A General Guide for VCU Advisors and Faculty
The answers to many questions about VCU's Global Education Office can be found at the GEO website. If you can't find your answer there, feel free to call any of the staff listed below. If he or she doesn't know the answer, they will be happy to find out for you.
For questions about Academic Support for international students, please contact Amber Bennett Hill: firstname.lastname@example.org, 804-828-0178. Many materials useful to students and faculty are available http://www.global.vcu.edu/students/academic/index.html.
One of the key elements of the GEO's mission is to promote academic success for international students. The GEO Academic Advisor provides academic advising and assistance to help students make a successful transition from their home or from the English Language Program to their undergraduate or graduate curriculum. Academic support programs within GEO include one-on-one meetings with the Academic Advisor; general or course-specific tutoring with graduate interns and peer tutors; resource referrals; and graduate school prep and other workshops. The GEO Academic Advisor also serves as a resource for faculty in working with international students, in which capacity faculty may refer students to the Advisor concerning a student's linguistic or cultural difficulties; and faculty may seek advice on making course materials more accessible to international students. Following a meeting with an international student, the GEO Academic Advisor will contact relevant faulty and advisors, so that all concerned parties are "in the loop" and to keep open the lines of communication essential to supporting the academic success of these students.
A few things to keep in mind:
- If a student wishes to withdraw from a class, he/she should make an appointment with the GEO Academic Advisor, to avoid making mistakes that might endanger his/her Visa status.
- If a student wishes to change his/her major, and is an embassy-sponsored student (primarily from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, and Qatar), he/she should make an appointment with the GEO Academic Advisor, who will work with the student to receive permission from his/her embassy for the change.
- Following a meeting or if problems arise with an international student, it is helpful to contact the GEO Academic Advisor so that the student can be monitored from the GEO perspective as well.
For questions about Immigration Services, please contact Ingrid Mercer: email@example.com, 804-828-1830. Information about Immigration Services may be found http://www.global.vcu.edu/students/immigration/index.html.
GEO's Immigration Services Office works with international students, scholars, faculty, researchers and their dependents to help them maintain their various visa statuses. It issues and processes the necessary immigration documents and advises immigrants on the regulations of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. Department of Labor.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Students must maintain a full-time credit load (minimum 12 credit hours for undergraduate students, 9 credit hours for graduate students).
- Students may request a reduced course load for (and only for) the following documented reasons:
- The student is having difficulty with English language or reading requirements (may be used only once)
- The student is unfamiliar with American teaching methods
- The student has been placed in an improper course level
- The student needs less than a full course load to complete the degree program
- The student has completed course work and is preparing for a comprehensive exam
- The student has completed course work and is engaged in thesis or dissertation research
- The student has a medical reason for requesting a less than full-time schedule
- Students should immediately notify Immigration Services about any changes to major, degree program / level, or program completion.
- Students may not travel outside of the United States without contacting Immigration Services.
- Transfer students must register for classes and contact Immigration Services to complete the transfer. This must occur within 15 days of the start of classes.
- Students may not work off-campus without prior approval from Immigration Services. This includes internships and other unpaid curricular training programs.
For questions about the English Language Program, please contact Murali Venuegopalan: firstname.lastname@example.org , 804-828-1021. Information about The ELP can be found http://www.global.vcu.edu/elp/index.html.
VCU's English Language Program (ELP) offers language classes taught by professionally trained language teachers with master's degrees who are fluent in English. Classes are small, normally with 16 or fewer students per class, and are intensive, to improve English language skills as quickly as possible. The ELP concentrates on academic English and study skills so that students can be successful in academic and career pursuits. The ELP regularly offers three study options for students who wish to study English as a second language at the university: the Graduate Preparatory Program, the Academic Preparatory Program and the English Enrichment Program. Graduate and undergraduate students who are conditionally admitted to the university should enroll in the appropriate track in order to satisfy the university's English proficiency requirement. The English Enrichment Program is for students who wish to improve their English for personal or professional reasons and do not plan to apply for an academic program at VCU. Core classes are offered in writing and grammar, reading and vocabulary, listening, speaking, and pronunciation.
ELP serves: students admitted to the University on a conditional basis, pending their demonstration of English proficiency; students enrolled full-time in the ELP, with no plans to enroll in the University; part-time students from the community; and scholars and special program students at the University. Students apply to the ELP through International Admissions and undergo placement tests in Writing, Reading, Speaking, and Listening. Following testing, they enroll in ELP classes as appropriate, up to 25 hours per week. English-language students, upon reaching the highest level of ELP, may be eligible to take some academic courses in their final semester of ELP courses. Students do not receive academic credit for ELP courses.
For questions about Community Connections support for international students, please contact Pam Haney: email@example.com, 804-828-8309. The Community Connections website is http://www.global.vcu.edu/students/connections/index.html .
GEO provides international students with many opportunities to engage directly with the local community, allowing them to get to know American culture firsthand. Staff in Community Connections assists students with everything from settling into life in Richmond and basic support services to service-learning opportunities and social activities. Community Connections helps students find Conversation Partners and places to stay during University breaks, and pairs students with community families. They also sponsor social events and travel opportunities.
Virginia Commonwealth University offers numerous options across the globe for students to study abroad in any academic discipline. Program lengths vary from one week to one year. Students can participate in a VCU faculty-led group experience or go on a more independent program by enrolling at a foreign university through the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) or a VCU International Partnership University. General Information Sessions are held every Monday and Thursday throughout the academic year at 12:30 in the Education Abroad office for students interested in learning more about studying abroad. Financial aid and scholarships are available. Interested students should contact firstname.lastname@example.org and visit http://www.global.vcu.edu/abroad. Staff is available to visit classes to talk about Education Abroad opportunities.
Study Abroad also handles making arrangements for international students who come to VCU as part of exchange programs, like ISEP or with our international partner universities. These students, who come for one semester or one academic year, are not degree-seeking. GEO staff works with departments across campus to fit these students with the best and most appropriate academic experiences during their short time here.
VCU's Partnerships with international universities provide VCU faculty and students opportunities for involvement and collaboration in an international and multicultural arena. Activities among the partnership universities include collaborative research grants and projects, internationalized curricula (such as specialized summer and dual-degree programs), student and faculty exchanges, and joint conferences. Please contact the Partnerships office with any questions regarding Partnership programs/activities in which you are involved; about Partnership students / professors / scholars visiting VCU; about establishing contacts at the Partnerships; and about organizing and implementing Partnership programs. (For questions about VCU Study Abroad Programs and semester- or year-long academic exchanges at the Partnerships, please contact the Education Abroad Office.)
The VCU International Partnership Universities include:
- Beijing Foreign Studies University (Beijing, China)
- Fudan University (Shanghai, China)
- Indian Institute of Technology (Kharagpur, India)
- Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (Chandigarh, India)
- Moscow State University (Moscow, Russia)
- St. Petersburg State University (St. Petersburg, Russia)
- University of the West of England (Bristol, United Kingdom)
- University of Córdoba (Córdoba, Spain)
- University of Messina (Messina, Sicily [Italy])
- University of Oxford's Harris Manchester College (Oxford, England)
- University of Guadalajara (Guadalajara, Mexico)
- University of São Paulo (São Paulo, Brazil)
- Curtin University of Technology (Perth, Australia)
- University of KwaZulu-Natal (Durban, South Africa)
- Hadassah Medical Center/Hebrew University (Jerusalem, Israel)
- VCU School of the Arts in Qatar (Doha, Qatar) - note: VCUQ is housed under VCU School of the Arts. Please contact SOA with any questions regarding VCUQ
For questions about International Admissions, please contact Blair Brown: email@example.com, 804-828-6010. Information about International Admissions is at http://www.global.vcu.edu/students/admissions/index.html.
International applicants must meet certain requirements, demonstrating: satisfactory academic achievement, adequate English language proficiency, and the ability to finance their education. All applicants must present grades that reflect superior ability and serious effort. Students may demonstrate English proficiency (before beginning academic classes) in one of the following ways:
- Present an official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score. The following qualifiers must be submitted to meet the English-Language requisite: 80 iBT (undergraduate)/100 iBT (graduate) or 6.0 IELTS academic band score (undergraduate)/ 6.5 (graduate).
- Pass the VCU English Language Placement Examination
- Successfully complete VCU's intensive English language course
please keep in mind:
- Many international students come to VCU as Conditional Admits. Students who have not met VCU's English language requirement may be admitted on a conditional basis at the undergraduate level. As part of this condition, students must successfully complete prescribed English Language Program (ELP) curricula in order to be eligible to enroll in academic classes. Further, all prescribed courses must be successfully completed to remove the condition of admission and receive full admission to the University.
- International students (with the exception of permanent residents and Canadian citizens) are not allowed to enroll in the M.D. program or the Pharm.D. program at VCU; they are allowed to enroll in Ph.D. and M.S. programs in the Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy. At present, the D.D.S. program does not accept international students (with the exception of permanent residents and Kuwaiti students involved in a particular exchange agreement). The School of Dentistry does have a program for international students who enter in their third year of dental school. Essentially, international students are excluded from any clinical program that leads to professional licensure (the School of Nursing excepted). (These rules apply only to VCU; other U.S. universities may or may not have similar guidelines.)
For questions about Special Programs in the Global Education Office, please contact Amanda Davis: firstname.lastname@example.org, 804-828-8792.
The Global Education Office includes a number of Special Programs, including International Student Orientation; short-term, non-degree seeking student programs; and Commencement activities.
GEO / ELP Holds that affect International Students
- Student Accounting. This hold means that the student's bill must be paid before he/she will be allowed to register for the next ELP session and/or academic semester. The student must pay the balance of his/her bill in the Cashier's Office at the Harris Hall Student Services Center (1015 Floyd Ave, 804-828-8774), or online through eServices. If the student is supported by a scholarship, he/she should contact his/her sponsor to pay the bill.
- International Health Insurance. If a student has this hold, he/she needs to contact Immigration Services in GEO. The student should bring his/her insurance card or other proof of health insurance to Immigration Services, where they will make a copy of it.
- International Administrative. This hold is placed by the Immigration Services Office, and most commonly refers to issues with immigration documents or confirmation of address. If a student has this hold, he/she should immediately contact Immigration Services in GEO.
- International Admissions. The International Admissions Office places this hold, usually because they are missing documents that pertain to the student's academic acceptance (for example, a graduation certificate). Students should contact International Admissions to resolve such holds.
- Immunization. This type of hold usually means one of three things: 1) The student did not complete a tuberculosis test upon arrival at the university; 2) The student did not submit a required immunization record; 3) The student did not complete chest X-ray as required or did not submit the results of a chest X-ray to Student Health. In such cases, the student should contact Student Health (1300 West Broad Street, suite #2200, 804-828-8828). The Community Connections Office in GEO may also be able to help a student with these issues.
- Academic Advising. This hold is based on a student's eligibility for academic course work, and generally occurs when a student is transitioning from ELP to academic course work. A student should consult staff in ELP and/or the GEO Academic Advisor.
For your general information, international students at VCU fall under a wide array of Visa categories. The most common are F1 and J1, but you may see reference to others upon occasion.
|A1||Diplomatic Service/Family||HB||Temp Workers for Special Occup|
|A2||Foreign Gvt Office||I||Foreign Media Rep|
|A3||Employee A-1/A-2/Family||J1||Exchange Visitor|
|AJ||Adjustment of Status||J2||Dependent of Exchange Visitor|
|AY||Asylee||L2||Dependent of IntraCompany Tran|
|B1||Business Visitor||LA||Executive, Managerial|
|B2||Pleasure Visitor||LB||Specialized Knowledge|
|E2||Treaty Investor/Dep||O3||Dependent of O-1/O-2|
|F1||Academic Student||R1||Religious Worker|
|F2||Dependent of Student||TP||Temporary Protected Status|
|G4||International Org Emp/Family||X||Out of Status Student|
|H4||Child or Spouse of HB||Y||I-485 Adjustment of Status|