Advising at Alderson Broaddus
As an international student at Alderson Broaddus University, you will have two advisors.
- Your academic advisor will be a professor of the subject you are majoring in, and will help you make decisions about which classes to take and answer any questions you may have about your classes or profession. If you are having trouble in a class, you should speak to your academic advisor and ask for advice.
- The International Student Coordinator will help you settle in to the culture of West Virginia and AB. The International Student Coordinator will guide you through the customs, responsibilities, and privileges of being a student.
- You will also need the Registrar. Check in with the Registrar to be sure they know you are an international student and that you are now enrolled. Also see the Registrar for changes to your SEVIS record:
- Change of address
- Change of major
- Change of marital status, particularly if your spouse will need an F-2 visa
- Change of name
Traveling Outside the U.S.
Traveling outside the United States
While here in the United States, you may want to take advantage of travel to neighboring countries like Canada or Mexico. Plan ahead and be sure AB knows where you are.
If you are planning to return to your home country for a vacation or any purpose, you need to make sure your I-20 will remain valid until after you have returned. Your I-20 must be signed by a Designated School Official stating that we are expecting you to return to Alderson Broaddus. Your DSOs can be found in the International Student Office or the Registrar. The signature is good for one year.
If you are an international student from outside of Europe, you may need a Schengen visa if you wish to visit countries on holiday in Europe. For instance, if you are travelling on a passport from Saudi Arabia and wish to make a trip to France, you will need a Schengen visa. Most countries in North and Central America as well as those countries in the Schengen zone are exempt. See schengenvisainfo.com/who-needs-schengen-visa/. In some cases, you may be able to make the whole application online, but most of you will need t go to Washington DC and apply at the Embassy of the country of your first European destination. There is a fee in U.S. dollars for this. Please plan ahead and take sufficient time.
Transferring to or from another college or university:
Transferring Into Alderson Broaddus University
Alderson Broaddus University welcomes applications from students who are currently attending other universities. Please follow the admission guidelines for the program you are applying to. Once you have been admitted we will need to have a Transfer Eligibility Form completed prior to processing your transfer I-20. This is so that your current university can review your international record and ‘release’ you in SEVIS to Alderson Broaddus University. Once this occurs then we are able to process your transfer to AB.
Please be sure to contact the International Student Coordinator if you have questions regarding this process.
The International Student Coordinator can assist you with transferring your SEVIS record to your next US institution. You will first want to contact International Student Coordinator after you have been admitted to see what the process is to transfer your record from AB. Most schools will require you to have a student transfer form completed by International Student Coordinator at AB. Once you receive this form – please make an appointment to have your transfer reviewed and processed.
Can I apply as an international student if I have dependents?
Yes, but we cannot accommodate spouses or children in AB Housing at this point; however, bringing dependents would qualify as an exemption from campus housing. Be advised that apartments in Philippi are not always easily available.
- If you and a spouse are both applying for F1 visas and you will both be students at Alderson Broaddus University.
Both of you must apply independently and both must be accepted independently.
If you are applying and you are bringing a spouse on an F2 visa:
- To qualify for dependent status, your spouse and children (under age 21) must establish during the visa interview that
- He/She is the spouse or child of the F-1 principal. This is done by supplying a marriage license and birth certificates.
- He/She has sufficient funds to cover expenses while present in the United States.
- He/She intends to leave the United States upon termination of the principle F-1
- If the dependents are following the student – you will need to show that the “F-1 student is, or will be within 30 days, enrolled in a full course of study or engages in approved practical training.”
- You will need to provide AB with valid passports for every person requesting an F-2, even infants. You will also need to take your F-1 and F-2 documents for your visa interview. Note that the United States will only accept ONE spouse.
F2 Arrival to Alderson Broaddus University – upon arrival the dependent should bring the SEVIS I-20 to the International Student Coordinator or the Registrar to have it signed on page 3. This signature indicates that you have arrived in the U.S. and that Alderson Broaddus University has been notified.
Maintaining F-2 Dependent Status
- F-2 Spouses may not engage in full-time study
- F-2 children may only engage in full-time study at the K-12 level
- An F-2 Spouse is only permitted to study part time to the extent that it is “vocational or recreational” in nature. (Examples would be physical fitness or artistic courses.) Note: Please see the International Student Advising Office prior to engaging in any form of part-time study.
- An F-2 spouse status is only valid if the F-1 student is in the United States and continues to maintain valid F-1 student status. If the living arrangement dissolves (divorce or separation), the F-2 spouse’s status is nullified.
- F-2 dependents may (after initial entry to the U.S.) temporarily leave the country – however – you will need to have the documents necessary to enter both the country to be visited as well as to re-enter the United States.
- F-2 dependent children must be enrolled in school during their parent(s) time of study. Good news is that’s free in the United States.
Dependents & Family/Friend Invitations
Alderson Broaddus University strongly supports the reunification of families and friends. Parents, siblings, friends, and any others may VISIT you at AB on a B tourist visa. They may apply for a visa on their own. Please note that some short visits from many countries may not require a visa at all. Note that extended accommodations for non-students cannot be made in campus housing.
Steps to obtain a dependent I-20:
- Complete the Dependent Request Form and submit to the International Student Advising Office
- After review a Dependent I-20 will be issued and sent to you, the student to forward to your dependents
- Apply for the F2 visa at your local consulate
Working in the U.S.
Working in the U.S.
There are limited employment opportunities available in the United States for an F-1 student. For this reason, before being admitted to the United States, a student must have documentary evidence that they have the financial ability to pay for tuition and living expenses while studying in the United States. This is the amount the Designated School Official (DSO) enters on the student’s Form I-20.
- The U.S. government takes illegal employment very seriously, so it is important to reiterate this message:
- Students should consult with their DSO before starting any on-campus employment.
- Students must obtain DSO authorization on the FORM I-20 before starting curricular practical training (CPT)
- Students must obtain a DSO recommendation on the Form I-20 and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) authorization (Form I-766 “Employment Authorization Document,” (EAD) before starting any other employment
The United States has very strict rules for international students who want to work during their studies. International students enrolled full time and in valid F-1 status may work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week during when classes are in session, and up to 40 hours per week when classes are not. Students in valid F-1 cannot be employed off campus without meeting eligibility requirements and obtaining official authorization. Immigration regulations severely limit the international student’s eligibility to accept employment off campus. Students found working illegally are failing to maintain their F-1 student and risk having their F-1 status revoked, which will necessitate leaving the country immediately. In this case, any payments already made to AB will be forfeit.
U.S. Social Security Number
In the United States, a Social Security number (SSN) is a 9-digit number issued to citizens and eligible non-citizens. Its primary purpose is to track individuals for taxation purposes. A SSN is important because you need it to get a job on campus and off campus. Many other businesses, such as cell phone companies, banks and credit companies, also ask for your SSN. You cannot apply for a SSN until you have a job offer and an employer cannot pay you until you provide them with your SSN. See the instructions on obtaining a social security number.
Job openings can be found on the Work Study page of the AB website. You may also work for outside contractors who provide work on campus without approval from Financial Aid. At AB, that means you can work for Sodexo.
Immigration regulations limit an international student’s eligibility to accept employment off-campus. Students found working illegally are failing to maintain their F-1 student status and risk having their F-1 visa revoked. Off-campus employment is only allowed in the following circumstances:
Curricular Practical Training: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is employment that trains you in your field of study and for which you fulfill academic credit or part of your degree requirement. CPT may be a paid or unpaid internship, cooperative education job, a practicum, or other experience that is related in your field of study. Students interested in doing a CPT must make an appointment with International Student Services to see if they are eligible.
Optional Practical Training: Optional Practical Training (OPT) is work authorization that will allow you to work in areas that are related to you major. A student must be enrolled for a full academic year to be eligible to apply for OPT. You can apply up to 90 days before your graduation and it is recommended that you apply at least 45 days before graduation to ensure timely processing. Students interested in doing OPT must make an appointment with International Student Services to see if they are eligible.
Severe Economic Hardship Employment: This benefit is available to students who have completed at least one semester and have proven a severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond his or her control that arose after obtaining F-1 status, and that on-campus employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient. Students must make an appointment with International Student Services to see if they are eligible.
Obtaining a Social Security Number
Obtaining a Social Security Number
You will need a Social Security Number (SSN) if you have a job offer. You DO NOT need a social security number in these situations:
- Open a bank account at a local bank
- Obtain a West Virginia driver’s license
- Buy or lease a car in most states.
- Open your Battler Account. You will be provided with a special number for that purpose.
If you do need a US Social Security number, you will need to go in person to one of the two Social Security Offices within a short drive of Alderson Broaddus:
- Elkins: Elkins Federal Building, 300 Third Street, Suite 325, Elkins, WV (877)828-1693. They are open daily from 9am-4pm. This office closes at noon on Wednesdays. They are also closed Saturday, Sunday, and all federal holidays.
- Clarksburg: Clarksburg Federal Building 320 W. Pike St. Clarksburg, WV (866)783-7305. They are open daily from 9am-4pm. This office closes at noon on Tuesdays. They are also closed Saturday, Sunday, and all federal holidays.
A reminder that cell phones are not permitted in any U.S. Federal Building. Leave it in your car.
You must take these documents with you:
- Application. You can download it from http://www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf. They only need page 5. Fill out as much as you can to save time at the office.
- Your AB student ID
- Your passport with visa. (Canadians should bring their I-901)
- Form I-20
- Job offer
- Work Study Job: SEA form that you have a job. This needs to be signed by your supervisor. Obtain the form from Financial Aid.
- Sodexo, RA, Facilities. You will need a letter from the employer that you have a job offer.
It will take seven to ten days to receive your social security number and card. Keep this in a safe place as it is costly to get a replacement. This will be your Social Security number for life. Use this card if you go home after graduation and then return to the U.S. to work later. Absolutely, DO NOT start work before you have a social security number. This may be cause for expulsion from the U.S.3
Obtaining a West Virginia Driver's License
International Driving Laws in West Virginia
Welcome to West Virginia. The good news is that West Virginia will allow international students to obtain a driver’s license and you must have a license if you wish to drive on a West Virginia roadway. If you have a driver’s license from your home country, it is only valid for the first 90-days of your stay. After that, you’ll need to get a West Virginia Not For Federal Use Driver’s License. https://transportation.wv.gov/DMV/Drivers/Pages/Drivers-Licenses.aspx
How to obtain a West Virginia License
You must do this in person at a West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. The nearest ones are in Elkins or Bridgeport. The waits at Elkins are generally shorter. You must present the following documents:
- Social Security Card if you have a US social security number. If you don’t have a social security number, you will sign a form. You do not need a US social security number to obtain a driver’s license.
- Two proofs of West Virginia residency. Your AB student ID should suffice.
- Valid passport and visa. Canadians should bring their I-901 receipt.
- Valid Passport with English translation if necessary.
- Visa stamp. Canadians should bring their I-901 receipt.
- I-20 to verify status and length of authorized state
- Letter from Alderson Broaddus University on stationery that includes the date, your name, indicating you are enrolled full time at ABU and your West Virginia address. The letter cannot be more than 20 days old.
- Application. You can obtain an application in the AB Welcome Center to save some time. You may also pick up an application at the DMV.
I-94. Do this before you go because they will not do this at the DMV.
- Go to http://cbp.gov. Click on TRAVEL
- Click on FOR INTERNATIONAL VISITORS link in the middle.
- Under the TRAVEL SMART tab on the bottom right, click on ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE FORMS I-94 AND I-94W.
- On the top right, click GET THE I-94 NUMBER
- Click yes, which takes you to another page. Fill that page out and print it.
- Open GET TRAVEL HISTORY. This will self- populate. Print that page, too.
Turn all of the above in to the DMV official who will scan and return your original documents. They will inform you if you need to take the written test and/or the road test. Most international students will have to do both.
Taking the written test. Prior to taking the written test, you should study the “rules of the road.” In an effort to save you time and effort, you can take the online practice test as many times as you want. Find it at https://dmv-permit-test.com/west-virginia/practice-test-1.html. Printed books and the application are also available in the International Student Office. If you fail the test, you can retake it over and over, but you must wait seven days between tests. When you pass the written test, you will be issued a temporary permit. You may drive a car only if you have a licensed driver with you.
Taking the road test. After you have passed the written test, the DVM agent will tell you when you can take the road test. Make an appointment. A licensed driver will need to bring you and wait in the lobby while you take the test. If you fail, you may retake it in seven days. If you pass, you will be a licensed driver.
Carry your license with you at all times. Put it in your wallet and leave it there.
Drinking, cell phone usage, and texting. Simply put, do not do it while you are driving. The penalties for a DUI in West Virginia will really hurt you. For a first offense, it could be up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, suspension of your license. You will be suspended from your sports team and you will not be allowed to return on your I-20. If you are under 21, the legal limit is 0, not even on your breath. If you are over 21, the limit is .08 (the second drink in one hour). West Virginia is also a “hands free” state meaning you cannot use your phone to call or text while the car is in drive. If you are in an accident, even if it is not your fault, and it can be demonstrated that you were on your phone, you will be charged.
Note to women: For women coming from areas where women are not permitted to drive, you can get a license and drive in the United States. Any other issue is between you and your family. You will have to have your face uncovered for your driver’s license photo and you will need to remove any face covering if you are stopped by law enforcement. This applies just to the face. You may keep your hair covered if that is your cultural practice.
Organ donation. While we hope this does not happen to you, in the very rare case that you die in an accident, West Virginia wants to know if you would donate your useable organs (kidneys, heart, liver, corneas) to someone on the waiting list. This is up to you; however, the American Baptist Church, fully endorses organ donation. Most religions, including Islam, supports organ donation. You can sign your consent on your driver’s license indicating your willingness to do so. No one will take your organs without discussing it with your designated family member first.
Bringing a car to campus. While it may only apply to students from Canada or Mexico, you may bring your car from home. Any car on campus must have a parking permit. If you opted out of parking at the beginning of the semester, you will need to pay the fee.
Buying a car in the United States.
- International students with the funds to do so may purchase a car in the United States. Generally, you will need to pay cash. The seller will provide a title. If you purchase your car outside of West Virginia, you will have to obtain a new title here. Take your title and bill of sale to the Department of Motor Vehicles anywhere in West Virginia and get a new title made. Of course, there is a fee for that and you may have to pay sales tax if you did not pay at your point of purchase. YOU MUST HAVE PROOF OF AUTO INSURANCE TO DRIVE A CAR IN THE UNITED STATES!!!
Mountain driving and driving in the winter.
- While we have some of the finest roads in America, driving can still be treacherous even in the best weather. Slow down, especially on a curve. Know the road markers so you know when you can pass. Never, ever, cross a solid yellow line. Unlike many places in the world, drivers in the United States generally follow the rules of the road. Stop means stop. Speed limits are enforced and you will get at least a $110 ticket if you are stopped for speeding. Americans, and especially West Virginians, are generally courteous drivers.
- Our winters are relatively short, but our weather can change in an instant. Always be prepared. Be sure you have good tires and working breaks. Check the information from the American Auto Association to get more tips on braking and skidding in bad weather.
- Winter Driving Tips
You may use the provider of your choice for international calling, but please be sure they cover Philippi, West Virginia before you sign any contract. If you do not have international calling, you may make occasional calls for free from the Student Affairs Office. In case of emergency and you need to call home after normal business hours, contact Campus Safety.
Power Plugs and Electrical Current
Be sure you can charge your phone and turn on anything electric: https://world-power-plugs.com/
SEVIS: Study in the States
Use these links to find out more about SEVIS and Study in the States.
Many professions require an advanced degree in order to work in that profession, meaning that your bachelor’s degree is just the first step. Here at Alderson Broaddus, we offer three graduate degrees and you are urged to contact our Graduate School to discuss your options. The world is your oyster because you can apply to any college in the entire world that will accept your academic and English language skills.
Here are a couple College Degree Guides to help job seekers, professionals understand the changing landscape of graduate schools and their impact on careers and employment:
- https://www.collegedegreesonline.com/program/masters. If you are going back to your home country, you can earn an online degree in the U.S. without a student visa.
- https://www.mastersofpublicadministration.org/program/public administration
If you wish to stay in the U.S. after graduation, you may be able to do so for one year of Optional Practical Training. You cannot use any time on your F-1 toward permanent residency status. If you wish to stay beyond your OPT time, you must have an employer who can give you an H1B3 visa. There are many US companies, and even the US government who are really looking for employees who are fluent in a second language, particularly Spanish, Arabic, or Mandarin.