From: International Student Services
Date: February 24, 2021
Subject: ISS News, February 24, 2021: Check In With ISS, Nominate for Global Citizen Awards, OPT & CPT Workshops and Other Information, Tax Information, Study Abroad Information, Good Vibes, & More!


February 24, 2021


in this issue:

  1. Check In with ISS
  2. New Students, Look Around Your New Homes
  3. OPT & CPT Workshops
  4. OPT & STEM OPT Students- Follow These Simple Steps for Reporting Updates
  5. Features
  6. Campus Happenings
  7. Other Opportunities
  8. Good Vibes Only
  9. Orientation with ISS
  10. Winter Weather 101
  11. Schedule an Appointment to Apply for SSN
  12. Important Information for Students With an I-20 End Date of May 16, 2021
  13. Update on USCIS Delays
  14. Tax Information for 2020 Filing Year


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.

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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!

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Winter Weather 101

We want you to stay warm this winter! Be sure that you're dressing appropriately for the Cleveland weather.

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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.

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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.


Attention Read Me sign

Important Information for Students With an I-20 End Date of May 16, 2021

If you have an I-20 with an End Date of May 16, 2021, you may need your I-20 adjusted since the university's scheduled commencement date has shifted to May 30, 2021. Here is what you need to know about how ISS will help you.
If you plan to:
...graduate this May and immediately return home, you do not need to take any action to extend your I-20 to May 30, 2021. ISS staff will automatically extend your I-20 starting in April. ISS will not automatically print a copy of this extended I-20. If you would like one, you can request a reprinted I-20 at that time.  Instructions will be provided to request the reprint.
...graduate later than May 30, 2021 because you need more time to complete your studies, you will need to request an extension for your I-20. You can submit this request at this link any time starting in March. Following the instructions in the link, you will work with your academic advisor (graduate students) or Undergraduate Dean (undergraduate students) to affirm your need for an extension. ISS cannot extend I-20s after they expire, so it is important you file this before the middle of May.
...graduate and apply for OPT, you will not need to request any adjustment to your I-20 to reflect the May 30, 2021 end date. Your end date will automatically be adjusted when your OPT I-20 is created. To find more information on the OPT application process, please read this page.
ISS has emailed all students with an I-20 End Date of May 16, 2021. If you think that you received this email in error or have another situation not listed above,  please email ISS at or speak with an advisor during Advising Hours.

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 Update on OPT graphic
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OPT & STEM OPT Students- Follow These Simple Steps for Reporting Updates

Reporting related to your personal contact and employment information is a critical part of maintaining status while authorized for either OPT or STEM OPT. Here are instructions for you to follow to ensure that both ISS and the U.S. Government receive the information that they need. Follow these simple steps to ensure that your visa status is protected!

Alumni: If you received payment from CWRU during the last calendar year, you must also make sure that your address is properly listed in SIS to receive the W-2.

If you have not received your W-2, you'll need to contact Payroll by email to request an appointment to pick up your W-2 in person.

More information:

Tax Information for 2020 Filing Year

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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.

There is more on our website called Information on Filing Taxes and if you have any questions, the Sprintax team will be happy to help via their 24/7 live chat function or email  ISS staff members cannot advise you on your questions, which is why we partner with the experts at Sprintax.

image from Sprintax's blog at
Sprintax logo

Sprintax Offers Tax Webinars to Prepare for Tax Filing Season 2020 

ISS partners with Sprintax to provide international students, who are considered non-resident aliens for tax purposes, with expert assistance when filing their US taxes.

The Sprintax team will be hosting a series of free open tax webinars to provide helpful information around non-resident tax filing obligations.

You can find the details and registration links below for each (these are all in EST). 

The informational webinars will cover the same topics on each occasion:

  • An overview of tax for nonresident students and scholars
  • Who must file a 2020 US tax return
  • What income forms students/scholars may receive
  • Forms that need to be completed and sent to the IRS
  • We cover terms like FICA, ITIN and Form 1098-T
  • What happens if students don’t file, or misfile
  • State tax returns
  • IRS stimulus payments
  • Sprintax overview


Global citizen award flyer

Global Citizen Award Nominations are Open

The Center for International Affairs invites the university community including faculty, staff and currently enrolled students, to submit nominations for the 2021 Global Citizen Awards.

The awards honor outstanding students, faculty or staff, campus partners and student organizations that enhance the international student experience, create a sense of community and champion internationalization at Case Western Reserve University.

Winners of the Global Citizen Awards will be announced during a virtual ceremony on Thursday, April 22.

Completed nominations are due by 11:59 pm on Friday, March 26, 2021.

You can learn more and make a nomination here:

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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!

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Virtual Global & Intercultural Learning Opportunities for Spring & Summer

CWRU students are able to expand their global perspective without leaving home by participating in the Office of Education Abroad’s Virtual Global and Intercultural Learning opportunities this spring and summer!

Through intentional cultural engagement and professional projects, students can expand their horizons and skill sets through global internships, research, service learning, and coursework opportunities.

The programs help students to boost their transcript and resume and allow them to transfer credits back to CWRU.

Students can explore a curated list of opportunities appropriate for CWRU and find the one that's best for them here:

One of these opportunities is the Office of Education Abroad’s Learning Across Cultures series taking place in March. Students will have a chance to explore self-awareness, intercultural communication, cultural worldview and knowledge, intercultural empathy and understanding through weekly interactive workshops, reflections, readings and feedback. The series will meet 3 times from March 4 - 18, on Thursdays from 4 - 5 pm ET.

Participation is FREE and the series is based on the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ Intercultural Learning rubric. Registration is due by Monday, February 15 on the Study Abroad CampusGroups page:

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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.

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Campus Happenings

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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.

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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


Light the Campus

Tuesday, March 2
5:00pm - 6:00pm
KSL Oval, 10900 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, United States
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Each year, CWRU lights a part of campus to remember community members or their loved ones who have passed away. Students, faculty and staff can submit names to be read during the ceremony. 

Light the Campus ceremony will be held in-person on Tuesday, March 2 at 5:00pm outside of KSL Oval; masking and social distancing protocols will be followed. 

Students, Faculty and Staff can submit names to be read here 

In addition to lighting the trees during the ceremony, students, faculty and staff can pick-up a battery-powered light in Thwing after the ceremony to display in their office, dorm or home window throughout the month of March. If you would like a candle, please register Candles need to be picked-up in person the day of the ceremony.


Other Opportunities

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Participate in a Study about the Pandemic's Impact on International Students 

Dear Friend,

We trust you and others are staying safe and healthy, and are glad that you are back in school after the interruption because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The purpose of this research study is to understand the impact of the COVID-19 virus pandemic on international students. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University are conducting this study. The questionnaire should take 5-10 minutes to complete. If you are willing to participate, please click on this survey link:

Thanks in advance of your participation in this study.


May Lin                                                                      Sena Narendran

Chinese New Year Flyer
brite winter logo from

Brite Winter

Brite Winter is the premier Cleveland event between New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day and a showcase for Northeastern Ohio’s artists, musicians, and creative culture.

Brite Winter marries fire, participatory art, food, music, and games to build community while helping us embrace the cold winter months.

Learn more about this year's virtual line up for the March 5 and April 9, 2021 events!

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!

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Sick of looking outside and seeing snow? WindowSwap- Open a new window somewhere in the world!