All posts tagged international students in USA

  • Sprintax at NAFSA 2016 Regional Conferences

    Following the national conference earlier in the year, the 11 NAFSA regions held their conferences in late October and early November. These events are excellent opportunities for those involved in international education and exchange to network with experts and business partners and stay current with the latest trends.

    Sprintax were delighted to attend again and meet many of our partners and colleagues. We were represented by Jennifer Gallagher in Alaska, Wisconsin, California and Indiana and Enda Kelleher in Rhode Island, New York, New Mexico, Louisiana and Pennsylvania.

    Enda and Jennifer had statistics from the 57,000 students and scholars who prepared their taxes with us and were glad to offer advice and information to anyone who stopped by their booths.

    Sprintax Competition

    This year, we continued our tradition of giving away prizes at NAFSA. Enda and Jennifer ran a draw for a Bluetooth speaker for all of those who stopped by to chat with them.

    The lucky winner from the conference in New Orleans was Joy Werka from University of West Alabama, while Kelly Hughes from Towson University got the prize at NAFSA Philadelphia. Congratulations Joy and Kelly!

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    Enda from Sprintax team and Joy from University of West Alabama

    We were thrilled to be part of the NAFSA regional conferences and we’d like to thank all participants for the wonderful experience! NAFSA is helping to shape the future of education and we look forward to attending more events.

     

  • Essential Tips for Studying in the U.S.

    Heading to the U.S. to study? You’re about to embark on an amazing adventure, with big campuses, sunny summer days, and lots of new friends.

    Here are some quick tips to take the stress out of preparing for the big trip:

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    1.    Most important is, of course – The Passport – a “Must’’ when you plan on studying or travelling abroad. Remember to check the expiry date well in advance of your travel date.

    2.    Obtain a Visa – before applying for a visa, students must be accepted and approved by their school or program. Once accepted, educational institutions will provide each applicant with the necessary approval documentation to apply for a student visa. You can research what types of US student visas you can apply for here.

    3.    Health Condition – visit a doctor before you leave to get a clean bill of health. If you need to pack medication, make sure it’s in the original container, clearly labelled, or with a doctor’s prescription.

    4.    Take care of your Banking Needs – get the latest currency exchange rates from sites like xe.com, and make sure you take enough US Dollars and/or travel checks with you.

    5.    Airline Tickets – purchase airline tickets early to avoid high airfares, and plan how you’re going to get from the airport to your destination, especially if your flight arrives in at night.

    6.    International Students ID Card – this could save you a lot of money. The ISIC card is the most internationally recognized student card and will get you discounts on sights, accommodation, shops, transport and more.

    7.    Make a list of Emergency Contacts – keep a list of emergency contacts and provide them to your roommate, host institution or someone close by, just in case.

    8.    Make Photocopies of Important Documents – copies of all your essential documents are never useless. Keep copies of your passport, visa, other forms of identification, and important phone numbers and email addresses.

    9.    Keep in mind the Electrical Voltage System – electrical sockets in the US supply between 110 and 120 volts, so remember that your electrical devices might need voltage converters and adaptors to work. You can even purchase adaptors with in-built voltage converters, which could come in very handy.

    And last but not least:

    10.  Housing Options – It’s very risky leaving your country and travelling thousands of miles from home without securing accommodation.

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    Consider the following options:

    Dorms – no doubt your university has dorms and this is the most common and popular housing option for newly admitted students. It’s also the most convenient, as it means living right on campus. Dorms also supply meal plans so you don’t have to worry about organizing your breakfast, lunch or dinner.

    Off-Campus Housing – it may sound strange, but renting an apartment off campus costs less. You can choose your roommates, the area, and have more control over who you meet and when. Remember, when choosing this option over a dorm, you will have to cover any additional expenses – utilities, transportation, food, etc.

    Homestay – this is quickly becoming a popular option among international students. Staying in someone’s home will make it easier to interact with native English speakers and experience their culture more closely.

    If you need help arranging accommodation, there are Housing Offices at your University you can turn to. You can also contact your International Student Advisor for information regarding on-campus and off-campus housing.

    In addition, many universities provide resources on housing and apartment rentals on their websites.

    So far so good! You’ve done everything to make your transition to the US easier, but now what?

     Firstly, don’t forget to call home – make sure your phone is loaded with enough credit to make a quick call. This will make you feel better and reassure your friends and family.

    Take a walk – after you’ve settled into your new home take some time to explore your new campus or neighbourhood. Getting some fresh air and exploring your surroundings will help you feel human again after a long trip.

    Don’t fall asleep – after a long flight you will feel the urge to fall asleep and your body clock will be totally messed up. Try to stay awake ‘till at least 10 or 11 p.m. to beat the jet lag.

    Lastly, have fun, enjoy US student life, and who knows? You could make some great new friends to last a lifetime.

    Make your life as a student even easier by signing up to Sprintax for a simple solution to preparing your tax return.

  • 3 Awesome Ways to Spend your Tax Refund

    The 2015 US tax season is officially over, so if you’ve filed your tax return you’re probably both relieved and eager to see if you’ll get a refund.

    About 13% of Americans will put their tax refund towards an amazing vacation and 39% will use it to pay down their debts, according to a recent study conducted by the National Retail Federation.

    How will you spend yours?

    Enough with the stats, let’s start with the best part of every tax season – how to spend the money you could get back from the IRS! This year, our advice is to unleash your creativity and do something memorable instead of splashing out on a rainy afternoon.

    Why not try one of these awesome ideas:

    ’’StartUP’’ your future

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    Remember that amazing business idea you promised to develop when you got enough money? Well now is the time! Startups are a huge part of the business world and if this is what you’ve been dreaming of, why not start today?

    If you’ve got the idea, now you have the budget to make it happen! Get a pen, draft your first business plan, and give your dreams a head start.

    A voyage of discovery

    8986414_mlNothing pushes you to grow as much as seeing the world. Travelling will open your mind up to new cultures and experiences, so why not try somewhere off the beaten track? If you’re planning on putting your tax refund towards an amazing adventure, we suggest something a little bit different than the well-known tourist destinations.

    How about a Jungle Safari in Borneo or a Cycle Safari in Tanzania? You could brave an Ocean Exploration course in the deep blue waters of the Caribbean or an overland adventure in West Africa. It sounds incredible, doesn’t it? And if you’re a true explorer and adventurer, you should go on at least one epic trip during your lifetime.

    “On the edge of life”

    2786043_lDoes jumping out of an airplane sound fun? Then extreme sports might be the answer. Adrenalin is sometimes all you need to awaken the power within. What if now is the time to meet “The Brave” in you? Get your tax refund and put it towards a sky diving session, balloon flight or bungee jump.

    The adrenalin is guaranteed as well as your safety if you rely on a recognized company, so keep this in mind when searching for exciting “on the edge of life” experiences.

    Whatever you decided to do with your US tax refund, don’t forget Sprintax can help you, not only with great ideas but with filing next year’s return!

  • Top 10 Apps to Survive Student Life in the U.S.

    From planning trips home, to speaking a new language, studying abroad comes with many unique challenges.

    Luckily, technology provides us with lots of cool applications to help navigate student life – reminders, calendars, dictionaries, study apps, etc. Check out our top 10 apps to make life easier as an international student in the US.

    1.    Google Maps

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    An excellent, free map application and a handy travel guide, Google Maps will quickly become your best buddy in unfamiliar places and help you locate shops, restaurants and landmarks nearby.

    The GPS navigation with voice prompts will guide you to your destination, and traffic alerts will help you avoid heavy traffic. The app maps out the best routes, depending on whether you’re driving, walking, or prefer to bike it. To keep your mobile data, you can save your favorite maps for offline use. The app is free for Android and iOS.

    2. Google Translate

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    Nobody doubts your language skills, but if you need a little help, Google translate will come to the rescue. Free for Android and iOS users, it translates over 90 languages, is simple to use, and usually reliable.

    You can speak, type, or draw words into your phone or tablet and this app will instantly translate it into your chosen language. A cool new feature called Conversation Mode will even translate your chats with friends in real-time. The Word Lens tool lets you hover your phone over menus, signs and other text to overlay the translated text on the image, though it doesn’t always recognise certain fonts.

    3. Converter+
    converter+Wondering how much to tip the waiter? Need to calculate the sales tax? You might know how many pounds are in a kilogram, but there are times when you’ll need to convert on the go. Whether you’re calculating a tip, or checking the weather in Celsius (°C), Converter+ is a really useful app.

    It packs in over 100 converters and calculators including temperature, length, weight, and currency. It’s simple to use, and could prove a life saver in a foreign country. It’s available for free on iTunes.

    4. LINE

     lineYou can chat to your friends and family for free with LINE. Send messages, make voice or video calls, and have group chats with other LINE users worldwide free of charge using its VoIP technology. ​

    As well as free messages and phone calls, it comes with an integrated social network and lots of cute symbols and emojis for your chats. A great, low-cost way to keep in touch with parents and friends, it will help you feel loved no matter how far you are from home. You can download it for free for Android or iOS.

    5. DataMan

    dataman Phone plans in the US can be confusing. You can avoid paying insane phone bills by using the DataMan app for iOS. DataMan Next will keep track of your data usage in real-time. Simply input your phone plan info and you’ll get warnings when you’re about to exceed your usage limits.

    DataMan Pro is an upgraded version that provides specific information on what apps are eating up your data. A small investment in this app could save you quite a bit of cash in the long run.

    6. Dropbox

    dropbox Never lose course work again with Dropbox, a superb, cloud-based file storage service that lets you upload files (documents, photos, videos, etc.) and access them on any device with an internet connection.

    It comes with 2GB free storage, and lets you share files and sync them from any computer or device. Dropbox can instantly save email attachments, photos and docs for safe keeping, and more importantly, the mobile app will automatically backup all your precious photos and videos. You can get it for free for both Android and iOS.

    7. CliffsNotes

    cliffsnotesCliffNotes have gone digital with their study guides in this iTunes app. If you’re taking an English Literature class, then these guides could prove very useful coming up to exams.

    You can download the app for free on iTunes and purchase notes with information on characters, plot, as well as summaries of every book you read. You can also listen to audio versions of the notes at your leisure, outside during walks, or even at the gym!

    8. Spotify

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    With over 20 million tracks, Spotify is a sleek music streaming service essential for any music lover. Similar to iTunes, one of the biggest differences is that you can listen to all your favorite artists for free.

    Simply download the free app to your device and stream songs using a network or Wi-Fi connection. You can upgrade to the paid version, Spotify Premium, to stream and download songs to your device commercial-free. Spotify is free for Android and iOS.

    9. Studious

    studios Get organized with Studious, the perfect study companion. Studious will keep your class schedule, exam dates and project deadlines all in one place. It works like an alarm clock, so when you enter information on your classes, exam dates, and projects, you’ll get gentle reminders.

    You can choose how and when you’re notified, so your phone doesn’t suddenly start ringing loudly during lectures. Another useful feature lets you save notes and pictures for those times when you don’t have a pen handy. You can download it from iTunes for $0.99 or free on the Google Play store.

    10. Eventbrite

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    Find out what’s happening in your local area with the Eventbrite app. Free on iTunes and Google Play, this app lets you search festivals, concerts, and upcoming events in your city. You can take a break from study and find networking events, classes and more fun things to do near you.

    The app lets you search and buy tickets for events based on interests, dates, what your friends are attending, and by popularity. You can share events with friends, make bookings, and get vital details from times to dates and location, all from the palm of your hand.

    Have we missed any apps that you can’t live without? Let us know in the comments!

    Don’t forget Sprintax can make your life as a student in the U.S. easier too. Sign up to Sprintax now for a simple US tax solution.

  • Don’t Miss the US Tax Return Deadline on April 15th

    The US tax deadline is April 15th; use Sprintax to file your US tax return.

    International students and scholars are legally obliged to file a US non-resident tax return by April 15th. We know that tax laws can be confusing, so this is where Sprintax can help. You can sign up here to start using with our easy-to-use online tool now.

    Sprintax will help you prepare an accurate return, meet your tax obligations for your visa, and maximize your refund. And even if you miss the forthcoming deadline, we can still help.

    As an international student, you must submit your tax documents to the IRS for any income earned in 2014 by April 15th this year. Even if you haven’t earned any income, you’re required by law to file a tax return to meet your visa obligations.

    You must file a US tax return by April 15th if:

    • You received a stipend, grant or allowance in 2014
    • You received income/salary/pay from working on or off campus in 2014
    • You didn’t receive any income in the US during 2014 (you must still file 8843 form to declare this)

    Many international students and scholars can benefit from reduced rates and exemptions due to tax treaties between the US and their home countries. Sprintax has the built-in expertise to check if you’re eligible for these treaty benefits.

    If you don’t have an account already, then sign up to Sprintax here as soon as possible to meet your tax obligations.

    Remember, if your university has given you a special access or discount code, don’t forget to use it just before the payment step!

    Missed the Deadline?Don’t worry, if you miss the deadline, Sprintax can still help.

    Don’t have a Sprintax account? Simply create your account here now to start.

    Got any questions? Chat with our tax experts now; we’re happy to help!