From: International Student Services
Date: February 17, 2021
Subject: ISS News, February 17, 2021: Check In With ISS, OPT Workshops, Tax Information, Virtual Career Fair & Professional Development, H-1B Workshop Recording Available, Call for Nominations, Wellness & Mindfulness, Study Abroad Throwback Photo Contest, Good Vib


February 17, 2021


in this issue:

  1. Check In with ISS
  2. Orientation with ISS
  3. Students in Distant Time Zones
  4. Important: Working as an International Student
  5. Updating Address Information in SIS
  6. Virtual Advising
  7. New Virtual Mental Health Options for CWRU Students- Wherever They Are
  8. Food Insecurity Resources
  9. Winter Shuttle Schedule
  10. Schedule an Appointment to Apply for SSN
  11. H-1B Visa Workshop Recording Available
  12. Graduating at the End of the Semester? Think About OPT
  13. USCIS Acknowledges Delays in Receipt Notices for OPT
  14. Tax Deadline in April: Forms & Sprintax Availability
  15. Sprintax Offer Nonresident Tax Overview for OPT / CPT
  16. Sprintax Answers Your COVID Stimulus Payment Questions
  17. Features
  18. Campus Happenings
  19. Other Opportunities
  20. Good Vibes Only
  21. USCIS Reaches Fiscal Year 2021 H-1B Cap


ISS Staff is available to students, without an appointment, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday during advising hours:

11am to 3pm- through virtual advising available online

There are no advising hours on Wednesday.


If you need to speak with an advisor outside of our advising hours, please send an email to to schedule an appointment. Please provide your full, legal name and a brief description of the nature of your appointment when you contact us.

check in on a computer screen

Check In with ISS

If you are beginning a program at CWRU this semester or received a check-in message from ISS, you need to check in online as part of the process to maintain your visa status.

If you will be on campus this semester to begin your program, please access the Instructions on How to Check In with ISS and complete the process. Please note that you:

  • check in online AFTER you arrive in the US with your valid I-20 or DS-2019
  • can check in up to 30 days before the program start date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019
  • must check in by the start date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019. If there is a delay, please notify us immediately

We cannot process any on-campus employment or Social Security Number paperwork until you have been checked in.

If you will not be coming to the United States this fall, are either attending courses entirely remotely (from either within the United States or abroad), and/or deferring your admission to a future semester, do not check in using the instructions above. It is critical that you complete the survey instead.  If you have not done so yet, please do so immediately. 

Thank you for your attention and cooperation!

ISS orientation slide

Orientation with ISS

Did you miss Orientation with ISS? The orientation session reviews the most fundamental rules and regulations as well as resources that ISS provides in order to help you maintain your status and enhance your time at Case Western Reserve University

Log into Terra Dotta and view the presentation materials here!

world map with clocks to show time zones

Students in Distant Time Zones

Provost Vinson sent a message about the university's plan to address the academic challenges that living in distant time zones pose for our students.

Please be sure to review the message and to reach out for assistance if you need it.  Staff in ISS and many offices across campus are here to support you!

clip are of house and magnifying house

New Students, Look Around Your New Homes

Living spaces in the US may be very different from those in your home countries. Please pay attention to the differences to avoid problems with landlords or the University.

Common differences:

There are no drains in the floors of bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc.

Water on the floor will damage carpet and wood floors

Water on the floor will likely go down the walls into apartments on lower floors and damage walls, ceilings, etc.

Windows may be sealed shut. If they are, do not open them

Walls are usually painted drywall, not cinder block and whitewash

Appliances may be electric or gas

Quiet hours may be strictly enforced

Heat may be controlled by the landlord or management company rather than by you

Pet policies are strictly enforced

You may be held financially responsible for any damage you cause, even if you cause it by accident

Lease agreements are binding contracts for the length of the lease—follow the terms of your lease agreements carefully

If you encounter a problems with on-campus housing, please notify your RA or the Housing Office immediately. If you encounter a problem with a landlord or management company, please feel free to contact ISS for help.

Updating Address information in SIS

Federal regulations require that all international students report their current address to SEVIS and any changes within 10 days. It is also important that the university has your current address on file at all times.

The best way to ensure that you are complying with federal regulations and university policy is to check your address for accuracy in SIS and report any changes through SIS. Information in SIS is shared with ISS' system (Terra Dotta) and then ISS can report changes of information to SEVIS.

Ensuring that information is always reported to and updated in SIS ensures that you will always get the information that you need from CWRU and that you are properly maintaining your status as a student visa holder. Failure to report your address properly is a violation of status that can have serious consequences.

virtual advising chat box

Chat with ISS Staff Online During Advising Hours

Have a question? Need Support? Connect with an ISS staff member during Virtual Advising.

Virtual Advising is available Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., EST. The chat box (it looks just like the picture) will be available on our website.

You can request an appointment to speak with an advisor by zoom or phone by emailing Please be prepared to briefly describe the nature of your appointment when you contact us so that we can prepare. Same-day appointments are not generally available; an appointment for the next business day is typically the earliest we can schedule.

Advisors are looking forward to chatting with you. We are here to help!

support spelled in scrabble tiles

New Virtual Mental Health Option for CWRU Students—Wherever They Are

CWRU has announced a new initiative to help ensure that students living outside of Ohio can access mental health care during these trying times called CWRU Care. CWRU Care is a 24/7 mental telehealth care service that undergraduate, graduate and professional students can access from wherever they are.

For more information about the program or to make an appointment, please visit

box of food image

Food Insecurity Resources

If you know someone who is experiencing food insecurity, or a lack of access to good, please know that there this is help. The Dean of Students Office and campus partners have collaborated to create a website compiling resources available to CWRU students who may be food insecure. The website provides information about available resources, including services provided, location, hours and contact information. If you have questions or concerns about food insecurity or the resources available to help, please contact the Dean of Students office.

winter shuttle schedule

Winter Shuttle Schedule

Check this out so you're not standing out in the cold and getting to where you want to go!


Schedule an Appointment to Apply for SSN

While Social Security offices are closed due to COVID-19, you will need to schedule an appointment to submit your application for the SSN.  ISS staff has spoken with staff at the Shaker Heights office and here is the protocol to follow:

  1. Call 1-877-635-3546, then press "2" as an option for the first menu, then press "0" to speak with a staff member.
  2. Tell the staff member that you would like to meet with a manager to apply for the SSN.  Managers are generally available on Monday and Tuesday mornings.
  3. The staff member will ask for your full, legal name to enter your appointment in the system. Speak very slowly and clearly.  It will be helpful to spell your name using examples ( C for Charlie, A for Apple, T for Turtle, etc.).
  4. A 30 minute appointment will be scheduled for you. You MUST be prompt.  ISS recommends that you arrive 5-10 minutes early.
  5. On the day of your appointment, you must have all of your documentation in order and completed:
  6. When you arrive for your appointment, go to the front door of the office, wearing a mask, and be ready to hand your completed paperwork to the manager.
  7. The manager will take your documents inside to process and return to let you know when everything is complete.
  8. You should expect to receive your SSN at the address that you list on your SS-5 when it is ready.

We hope this information is helpful to you.  If you need to visit a different Social Security Administration, you can find a location near you by visiting their website.  Call that office and ask what their SSN application process is.

OPT and CPT workshop branding telling students to check the schedule

OPT & CPT Workshops

ISS is offering Optional Practical Training (OPT) and CPT Workshops to go over in detail the application process, student responsibilities, and other important considerations.

Being well informed before applying for either authorization is extremely important and applying early is critical!

USCIS is publishing that it takes 3-5 months to process submitted OPT applications. Plan to complete a required OPT workshop as early as possible to be best prepared. Remember, you do not need to have a job offer to apply for OPT!

You do need to have a job offer before applying for CPT authorization and you are not eligible to begin your experience until you have proper authorization in place. It can take several days to become authorized.

Virtual workshops led by an advisor have been scheduled and information about required registration, attendance, and the application process can be found on our website under the OPT and CPT sections.

uscis logo

USCIS Acknowledges Delays in Receipt Notices for OPT

ISS has been hearing from many students who are concerned, and rightfully so, about not having received their receipt notices for OPT applications that they submitted in November and through the end of 2020. While ISS staff hope our responses have been reassuring- that this is a known issue with USCIS that is affecting students nationwide and not likely something wrong with your personal application- we can now share that USCIS very recently provided an update about their significant delays in issuing receipt notices. You can read USCIS's memo here.  We hope this means that these known issues will be resolved soon and processing will speed up.

We know that these unprecedented delays may continue to cause students stress.  International education professionals are working together to make sure that USCIS understands how this is affecting students.  NAFSA, a professional organization dedicated to international education and student advocacy, is in contact with the USCIS Ombudsman's Office about this situation.

If it has been 30 days since your application was received, you may choose to:

Be sure to keep confirmation of your application's delivery. This delivery date is very important because OPT/STEM OPT Extension deadlines are linked to the date USCIS receives your application, not the date you receive your Receipt Notice. 

If you receive any letters from USCIS, please email a pdf of the letter to so that staff can assist you as needed.  If you have additional questions, you are always welcome to contact ISS!

tax time clip art

Tax Deadline in April: Forms & Sprintax Availablity

Sprintax is a tax-return-preparation software program designed primarily for international students and other educational visa holders. It can help you prepare your U.S. federal income tax return and assist you in preparing Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ.

You may access Sprintax and begin preparing your tax return by following these steps:

  1. Register and follow the simple instructions
  2. Complete the online questionnaire
  3. Enter Case Western Reserve University’s unique code.  This code was sent to you via email on February 17.
  4. Sprintax will prepare your tax return

If Sprintax determines that you are required to file state taxes, you will have the opportunity to prepare those state taxes. You are not required to use Sprintax to file state taxes but, remember, it is your responsibility to comply with the law and properly file all taxes.

If by now, you haven't received your W-2 from CWRU, contact Payroll at If you were authorized to work for another employer, you should contact their payroll department.

For more information regarding the 1098-T, please visit Financial Services website to download the Nonresident Alien 1098-T Request Form.

1042-S forms will be prepared by mid-March and sent to students by Payroll. Please contact Payroll if you have questions about the issuance of your 1042-S.

For more information, visit our Information on Filing Taxes page.

sprintax logo with opt/cpt mention

Sprintax Offers Nonresident Tax Overview for OPT/CPT

This webinar is a good option for anyone that is about to head out on authorized practical training. The webinar will go through an overview of tax related principles for students as they embark on employment, such as residency for tax purposes, FICA taxes, treaty eligibility, tax forms that they may be asked to complete, and an overview of the Sprintax TDS Personal software to help outline how the software can help identify the above for them. 

Sprintax Nonresident Tax Overview for OPT/CPT (A) on Feb 17, 2021 1:00 PM EST – Register here

image from Sprintax's blog at
H1B Visa image

USICS Reaches Fiscal Year 2021 H-1B Cap

On February 16, 2021, USCIS shared,

"USCIS has received a sufficient number of petitions needed to reach the congressionally mandated 65,000 H-1B visa regular cap and the 20,000 H-1B visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap, for fiscal year (FY) 2021.

We have completed sending non-selection notifications to registrants’ online accounts. The status for registrations properly submitted for the FY 2021 H-1B numerical allocations, but that were not selected, will now show:

* Not Selected: Not selected for this fiscal year.

We will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed for current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, are exempt from the FY 2021 H-1B cap. We will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

* Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;

* Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;

* Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and

* Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. We encourage H-1B petitioners to subscribe to the H-1B cap season email updates located on the H-1B Cap Season page.


H1b flyer image

H-1B Visa Workshop Recording Available

If you were unable to attend the session last week, you can view it now here to get all of the information!

study abroad photo contest flyer

Enter the Study Abroad Throwback Photo Contest

Relive your study abroad experience with CWRU by entering the Study Abroad Throwback Photo Contest!

While the pandemic has put study abroad programs on hold the Office of Education Abroad knows students still have lots of great photos from their past study abroad experiences to enter into the contest and win prizes!

The photos submitted will be used to help show what studying abroad is really like and encourage other students to explore the various opportunities available to all majors.

The categories and prizes for each are:

  • Overall Winner: $75
  • The World is Your Classroom: $75
  • Cultural Experience: $50
  • Spartans Abroad: $50
  • Scenery: $50
  • Vintage (for CWRU alumni): $50
  • Facebook’s Most Likes: $50

A description of each category, as well as details on how to submit your photos, can be found at All submissions are due by Friday, April 9!

Please do not submit photos from other travel experiences or any previously entered in the Study Abroad Photo Contest.

CLE Bucket List Flyer

Campus Happenings

social change diagram

Social Change Monthly Series by CCEL

February Focus: Advocacy

In collaboration with campus and community partners, the Center for Civic Engagement & Learning (CCEL) is pleased to continue its new series highlighting monthly a different form of civic engagement that contributes to social change. February’s theme is Advocacy. Explore one of the many opportunities to hear from Cleveland advocates and to learn advocacy tools to take action on causes you care about. Stay tuned to the Social Change Series website for upcoming opportunities:

Events are made possible through the support of the 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at CWRU to continue Dr. King’s commitment to social justice.

CAREer Network Flyer

Alumni CAREer Network "Mixers"

The Alumni Association of CWRU and the Office of Post-Graduate Planning and Experiential Education invite all students and alumni to meet classmates who share your geographic proximity, career interests and other experiences. Alumni CAREer Network “mixers” bring the CWRU community closer together, despite physical distance.

Please join one (or all) of these events to meet and learn more about the students and alumni in your CWRU network. In addition, we hope you join a regional or affinity community within the CWRU Connect: Alumni CAREer Network to carry on the conversations started during these events. 

Tuesday, February 16
Noon - 1 p.m. EST

Alumni Hosts: Adrian Hattan (CWR ‘20), CWRU Homecoming Royalty; Richie Lazear (CWR '19), Houston Chapter Leader; Julia Wright (CWR ’20)

Wednesday, February 17
8 p.m. - 9 p.m. EST

Alumni Hosts: Ashi Batchu (CWR ‘11), Bay Area Alumni Chapter Leader; Vincenzo Volpe (CWR ‘17), CWRU Pride Alumni Network

Thursday, February 18
8 a.m. - 9 a.m. EST

Alumni Hosts: Hiram Cortez (CWR ‘16), Latinx Alumni Association President; Tobili Hatcher (CWR'20), Cleveland Alumni Chapter Leader; Yi Sun (SAS ‘17), Columbus Alumni Chapter Leader



Mentorship Throughout Your Career

Thursday, February 18
6:00pm - 7:00pm
Private Location (rsvp to display)
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The Graduate Student Council brings you a panel on mentorship throughout your career, as both a mentor and mentee. The three panelists are Dr. Heather Burton, Senior Director for Faculty and Institutional Diversity, Dr. Shemariah Arki, founder and program director for of the Ellipsis Institute for Women of Color in the Academy, and Mr. Arnold Huffman, CWRU alumni and Founder and CEO at Digital Yalo. Gift cards will be raffled off to attendees after the panel.

lab dish with pink liquid

Plan Your Research Experience with SOURCE

Ready to start looking for research and creative project opportunities? Attend an upcoming 50-minute information session offered by Support of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors.

These sessions provide you with the basic information for finding research on and around CWRU during the academic year and provides some guidance for students looking for summer research.

All times are Eastern time unless otherwise noted.

  • Friday, Feb. 19, 8:30 a.m.

  • Tuesday, Feb. 23, 7 p.m.

  • Monday, March 1, 8:30 a.m.

  • Thursday, March 11, 4 p.m.

  • Friday, March 19, 8:30 a.m.

  • Tuesday, March 23, 7 p.m.

  • Monday, March 29, 8:30 a.m.

  • Thursday, April 8, 4 p.m.

  • Friday, April 16, 8:30 a.m.

  • Tuesday, April 20, 7 p.m.

  • Monday, April 26, 8:30 a.m.

All workshops will be conducted via Zoom.

Register for an upcoming workshop in Handshake.

ISF hangout flyer and invitation
hands typing on a laptop keyboard

Upcoming Career Fairs

Visit the Post-Graduate Planning and Experiential Education website for more information about upcoming fairs and how to prepare and make the most of your experience. 

Business, Arts & Service Career Fair

When | Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

About | Employers who attend this event are interested in recruiting CWRU students who are seeking careers in business, social sciences, law/ government, public service, art, and more. Participants who attend this event will learn important information on internships, co-ops, practicum, and full-time employment.

image from about virtaul grad school fair

Highre Virtual Grad School Fair

The Virtual Grad School Fair provides an opportunity to meet with admissions officers from top universities, learn about graduate and professional schools, and get an early start on the application process.

SLAC 2021 flyer

wooden mindfulness sign
sign that looks like a road sign with Support written on it


Support Groups & Mindfulness Starting in Februray

Virtual support for students is available to all CWRU, CIA, CIM and KSU Podiatry undergraduate, graduate and professional students regardless of where you currently reside.  Visit University Health and Counseling Services site to learn more and to register to receive a Zoom link.

BIPOC Support Space
Scheduled 30 minute, 1:1, confidential Zoom consultations with Multicultural Specialist, Naomi Drakeford, Ph.D. Support Space is good for students: looking for a space to talk, needing input on mental health concern, searching for a safe outlet to discuss experiences as BIPOC on campus and beyond.

Koru Mindfulness
Koru Mindfulness is a four session course that will teach you a wide variety of mindfulness skills in a group learning environment. These skills will help you incorporate mindfulness into your daily life so that you can experience the benefits of less stress, better sleep and improved self-compassion. Please make sure that you can attend all four sessions, as registration is limited to twelve participants.

Building Hope & Resiliency
This skills based workshop is designed to help students learn new coping strategies to manage stress and build resiliency during stressful times. In this group, you will learn skills that will help combat anxious thoughts, manage emotions in healthier ways, improve self-care, and learn to communicate more effectively with others. This is a six week workshop, you will be automatically registered for all 6 sessions.

Anxiety Toolbox
Anxiety Toolbox is a fast-paced, 3-session seminar intended to help increase understanding and knowledge about anxiety. The goal is to provide students with some skills to recognize symptoms they may be experiencing.

Getting Unstuck
Getting Unstuck is a fast-paced, 3-session seminar intended to help increase your understanding and knowledge about depression. The goal is to provide you with some skills to recognize and manage symptoms you may be experiencing. Must attend all 3sessions

MOVE Forward
Feeling stuck? Having a hard time coping with change? Feeling lost or directionless? Learn how to MOVE from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, while realizing your personal values and creating life goals. MOVE towards a life that really matters to you! Must commit to attending 3 virtual workshops.

The Black Student Support Group is a closed space for Black Students only to process recent events, racism, protests, etc. affecting the Black community and receive support. They can register through the UH&CS Campus Groups page. Black students can sign up and attend just one week or attend multiple weeks. Spring 2021 dates coming soon!

Other Opportunities

Chinese New Year Flyer

Good Vibes Only

During this very challenging time, ISS staff wants you to know that we are thinking about you- hoping you are safe, healthy, staying positive- and sending out good vibes!

In this section, we are including some things that we hope will make you laugh and smile, help you relax, be entertaining, give you something to do, etc.

This is a good vibes only section!

arabic words

Dr. Gao Drops Some Knowledge about Toothpaste!