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Information for International Students

Information for International Students

The Office of Multicultural Affairs works to make international students feel at home at BSC and assists with the immigration process, orientation, and support throughout your time on the Hilltop. Specific information can be found in the sections below.


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    Apply: Degree-Seeking Students


    All degree-seeking international students must show proof of financial support in order to be issued with a Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student).

    You will find the current cost of attendance for an international student at BSC by clicking here.

    Are you coming to BSC from abroad?

    In order to apply to BSC as an F-1 student, you need to submit the following documents to the Office of Admission (a complete international student application will contain all of the following information):

    You may submit your forms and documents:

    Electronically: smkile@bsc.edu

    By mail:

    BSC Office of Admission
    Box 549008
    900 Arkadelphia Road
    Birmingham, AL 35254

    Or by fax: 205-226-3074

    Are you already in the U.S.?

    If you are currently in the U.S. in F-1 status and will be transferring to BSC from an institution or high school in the U.S., you need to submit to the Office of Admission the documents listed above plus copies of paperwork proving your current immigration status. This paperwork includes (but is not limited to):

    • I-20 and any previous I-20s
    • Visa page in your passport
    • I-94 arrival stamp in your passport

    You will also need to have this form completed by your current international office/advisor:

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    Apply: Exchange Students


    BSC has exchange agreements with the following academic institutions:

    • Erfurt University, Germany
    • HES Amsterdam School of Business, Netherlands
    • Hong Kong Baptist University, China
    • Kansai Gaidai University, Japan
    • Université François-Rabelais, France
    • University of Birmingham, United Kingdom

    Students from these institutions can exchange places for a semester or an academic year with BSC students.

    Applying as an Exchange Student

    As part of the application process, exchange students must show proof of financial support in order to be issued with a Form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status).
    You will find the current cost of attendance for an exchange student by clicking here
    The following checklist may be helpful as you prepare your BSC application packet:

    Are you coming to BSC from abroad?

    In order to apply to BSC as a J-1 student, you need to submit the following documents to the Office of Admission (a complete exchange student application will contain all of the following information):

    You may submit your forms and documents:

    Electronically: smkile@bsc.edu

    By mail:

    BSC Office of Admission
    Box 549008
    900 Arkadelphia Road
    Birmingham, AL 35254

    Or by fax: 205-226-3074

Prospective students in other visa statuses (e.g., E-2, H-4, L-2) should apply to BSC as degree-seeking students. No proof of financial support is needed; however, we do request that you submit a copy of your current immigration documentation (e.g. biographical picture page from passport, visa stamp, extension/receipt notice) with your application.

Under U.S. immigration law, those in B-1/B-2 or F-2 visa status may not currently study as degree-seeking students. Individuals holding these visa statuses should seek a Change of Status to F-1 Student. Please contact the International Student Advisor for more information.

U.S. Permanent Residents (Green Card Holders), Asylees and Refugees are not considered international students for admission purposes and should direct all questions about the application process to the Office of Admission.


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    Prepare

    Once you have submitted all the necessary paperwork and been academically admitted to BSC, we will create the immigration document you need in order to apply for your visa (Form I-20 for F-1 Students; Form DS-2019 for J-1 Exchange Visitors). This document will be mailed to you in a packet containing:

    • Your I-20 or DS-2019
    • Your official acceptance letter
    • Your scholarship award letter (if applicable)
    • An official certificate of admission
    • A welcome letter from the Office of Multicultural Affairs
    • Confirmation of Intent to Enroll form
    • A student health insurance brochure
    • Information about the International Student Orientation and the New Student Orientation
    • Information about important issues such as medical records and housing

    On receipt of the packet, you should follow these steps:

    • Follow the instructions on paying the I-901 SEVIS fee and applying for a student visa: https://www.ice.gov/sevis/students
      • Additional information on paying the I-901 SEVIS fee can be found here
    • Confirm Your Enrollment (Complete and email this PDF form to the Office of Admissions after you make your online fee payment.)
    • Submit Medical Records (Scroll down to the bottom of the page to the General Information section.)
    • Apply for Housing (Housing options are different for upperclassmen. Please contact the Office of Residence Life or the International Student Coordinator for more information about applying for housing as an upperclassman.)
    • Make a Payment to your Student Account (BSC has partnered with Flywire to streamline the tuition payment process for international students, offering excellent foreign exchange rates and significant savings to international students and their families.)

    Please read this important information in advance of travelling to the U.S.:

    • Arriving at the U.S. Port of Entry
    • Health Insurance: All F-1 and J-1 international students are required to purchase a health insurance policy selected by BSC that meets the institutional and federal requirements for insurance coverage. Students are automatically signed up for the insurance by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the cost is billed to your Student Account each semester. Please e-mail the International Student Coordinator to confirm the anticipated yearly cost of the policy. This policy does not cover routine dental or vision care.

    The links above provide much of the information you will need as you start to prepare for your studies at BSC. Should you have any other questions, please contact Caroline McLean, the International Student Services Coordinator (cemclean@bsc.edu).

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    International Student Orientation (ISO)

    You must attend the international student orientation, which will acquaint you with various aspects of campus life as well as issues specific to international students such as immigration, health insurance, and cultural and academic adjustment.

    This program is tailored to the needs of incoming international students. All incoming international students pay a one-time International Student Orientation Fee for the program which will be charged to your Student Account.

    In the fall, the orientation usually takes place in the third week of August. Our office will be in touch with you about the exact dates of the seminar. Students arriving in the spring should contact the International Student Services Coordinator for more details.

    New Student Orientation

    For details on the BSC New Student Orientation Program, click here.

    Accommodation

    You should plan to arrive on campus the day before the start of the International Student Orientation. Students must request housing for the ISO by e-mailing the International Student Services Coordinator. We will make arrangements with the Office of Residence Life for you to move into your on-campus accommodation early.

    We realize that you may have difficulty booking an international flight that arrives on the stated arrival date. You may have to arrive early and spend a few nights in a local hotel. Contact the International Student Services Coordinator if you need help arranging accommodations.

    Flying to Birmingham

    The closest airport to campus is the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM). BSC offers a complimentary Airport Pick-Up Service for all new international students arriving in Birmingham to begin studies. To schedule a pick-up, you must contact the International Student Services Coordinator at least 7 working days before your planned arrival.

    Students who fly into other airports will need to find transportation to Birmingham via train or bus. Follow these directions to campus,

    Health Insurance

    The mandatory health insurance policy for all F-1 and J-1 international students will go into effect on August 1st (for those students arriving in fall) or January 1st (for those students arriving in spring). The cost of the insurance will be billed to your Student Account each semester. Your insurance card will be provided to you during the International Student Orientation.

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    Immigration

    The Office of Multicultural Affairs provides immigration advising services for international students and scholars for all aspects of their current status in order to facilitate their arrival in the U.S. and integration into the campus community. During the International Student Orientation, you will receive an immigration handbook that contains detailed information on maintaining status, employment, travel, and all other U.S. immigration policies. For electronic access, please contact the International Student Services Coordinator. You can also schedule a one-on-one session with the Coordinator at any time to go over any questions you might have, and assist you in maintaining your status while in the U.S.

    Additional resources can be found from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of State (DOS):

    BSC is authorized under Federal law to enroll nonimmigrant alien students. The Designated School Officials (DSOs) and Responsible Officers (ROs) also advise the institution on immigration compliance issues.

    NOTE: Office of Multicultural Affairs staff members are only authorized to provide immigration advice to BSC faculty, staff and students. Individuals not affiliated with BSC should direct their inquiries to an immigration attorney.

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    International Student Resources


    At Birmingham Southern College we understand that coming to study from abroad has its own unique challenges. On this page you will find information about some of the many campus resources to help enhance your time at BSC.

    Academic Resource Center (ARC)

    The Academic Resource Center (ARC) offers training, tutoring, and general assistance in a wide range of concepts, skills and practices relevant to academic achievement, with a special emphasis on information fluency. Click here to make an appointment today.

    The Writing Center

    The Writing Center can help you work on whatever you are writing at the moment. You can bring writing assignments, research projects, lab reports, or writing outside of class, such as personal statements or scholarship applications. So that the tutor can better help you, you and the tutor will first talk about the assignment. Then together, you will decide how to focus. You can work on organization, citing resources, developing ideas, thinking about audience expectations, or editing skills. The Writing Center also provides conversation practice for international students seeking to increase conversational fluency. Click here for information about tutors and hours.

    Tax Assistance

    As an international student or scholar you are required to file taxes for the previous year, even if there has been no income earned. Options to assist you in filing include the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and free access to Sprintax, a web based tax filing software.

    For information about these resources, click here.

    Transportation

    Shopping: 
    The 'Southern Shuttle sponsored by the Student Government Association, runs throughout the academic year every Wednesday and Sunday to the Promenade in Fultondale and the Asian & Mediterranean Markets on Green Springs Highway.  Information on the 'Southern Shuttle is available at the bottom of the Campus Life page.

    Airport Transport:
    The Office of Multicultural Affairs provides initial transport to new, incoming international students from the airport or hotel to campus. To arrange for this transportation, contact the International Student Services Coordinator.

    Additional trips to the airport are supported by the International Student Association (ISA) through a reimbursement system. For information about how to have your taxi or Uber ride covered by ISA, contact the International Student Services Coordinator.

    Purchasing a Vehicle & Getting a Drivers’ License:
    The Office of Multicultural Affairs can assist you in the process of getting a U.S. drivers’ license and purchasing a vehicle. Contact the International Student Services Coordinator for additional information.

    Campus Pantry

    The goal of the BSC Campus Pantry is to provide international students and domestic students in need with basic amenities and appliances that they may not have access to without transportation or for financial reasons. Information about how the Pantry operates can be found in the tab below.

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    The BSC Campus Pantry


    History & Mission: 

    Imagine you are traveling 20+ hours from overseas with everything you own in 2 suitcases only to arrive to an empty dorm room without even basic amenities, and no transportation to get what you need. Or imagine that you use every last bit of money you have to pay for your education only to find that a tuition increase means you no longer have spending money.

    These are just a few of the scenarios that prompted the creation of the Birmingham Southern College Campus. The BSC Pantry began in the Fall of 2016 as an initiative in the Office of Multicultural Affairs.The goal of the BSC Campus Pantry is to provide international students and domestic students in need with basic amenities and appliances that they may not have access to without transportation or for financial reasons.

    Erica Brown, Director of Multicultural Affairs, and Caroline McLean, International Student Services Coordinator, spearheaded the research and implementation of this initiative.

    Location: 

    The pantry is located in the basement of The Union on Sorority Row. The room is locked and only the Director of Multicultural Affairs and the International Student Services Coordinator have access.

    Access: 

    Any currently enrolled BSC international student can access the pantry. Additionally, any currently enrolled BSC student in a position of financial hardship may access the pantry.

    Documentation:

    International students must have proof of status (I-20 or DS-2019). Students in position of financial hardship must schedule a time to meet with the International Student Coordinator or the Director of Multicultural Affairs for a brief and confidential assessment.

    Confidentiality:

    Access to the BSC Campus Pantry is confidential, the shopping bags the students receive are unmarked, and the location is not advertised.

    Hours:

    9 AM to 5 PM, Monday - Friday. To schedule a time to visit the pantry, please contact the International Student Services Coordinator.

    Inventory: 

    The following items are located in the BSC Campus Pantry. Appliances are borrowed through a check out procedure on a semester by semester, first come first serve basis. All other items are to be permanently retained by the student who takes them.

    • Toothpaste
    • Toothbrushes
    • Bath Towels/Hand Towels/Washcloths
    • Soap
    • Shampoo/Conditioner
    • Microwaves
    • Mini-fridges
    • Sheet sets
    • Blankets
    • Pillows
    • Notebooks
    • Pens
    • Rice Cookers
    • Female Sanitary Products
    • Deodorant
    • Non-perishable Snacks