "release" process which must be followed, or else your new school cannot issue you an I-20. The SEVIS Release Form is available in the Admissions Office. Also, it's important that you follow your new school's instructions for reporting to the International Student Office at the beginning of your semester there.
Students who will be ending their studies in June but have no plans to apply for practical training (F-1), or continue at a new school or in a new field or level of study, or seek a change of non-immigrant status must depart the United States within sixty days of graduation or completion of their academic program if they are in F-1 status.
8. Applying for a new Visa at a U.S. Consulate Abroad
If you need to apply for a new F-1 visa during your trip abroad, first check the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate where you plan to apply to obtain the latest information on non-immigrant visa processing and delays by visiting http://travel.state.gov/links.html You should do this while you are still in the United States! If visa delays prevent you from returning to the United States in time to renew your studies in January, better to know this while you are still here so that you have time to cancel your trip!
Any student who is traveling outside the United States whose U.S. visa has expired will need to renew it at a U.S. visa issuing post abroad before the student can return to the United States. In most cases, the visa application will be filed in your home country. Its important to note that the winter holiday period is an extremely busy time at visa issuing posts due to the large numbers of travelers and reduced staff who may be taking vacation. Also, in the event of any protests, threats, or terrorist attacks that are judged to be threatening to U.S. embassy or consulate personnel, government officials at those posts may temporarily close or alter their operational hours.
Appointments are now required for virtually all non-immigrant visa applications, even at U.S. embassies and consulates located in countries that didn't previously require appointments. This has resulted in significant delays at some U.S. visa issuing posts abroad.
Allow plenty of time for the visa application process, and begin the process as soon as possible after you arrive home.
The State Department has also prepared two information sheets about student visas on its web site which may be useful to you as an international student. They may be obtained at
Security Concerns and Special Registration
Individuals from Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria will not be eligible to obtain a new non-immigrant visa unless it can be determined that the individual does not pose a security threat.
Males between the ages of 16 and 45 from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen who will need to renew their U.S. visas while abroad will be required to undergo security checks that may lengthen the processing time for their visa applications.
These same individuals will be subject to "special registration" upon their return to the United States. "Special registration" is part of the legislation passed by the U.S. Congress since the attacks of September 11, 2001. The U.S. government has developed a National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) to help monitor the arrivals and departures of foreign nationals.
Individuals subject to "special registration" are fingerprinted, photographed and questioned under oath upon entry into the United States and must report back to a Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services Office 30 days after entering the United States, and annually thereafter. This list can be expanded at anytime with the publication of additional countries in the Federal Register.
Technology Alert List and Sensitive Areas of Study
Students who are considered to be majoring in "sensitive areas of study" as determined by the U.S. government may also be required to undergo security clearances before a visa can be issued. There is a document called the "Technology Alert List" that visa officers consult for this purpose. China, India, Israel, Pakistan and Russia have received special mention by the U.S. State Department in the context of this list because these countries are considered to possess nuclear capability that is of concern to U.S. national security.
Your visa application might have to undergo a security clearance REGARDLESS of the country you are from. Such clearances can add weeks to the amount of time needed for visa approval. If you find that your visa application is delayed due to a need for the consulate or embassy to send your file for review based on your field of study, please notify the Admissions Office by e-mail, fax or telephone of the situation.
Visa officials are required to verify your record in the SEVIS system before a visa can be approved. This is also true for any dependents. There have been data transfer problems of some SEVIS records between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State that have resulted in lost information. If the visa official is unable to access your record in SEVIS and you have a SEVIS I-20, please contact the Admissions Office by e-mail, phone or fax to alert us to the problem.
Visa Application Requirements
To apply for a new visa, you will need to complete application form DS-156 "Non-Immigrant Visa Application" and DS-158 "Contact Information and Work History for Non-Immigrant Visa Applicant." If you are male, you must also complete the DS-157, the "Supplemental Non-Immigrant Visa Application." Note that consular officers reserve the right to require a DS-157 from any applicant for any visa classification. You may download these forms: http://travel.state.gov/DS-0156.pdf, http://travel.state.gov/DS-0158.pdf, and http://travel.state.gov/DS-0157.pdf These forms are also available as paper copies at any U.S. visa issuing post abroad.
You will also need one photograph 1 and 1/2 inches square, showing full face, without head covering, against a light background. You will need to have sufficient currency to pay the required visa fees, or a receipt showing that you have paid the visa fees. You will need your SEVIS I-20 form. You will want to have a letter of certification from the Admissions Office, verifying your enrollment as well as the fact that you have been maintaining valid F-1 status.
You will also need to show proof of financial support, binding ties to your home country which you have no intentions of abandoning, and that you plan to return to your home country upon the conclusion of your studies. Some U.S. consulates will ask you how you plan to use your U.S. education in your home country. Many consulates will ask you to present copies of your academic transcripts to prove that you have been maintaining student status in the United States and that you have been making satisfactory progress in your program. Plan to have copies with you, but do not present it to a consular officer unless specifically asked to do so.
Visa Applications in Canada or Mexico
New U.S. State Department regulations that took effect in April 2002 state that any non-immigrant who chooses to apply for a new visa while in Canada or Mexico (but is not a citizen of either of those two countries) and whose visa application is subsequently denied will not be permitted to re-enter the United States. So, international students should consider this matter carefully when applying for a U.S. visa in Canada or Mexico.
9. Strategies for a Successful Re-entry into the United States
Procedures at the U.S. ports of entry will be different to accommodate new SEVIS requirements as well as US-VISIT requirements. Immigration and customs are now managed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. You will see ICE officers at all U.S. ports of entry. You may also be required to go through a pre-inspection procedure at certain airports abroad.
UTS encourages students to have their current UTS ID card with them as back up identification. However, when you give your documents to the ICE inspector at your U.S. port of entry or pre-boarding checkpoint, you should initially present only your passport, I-94 card (which was distributed on the airplane), and signed SEVIS I-20. Your UTS ID card and other materials are meant to be used only for "supporting documentation" purposes, if you are asked additional questions or asked to produce additional documentation.
A ICE official who is presented with more documents than is customarily required might become suspicious, so you are well advised to show only your passport, I-94 and I-20. Then you have the comfort of knowing that you have additional supporting documentation with you if needed.
Expect close scrutiny of your documents. Answer all questions politely and briefly. Do not offer any information that goes beyond the scope of the question asked you.
ICE officials are required to record your arrival data into SEVIS at the time you enter, and return your SEVIS I-20 to you, after they have stamped it. However, not all ICE officials will have access to SEVIS at their booths in the "primary lanes." Depending upon the port of entry, some students may be directed to a secondary inspection area or "student lanes" so that their data can be entered into SEVIS. ICE is advising that processing at land, sea, and airports may take more time, so travel and connecting flight plans should take this into account.
Individuals subject to "special registration" will be directed to a separate area following their initial immigration inspection where they will be fingerprinted, photographed and questioned under oath. This may add significant delays to the amount of time spent at the airport. If traveling on a connecting flight, allow plenty of time. You must report back to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office 30 days after entering the United States, and annually thereafter. The list of those subject to "special registration" can be expanded at anytime with the publication of additional countries in the Federal Register.
Additionally, the INS has the discretion to requiring any foreign national, regardless of nationality, to undergo special registration if they are considered a national security risk. The discretionary factors relating to national security risk may include dual citizenship with one of the designated countries, a foreign national's unexplained trips to certain designated countries, other instances of unexplained travel, previous visa violations, people who by their "behavior, demeanor, or answers" demonstrate that they should be monitored while in the United States, and characteristics determined by intelligence profiles. Because of the broad and discretionary nature of the criteria, many non-immigrants could be subjected to special registration.
U.S. Visitor and Immigration Status Indicator Technology, is a new entry/exit record keeping system for all non-immigrants traveling to and from the United States. It will begin to be installed at most U.S. airports beginning in early January, so some students returning from abroad may encounter it
In addition to the usual inspection procedure conducted by ICE officers, each non-immigrant will have their fingerprints taken by placing their index fingers on an inkless fingerprint scanner. A photograph will also be taken. Eventually, there will also be an exit procedure, which will require non-immigrants to scan their travel documents and repeat the fingerprinting process prior to departing the United States.
Entry and exit enhancements at land borders (Canada and Mexico) will be phased in during 2005 and 2006.
In certain cases, if there is some problem with your documents, you may be issued a 30-day entry on your I-94 card and issued a form I-515, usually with instructions to see your international student advisor. Examine your I-94 card carefully as you leave the immigration booth. F-1 students should have their I-94s marked "D/S" which means Duration of Status, along with a stamp indicating the date you entered the United States. If an expiration date is written on the I-94 instead of "D/S," and you are in F status, come to the Admissions Office as soon as possible.
Anyone who is denied admission at a U.S. port of entry should be very cautious about arguing with the immigration official. You may risk being issued "expedited removal," which now entails a five-year bar on admission to the U.S. If you are denied admission, first try to contact the Admissions Office for assistance, but also make it known to the Immigration Official that you are willing to withdraw your application for admission to the country rather than be subject to expedited removal.
10. Keeping your Valuables safe while you Travel
The following information on laptop computer security is also applicable for other items of value such as briefcases and carry-on bags while you are in domestic or international travel status:
Items left unattended for even a very brief period have become a premium target for theft. Every traveler should remain on constant alert as they traverse through all airports. Here are some common examples of methods used by thieves to separate you from your belongings.
One method involved the use of security x-ray machines. The first thief precedes the traveler through the security check point and then loiters around the area where the carry-on luggage had already been examined. When the traveler places his laptop computer or bag onto the conveyer belt of the x-ray machine, the second thief steps in front of the traveler and sets off the metal detector.
While the traveler is being delayed, the first thief removes the traveler's laptop computer or bag from the conveyor belt just after it has gone through the x-ray machine and quickly disappears.
Another method of theft can occur while the traveler is walking through a crowd of people in the airport terminal. The traveler, who may have a laptop computer or small bag on top of his or her roll bag, is preceded by the first thief. Just as the traveler gets around the crowd of people, the first thief stops abruptly, causing the traveler to stop abruptly. When they stop momentarily, a second thief, who had been following just behind them, quickly removes the traveler's laptop computer or small bag from the roll bag and disappears into the crowd.
All travelers, both international and domestic, are urged to be alert to the above methods used in stealing valuable items and always be mindful of any abrupt diversions during your travels. Report any losses immediately to the authorities. Keep serial numbers, make, and model information of your laptop computers, or of any items of value, separate from the item so you can give precise information to authorities if the items are stolen.
11. Visiting New York City
The International House in New York City has traditional student dormitory-style single rooms, apartment shares, and studio and one bedroom apartments. Facilities include a dining room, fitness center, music practice rooms, study rooms, and gymnasium. Accommodations are available for a few days or a few months. University students, scholars, faculty, international trainees, and interns are eligible to stay there.
For more information, contact:
Admissions, International House, 500 Riverside Drive, NYC, NY 10027-3916,
Tel: (212) 316-8434 FAX: (212) 316-1827
. or WWW: http://
Another option is Educational Housing, a not-for-profit corporation which provides affordable housing for long or short term stays in New York City.
Tel: (800) 297-4694 x313
or WWW: http://www.studenthousing.org
12. Sales Tax Refunds
Students sometimes ask if it is possible for them to receive a refund of the sales tax they paid for goods and services in the United States upon their departure. In the U.S., sales tax on goods and services is set by each of the fifty states, and state entities (such as cities and counties), not by the U.S. government. Each state and state entity determines what the sales tax will be (always a percent of the purchase price) and what items will and will not be assessed a sales tax.
Therefore, it is not possible for an overseas visitor to obtain a refund of the sales tax for a purchase made in the U.S. upon their departure. The best "official" explanation comes from the Office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, "Foreign visitors to the United States frequently confuse the state sales tax with the value-added tax (VAT). The state sales tax is a small tax on purchases or services, calculated at the time of purchase, which individual states assess and which the U.S. federal government neither determines nor receives. The VAT, on the other hand, is a national tax commonly applied in foreign countries that is included in the actual sales price rather than at the time of purchase. The United States does not have a VAT, and the federal government cannot refund state sales taxes.
State taxes are generally not charged to diplomats or employees of some international organizations who have been issued a tax-exemption card. This card must be presented at the time of purchase in order for sales taxes to be waived.
Also, many states do not charge tax on items shipped out of state. Ask about state sales-tax policies in the state where you make your purchases."
13. Shipping Books and other Items Overseas
A very inexpensive way to send large quantities of books overseas is to use the U.S. Postal Service's M-bags (large, canvas duffel bags) for "bound, printed matter." For more information, visit the Postal Service's website at: http://pe.usps.gov/text/pub51/pub51.html and scroll down to "M-Bags." The rates are sometimes about half the usual parcel post rate. Each bag needs to weigh at least 11 pounds and no more than 66 pounds with all boxes addressed to the same recipient. Books are packaged by the sender in small boxes, with the destination address clearly written inside and outside each package. Take the boxes to any major post office and ask for an "M-Bag". Your boxes of books are then placed in the huge canvas sack (a.k.a. the "M-Bag"), the bag is closed and addressed to your destination, and the postage is affixed to the bag tag. The bag can be shipped via air or boat (economy), and the books should go from the point of mailing to the destination post office without even being taken out of the bag. This tends to increase the likelihood of their safe and intact arrival. Even if one of the packages breaks open in handling, the contents stay in the M-bag.
14. SHIPPING COMPANIES
If you choose not to use the U.S. Postal Service's M-Bags, or if you are shipping items other than books, you may want to use the services of the following companies to ship large items overseas. Call or write to them for information:
International Sea and Air Shipping Corp.
8 Connerty Court
East Brunswick, NJ 08816
American Baggage Inc.
236 Pleasant St., Methuen, Ma. 01844
(800) 752-6773 (USA and Canada) or (978) 975-0142
ABACO International Shippers, Inc.
4201 West Wrightwood Ave.
Chicago, IL 60639
34-37 65th St., P.O. Box 1112
Woodside, NY 11377
Federal Express International
United Parcel Service