International Education Center

International Education Center Newsletter

Fall 2021, Issue 1


Connections International Students Newsletter

Welcome to the Fall 2021 semester! We are excited to be joined by over 400 new students, and to welcome back more than 1,000 returning international students! The past 18 months have been very challenging, and we are so proud of all of you for your resilience in sticking with your studies and making progress towards your goals during this unprecedented time. Many of you are taking advantage of the on-ground classes that are being offered this semester. We hope you are enjoying your in-person experience, and we look forward to seeing you on campus!

Our support services continue to be offered remotely. Please visit the International Education Center website to find out what options you have to meet with a counselor, meet with an immigration specialist, request a letter, or ask for other types of assistance. We can also answer your questions about the Covid-19 vaccination requirement to take on-ground classes at Santa Monica College. We are here to support you and help you achieve your goals.

Did you know that the International Education Center offers two online social events each week? Look further in this newsletter to find out how to join our Open House on Tuesday mornings, and our Mingle on Friday afternoons. These are both great opportunities to meet other students, whether you are studying in Santa Monica, or studying from home!

We wish you a wonderful Fall semester, and can't wait to hear about all that you are learning and doing!

All the Best,

Pressian Nicolov, Dean, IEC

Denise Kinsella, Associate Dean, IEC

Important reminders for new and continuing students:

  • Wear your mask, wash your hand, and practice social distancing.
  • Check your SMC email daily
  • Join IEC and other campus virtual meetings. It is a great way to connect with friends and get your questions answered.
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Personal Information Update

The International Education Center is required to have current information on F1 students. This includes address, phone number, and email address. If you have not provided IEC with your current contact information, please email us at You may still update your information on Corsair Connect, but you must also notify the International Education Center.
students on video call

F-1 Students Continuing Studies Outside the U.S. in Fall 2021

In order to maintain your F1 status from your home country, you must complete the semester with 12 units. If you are below 12 units and are not approved for a reduced course load, your I-20 will be terminated at the end of the semester.

Check-in reminder: 

If this is your first semester at SMC, make sure you submit the check-in form within 10 days of arrival. If you have not done it yet, do it now by clicking on this Check-In-Form link


Graduating at the end of Fall and want to apply for OPT?

Students graduating at the end of the fall semester can apply for OPT earlier than normal: 120 days before the end of the semester instead of the normal 90 days. Contact a counselor now to request the ‘OPT request form'. Instructions will then be sent to you about how to meet with an Immigration Specialist to complete the application for OPT. 

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Health Insurance

A referral is required any time SMC's Student Health Center or Center for Wellness and Wellbeing is open. Due to COVID-19, the referral is not currently required. Effective 8/25/21, all students are required to obtain a new insurance ID card.

Click here to download the Sydney App to get your member ID card right away and to find doctors. Or you may click here to register your Anthem Blue Cross account.

Need to see a doctor? Click here to find an Anthem Blue Cross Provider.

If you need to be tested for coronavirus: Your health plan will cover the costs for doctor-ordered COVID-19/coronavirus testing with no copay or deductible, including at out-of-network facilities if an in-network provider is not accessible.

If you contract coronavirus: Your health plan will provide coverage for COVID-19/coronavirus treatment the same as it would any other illness. 

The International Student Insurance Plan moved to Anthem Blue Cross on 08/25/21. Blue Cross has the largest provider network nationwide, allowing you to seek services from thousands of contracted doctors, specialists, urgent care centers and hospitals anywhere in the US.  The name of your new insurance plan is “Blue Cross PPO” – also called “Blue Cross Prudent Buyer”. When using Blue Cross PPO providers, expect a $25 office and specialist visit copayment, $25 urgent care visit copayment and a $50 emergency room copayment when using contracted Blue Cross PPO providers.  There is a $50 annual deductible for International students and dependents and a $250 annual deductible for OPT students and their dependents. 

As with all insurance plans, some services have pre-certification requirements, limitations and exclusions.  Always consult the plan document or Anthem Customer Service for more details.

New Benefit – Dental Coverage with Anthem Blue Cross! We have added dental cleanings and basic restorative services -- up to a $750 maximum benefit per year!   This benefit will cover Diagnostic and Preventive services and basic restorative dental services up to $750 per plan year!   There is a $50 deductible + 20% coinsurance due for basic restorative services. Always use contracted Blue Cross Dental providers to maximize your benefit. Remember, non-contracted providers can “balance bill” you for anything the insurance does not pay.

How to reach an International Counselor

Counseling Office Hours

  • Monday - Thursday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

  • Friday, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Contact an International Counselor

Zoom logo

Zoom Express Counseling


Available to all F-1 and overseas international students

Meet with a counselor for a 10-15 minute session. If waiting room is closed, check again at a later time

Student counselor



Email your non-urgent questions via an online form. A counselor will respond to you in 3 - 5 business days.


Additional Campus Resources

IEC wants you to know you can always talk to us or use the other resources on campus. Here are a few we recommend:


Let's be social!

Meet international students, IEC Peer Mentors and staff every Tuesday and Friday!
students playing games

Weekly Mingle


Fridays, 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm PST

Join the IEC Team for a social hour of games, conversation and fun.  Connect with IEC Peer Mentors, SMC students and staff to explore different themes. Check your SMC email for the weekly zoom link.

IEC Peer Mentor Open House


Tuesdays, 11:15 am PST

Take a break and connect! IEC Peer Mentor Open House is a great opportunity to hang out, reach out, or just chill out with IEC Peer Mentors. Share what’s on your mind, gripe about homework, ask questions, or meet new friends. Check your SMC email for the weekly zoom link.

Meet our Amazing Peer Mentors!


Kota, Japan - Animation 

Antoine, Lebanon -  Pre-Engineering

Liana, Russia - Film

Tae, S.Korea - Pre-Nursing

Montserrat, Mexico - 

Bri, Vietnam - Film 


College closed on the following holidays:

See All Events
Jul 4
Independence Day: Campus Closed

Stay Connected with IEC!