• Life in the United States

    Processes and procedures both at the University of Charleston and in the United States in general can seem confusing at first. Let the Office of International Programs help you navigate life in the U.S.A.

    • Health and Immunization Policies

      Health Insurance

      As an F-1 student, you are required to carry health insurance. You are automatically enrolled in the University of Charleston’s affiliate health insurance plan at the start of every school year. If you have a private plan that you wish to substitute, you must complete the UC health insurance waiver process.

      The UC health insurance waiver must be submitted to the Office of International Programs in person or by e-mail approximately 3 weeks before the start of each school year. In order to qualify for a health insurance waiver, the coverage must meet health insurance requirements set forth by the University of Charleston and the U.S. Government.

      The requirements are as follows:

      • Is valid for the entire year;
      • Provides medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness;
      • Offers repatriation benefits of at least $25,000;
      • Offers medical evacuation benefits of at least $50,000;
      • Offers a deductible that does not exceed $500 per accident or illness.

      Documentation which includes a copy of your policy and insurance card indicating the enrollment period must be submitted with the waiver documents. Waiver documents for the following school year and detailed instructions are e-mailed to returning students before the end of the current school year.


      Immunization Policy

      The following immunizations are required:

      • MMR (measles, mumps and rubella)
      • Hepatitis B
      • Meningococcal Meningitis

      In addition to the required immunizations listed above, all international students must provide documentation of having had a Tuberculin Skin (PPD) or T-spot blood test to screen for tuberculosis (TB) within six months prior to enrollment in the university regardless of prior BCG immunizations. If the results of either test are positive, a chest x-ray is required.

      Students who choose to leave the country during any of the school breaks or holidays will need to complete a Tuberculosis Screening Form upon their return. Students who do not comply with the TB policy will be unable to enroll for classes in the subsequent semester and will be asked to live off campus until compliance is documented. A student may request a waiver from tuberculin skin testing if the student is from a country that has been identified by the Centers for Disease Control as having low prevalence of tuberculosis.


      Penalty for Noncompliance

      If a student fails to comply with the immunization policy, the university will notify Student Solutions who will place a hold on the student’s registration until the requirements are met and assess a fee for no more than $50 to the student’s account to cover the administrative expenses entailed.

      Additionally, if the student is a resident in university housing and fails to comply with the immunization requirements, he/she will be removed from university housing until such time as the student comes into compliance and can provide appropriate documentation.

    • Social Security Number Information

      Getting a Social Security Number

      • If you work on campus or as a part of your CPT/OPT, you will need a Social Security number. NOTE: You must wait to apply until at least two weeks after the start of classes to apply for your social security number.
      • You obtain a Social Security number from the Social Security Administration. The Social Security office is located at 500 Quarrier Street in Charleston. The phone number is 1-888-527-9305 . Visit their website to find their operating hours.
      • Take the following documents with you:
        • Passport
        • I-94 (access and print your I-94 through this link: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home,
        • I-20,
        • Letter or statement from your employer on school letterhead that includes the following information:
          • name of the F-1 student employee;
          • description of the employment;
          • anticipated or actual employment start date no more than 30 days in the future at the time of application for an SSN;
          • number of hours the student is expected to work;
          • employer identity number (EIN);
          • employer contact information, including the telephone number and the name of the F1 student’s immediate supervisor;
          • verification of the employment status (i.e. student has been hired);
          • original signature with signatory’s title and date.
        • Letter or statement from the DSO on school letterhead (Note: To request this letter, take the letter from your employer to the front desk of the SLE office)
          • printed or typed, name, signature, and telephone number of the DSO;
          • date the letter or statement is signed;
          • the name of a single F1 student applying for an SSN;
          • indication that the student is attending school;
          • name of approved school attended;
          • on-campus employer name and contact information; and
          • nature of the on-campus employment.

        Under normal circumstances, the process can be completed in 14 days.

        • You must report your Social Security number to the Business Office, the International Programs Office, and your employer.
        • If you are an on-campus employee, the department offering the position can submit a yellow employment Payroll Authorization form to the Vice-President of Finance for authorization. Additionally, you must complete the orange Part-time Employee Payroll Packet of tax documents and return it to the Business Office. Once all documents have been approved, you can begin working.
        • For official Social Security Administration guidance, click here: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10181.pdf or here: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0110211270
       

    Opening a Bank Account

    You will need to open a bank account to take care of your financial transactions in a safe and efficient manner. We highly recommend that you make your tuition payments by check, credit card, or money wire transfer. For your safety, DO NOT carry large sums of cash in your wallet, purse, or pocket on or off campus.

    If you are interested in opening a bank account in the United States, there are two banking options available within a short distance from UC. For either bank, please bring the following documents with you:

    • Passport with student visa
    • I-20
    • Social Security number (if applicable – it’s ok if you don’t have one)
    • Proof of enrollment letter that states your F-1 student status & confirms your U.S. address. (ask for this at the front desk of the Student Leadership and Engagement Office)

    CHASE Branch & ATM

    Advantage: CHASE is a multi-national bank, and it may be easier to transfer money internationally.

    Location: 200 Kanawha Mall (turn left out of UC, located down MacCorkle Ave. by Kroger)

    Hours of Operation:
    Monday-Thursday 9am-5pm
    Friday 9am-6pm
    Saturday 9am-1pm
    Sunday CLOSED

    Contact: 304-925-1925

    BB&T

    Advantage: BB&T bank has an on-campus ATM. However, it might be more difficult to transfer money internationally.

    Location: 3800 MacCorkle Ave (Turn left out of UC, located approximately 1.2 miles down the road)

    Hours of Operation:
    Monday-Friday 9am-4pm
    Saturday & Sunday CLOSED

    Contact: 304-926-8964

    NOTE: An ATM machine provided by BB&T is located on the main floor of the Geary Student Union. Also, checks for up to $25 can be cashed at the Student Solutions Center in Riggleman Hall.

    Filing Taxes

    ALL international students, regardless of whether or not you have earned money in the previous fiscal year, MUST complete and send in an 8843 tax form. There are NO exceptions. All international students in the USA are required to submit this form. The form and instructions can be found online at www.irs.gov.

    Those students who earned money during the fiscal year are required to complete a 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ tax form.

    For more information about filing US income tax returns as an F-1 student, please see the slides "US Federal Income Tax for F-1 Visa Holders."

    Tuition/Financial Aid/Scholarships

    If you have specific questions about your invoice or tuition including payment deadlines, please contact the Student Solutions Center at 304-357-4947. If you have inquires about financial aid or scholarships, you can contact Financial Aid at 304-357-4944 for assistance.

    Living Off-Campus

    The University of Charleston requires that all freshman and sophomores under the age of 21 (as of the first day of classes for the current academic year) live on-campus. If you are eligible and choose to live off-campus, it is most likely that your scholarship will be affected. If you have questions regarding housing policies, please contact the Director of Residence Life at 357-4987 or if you have questions about how your scholarship could be affected, see a Student Solutions Specialist.

    Holidays and Spring Break

    You are permitted to remain on campus over the breaks and holidays; however, you will be charged a nominal fee for your room during the Christmas and summer breaks. Additionally, meals will not be available in the Dining Hall when classes are not in session.

    Summer Storage Options

    Personal belongings cannot be stored on campus over the summer months. As you make your plans for the summer, you should decide which option for storing your belongings is best for you. Numerous mini storage units are available throughout Charleston. For availability and cost, you should contact them directly.

    • There is a U-Haul storage facility at 6114 MacCorkle Avenue in St. Albans which can be reached at 304-766-6971.
    • Secure mini storage units are also available 11 miles from campus. For more details, call 304-744-9489.

    We suggest that if you have more than one or two people storing items in a unit that one person keep the key and be responsible for the monthly payment. We also recommend that your boxes be labeled and an inventory be taken for each person who decides to use this option. If you need assistance with transporting your belongings to the storage unit, please contact the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement.

    NOTE: If you need to park your car on campus over a break, please coordinate with the Office of Safety and Security or you risk being towed. Any vehicle that is abandoned on UC property will be towed at the owner’s expense.

    Shuttle Bus Service

    A University of Charleston shuttle bus is available to assist with your transportation needs. An updated schedule of times and days of availability will be posted on the UC website and around campus on a regular basis. If you have any questions or need a shuttle outside of the regular hours for doctor appointments or emergencies, you can use this Shuttle Request Form. Other transportation options in Charleston are the public bus system and taxi services.

    • Getting a Driver's License

      If you are interested in getting your driver’s license, you will need to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) located at 5707 MacCorkle Ave SE, Charleston, WV, 25317. Their phone number is 304-558-3900. In order for you to get a license, you must complete an application, pass a written exam and a driving test, and provide the following information:

      Provide the Following to Get a Driver's License

      • Passport
      • I-20 & I-94
      • Visa
      • Social Security Card (or letter of denial from Social Security Office)
      • 2 proofs of your physical address if you live off campus (i.e. utility bill, phone bill, bank statement, etc.)
      • Letter from UC stating that you are a full-time student in good standing (dated within 30 days of applying -- See the front desk of the Student Leadership and Engagement Office)

      If you have questions about this process, please see the Director of International Programs.

    Transcript Requests

    All requests for official transcripts are submitted through an online service. If you need an official copy of your transcript in order to renew your visa, you should complete the appropriate Transcript Request form online here. You can use any major credit card to order as many official transcripts as you like. You will be able to track your order online. If you have any questions about transcript ordering, please contact the Student Solutions Center at 304-357-4947.

    • Graduation: Inviting Relatives and Significant Others

      The B-2 visitor visa is a good choice for visits less than 6 months in duration. The most important part of the B-2 visa application at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad will be the applicant’s demonstration of ties to the home country (see B below), the short duration of the trip, planned return to the home country, and ability to cover expenses. However, as a student, you can provide supporting documents for the B-2 visa application (see A below). This is not a comprehensive list of all documents required for the B-2 visa. Such lists are available on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the visa application will be made. To invite your relatives (any family members other than your spouse and children) and friends to the U.S., you may send the following to the person(s) invited:

      To Invite Others for Graduation, Send the Following:

      • A letter confirming your date of graduation from the University of Charleston
      • In order to obtain this letter, provide the Director of International Programs with:
      • A letter from your academic advisor confirming your graduation date
      • The names and passport numbers of the family members and/or significant other that you wish to invite
      • A letter of invitation written by YOU in English stating that you would like to invite the person for a visit. The letter should also include:  
      • Name and relationship of the visitor(s) to you
      • Length of the visit
      • Who will provide financial support for the visit (if you, provide evidence of support such as a bank statement)
      • Purpose of the visit (i.e. to attend graduation)
      • Evidence of your student status (i.e. a copy of your I-20)Your family members or friends should also bring “proof of ties” to their home country when they apply for the visa, such as:
      • Copies of deeds to any property (i.e. land, house, apartment) that they own in their home country
      • Bank statements of any accounts they maintain at home
      • A letter from their employer stating that they will return to their job after the U.S. visit
      • All other documentation as specifically required by the Embassy or Consulate (check the website for the necessary documentation: http://usembassy.state.gov/)
       

    Additional information about the B-2 visa:

    • B-2 visitors may apply for an extension of stay with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services by filing an I-539 and demonstrating financial support and purpose of the extension. The I-539 form, instructions, and fees can be found at www.uscis.gov.
    • The length of the visa does not equate to the length of stay. When the visitor enters the U.S., their documents will be inspected by a U.S. border official. The officer will determine the amount of time the visitor will be permitted to remain in the U.S. and write that date on the I-94 Arrival/Departure record. The maximum period of admission for a regular B-2 visitor is 6 months.
    • For detailed information about the B-2 nonimmigrant visa, go to http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en.html