International Education Center

International Education Center Newsletter

Fall 2023


Connections International Students Newsletter

Welcome to the Fall 2023 Semester!  We are excited that you are here, and we look forward to supporting you in achieving your goals at Santa Monica College.  We hope you will take advantage of all that Santa Monica College has to offer, from our dedicated professors to our amazing support team at the IEC to the activities designed just for you, our wonderful F-1 students!

Please stop by the International Education Center anytime if we can be of service.


  • Press NicolovDean, IEC
  • Denise KinsellaAssociate Dean, IEC

Follow Our Social Media Pages

To stay up to date with current and upcoming events, please follow our Social Media Pages.

IEC Instagram       IEC Facebook        ISF Instagram           ISF Discord

Join our Events and get to know other International Students

Our next event is Dodger Baseball Night on September 19.  Check our Activities and Events page often to see what activities are planned in the future and how to sign up. We hope to see you there!

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SEVIS Requirements – Maintaining your F1 Visa Status

If this is your first semester in the U.S. 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.

To maintain your visa status and keep your SEVIS record active, it is important to enroll in and complete at least 12 units and to follow the on-ground requirement. The on-ground requirement states that most classes (at least 9 units) should be on-ground and only one online class of 1 to 3 units can count toward the 12 unit requirement.

The International Education Center (IEC) is required to have current information on F1 students. This includes address, phone number, and email address. If you have not provided the International Education Center with your current contact information, please update your information on Corsair Connect.  If you are unable to update your information in Corsair Connect, please contact the IEC for assistance.

Key ring with 2 keys and a house on it

Housing Tips

It’s always important to exercise caution when dealing with housing transactions. We strongly advise that you do not send any cash or make any payments before physically seeing the accommodation and verifying its legitimacy.

Scammers may attempt to take advantage of international students by requesting advance rent or security deposit payments without providing proper documentation or allowing you to visit the property. To avoid falling victim to such scams, follow these guidelines:

  1. Visit the property: Schedule a time to visit the accommodation in person. Take a friend with you. This will allow you to inspect the premises, assess its condition, and ensure it matches the description provided.
  2. Ask for documentation: Request copies of any necessary paperwork, such as a lease agreement or rental contract. Read and understand the terms and conditions before making any payments.
  3. Research the Landlord/Owner: Conduct a background check on the landlord or property owner. Search for their name online, verify their contact information, and consider checking reviews or testimonials from previous tenants.
  4. Proof of Ownership: Ask for proof of ownership or authorization to rent the property. This could be in the form of a property title, deed, or other legally binding documentation.
  5. Use Secure Payment Methods: When making any payments, use secure methods such as bank transfers, checks, or online platforms.

We would suggest you start by taking a look at SMC’s housing web pages.

Since Santa Monica is an upscale urban area, there are many housing options around SMC.  On the downside, apartment rentals tend to be a little more expensive in this immediate area. 

Less expensive rentals may be found in West Los Angeles, Palms, Mar Vista, Westwood and Culver City – all within an easy commute of Santa Monica College. 

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Tap Card and Student ID

Visit the Cashier’s Office page to learn how to request your METRO GoPass (TAP Card) to be able to ride the public transportation. Your student benefits fee covers the cost to ride public transportation for the whole semester!

You can also request your Student ID Card through the Cashier’s Office.

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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 90 days before the end of the semester:  September 20th. 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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Post Completion Options Workshop


An immigration attorney will be hosting a workshop on Post Completion Options. Stay tuned for more information. Download last year’s presentation.

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Health Insurance

Starting on August 25, 2023, the Santa Monica College insurance policy was changed to GeoBlue. All F-1 students will be enrolled automatically after paying tuition and fees on your student account.

GeoBlue is using the Blue Cross PPO Network. Please only use contracted Blue Cross PPO providers to save money on your out-of-pocket costs.  It is always your responsibility to verify providers are contracted with Blue Cross before seeking services.

Please look for your Welcome Email from GeoBlue.  This will have your Certificate number and a link to where you will be able to download your ID card.  The card is for your use only. Never lend this card to other students. Carry your ID card with you at all times! You will need your card when you visit a physician’s office, urgent care, hospital, or pharmacy.

Health Insurance Plan Highlights

$500,000 annual benefit maximum

$200 annual deductible


$25 office visit copay

$25 copay for mental health counseling services

$50 urgent care center copay

$100 Emergency Room copay

Prescription drugs – ($3,000 max per year):

$10 copay for Generic

$25 copay for Brand

$50 copay for injectables

Other Details:

Coverage for annual cervical cytology screening and mammography screening

No coverage for routine annual physicals

Immunizations are covered at the SMC Student Health Center ONLY

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Students enrolled in the medical plan are eligible for AcademicLiveCare!

This is a TeleHealth platform for virtual doctor visits 24/7 from your smartphone, computer, or other mobile device – all with $0 cost to you!

  • Services include General Care, Urgent Care, Psychiatry, Therapy/Counseling, and Nutritional counseling

To use this service – follow these simple steps:

  1. Log into:
  2. Click “Get Connected”, and then visit “AcademicLiveCare”
  3. Sign up using your school email address or Log in if you already have an account.
  4. Complete your profile.
  5. When prompted, enter Service Key ALC – this allows you to see the doctors/providers in California.
  6. Once you schedule your appointment, right before you are connected to the provider you will enter your Coupon Code.  Enter the code and click apply to make the cost of your visit free.   To find your coupon code, please check your SMC email as the code is listed in the AcademicLiveCare welcome email.  Please be sure to check your spam filter, if you do not see this email. 

For a visual guide, download the AcademicLiveCare User Guide

If you have any questions about the new insurance plan or how to use AcademicLiveCare, please visit our website,

For more information, please visit this webpage for useful links and guidance: Health Care Insurance

Group of people talking around pole that says Join Us

Join a club

A good way to get involved at SMC and get to know like-minded students, is to join a club that shares your interests! This is also a nice way to explore new interests!

Follow the Associated Students Instagram page for the latest updates and information on club events, such as Club Row! 

Group of students posing at the beach

 Meet our Peer Mentors!


Keep in touch with our Peer Mentors through Unibuddy and their Blogs!

Message From International Counseling

Welcome to Fall 2023!

Counselors are available to assist and guide you in your SMC academic journey. We are available to see students in-person and online via Zoom Express. You may also email us via AskIECC; this is an excellent resource for students who are unable to use Zoom, need forms, or who prefer a written response. Please visit our International Counseling page to access our services.

Enrollment Tips and Strategies: 

Check class schedule - The schedule is dynamic with changes updated frequently. 

Open Seat Notification List - If someone drops a class on this list, you will be notified but you need to move quickly, as all students on this list are also notified. 

Wait lists (opens two weeks before the start of a term) - The Open Seat Notification feature will turn into a wait list and students will have an actual number on this list.

“CRASH” - Email instructors asking for permission to get into their section (use campus directory to find e-mails). The instructor will make a decision based on many factors, but it’s worth a try. 

“Swap a Class” option (secure 12 units first) - By using this feature, you will not be dropped from the section you are using to swap as the system will first check to see if the section you want to add is still available. If you swap after the refund deadline, you will have to pay for the new class. 

“Request a Class” - If enough students request the same section, the department may consider opening a new course. 

Refund Deadline - Don't forget to make any changes to your schedule before the refund deadline to avoid losing money and having to pay again! Check your Corsair Connect to find the refund dates.

Connect with your Instructors: Don't be shy to ask questions or seek help from your instructors. They really care about how you're doing and want to support you throughout your journey. Building a good relationship with them can be helpful, especially if you ever face any problems or conflicts.

Tutoring Services: Need some extra help with your studies? No worries! We've got free tutoring services available at our Tutoring Center for many different subjects. Making an appointment is easy, just visit the Tutoring Center to find out how!

Stay Healthy: Taking care of yourself is essential for a smooth cultural adjustment. Remember to eat well, get enough exercise, and rest properly. Find an activity you enjoy and make it part of your routine to help reduce stress. Luckily, we have a fitness center and pool right here at Santa Monica College. It's available for all students to use. So, stay active, have fun, and keep yourself in good shape!

Mental Health Matters: We care about your mental well-being too. Our Center of Wellness and Wellbeing offers free, confidential individual therapy sessions and referral services. Remember, your mental health is just as important as your physical health.


We hope these tips and strategies help you settle in and make the most of your time at our college. If you ever need anything, don't hesitate to reach out. We're here to support you every step of the way!

Counseling In Person Office Hours

Please check the Counseling pagefor hours.

Contact an International Counselor Remotely

Laptop on desk, Zoom logo on laptop screen

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

Monday through Thursday: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 

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Email your non-urgent questions via an online form. A counselor will respond to you in 5-7 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!

Connect with other F1 international students via Zoom and make new FRIENDS
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Events and Activities Throughout the Semester


The International Education Center will have events and activities throughout the semester! Please be sure to check our Student Activities and Clubs page for more details of upcoming events and follow our Social Media accounts!


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IEC Peer Mentors' Open House


Thursdays, 11:15 a.m. PST

Join our Peer Mentor Open House every Thursday from 11:15am to 12:30pm through Zoom. It is a great chance to meet our Peer Mentors and other SMC students, ask any questions, or discuss any concerns you may have!

groups of students working together to carve pumpkins

ISF Meetings

The ISF is a club that promotes relationship building between both domestic and international students at Santa Monica College, encourages student involvement and leadership, and emphasizes the importance of cultural exchange and enrichment.



College closed on the following holidays:

DATE Holiday

Friday, November 10th

Veteran's Day

Thursday and Friday, November 23rd and 24th


Stay Connected with IEC!