From: International Student Services
Date: January 27, 2021
Subject: ISS News, January 27, 2021: New COVID-19 Website Launches, Check In with ISS, Delays with OPT Receipts, SEVP Guidance for Spring 2021, H-1B Workshop, New Mental Health Options, Travel Signatures, Emergency Food Assistance, Important Tax Information, Good


January 27, 2021


in this issue:

  1. SEVP Guidance for Spring 2021
  2. Check In with ISS
  3. USCIS Acknowledges Delays in Receipt Notices for OPT
  4. Virtual Advising
  5. Need a Fresh Travel Signature?
  6. GRADS: Waiver of Registration Information
  7. Sprintax Answers Your COVID Stimulus Payment Questions
  8. Sprintax Offers Tax Webinars to Prepare for Tax Filing Season 2020
  9. 6 Tips for Winter Driving in Northeast Ohio
  10. Beware of Scams
  11. Local Emergency Food Assistance
  12. Features
  13. Campus Happenings
  14. Other Opportunities
  15. Good Vibes Only
  16. New Virtual Mental Health Options for CWRU Students- Wherever They Are
  17. CWRU Launches a New COVID-19 Website


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.

cwru sign on binary walk way

SEVP Guidance for Spring 2021

I wrote in December about the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) announcement that the Student and Exchange Visitor Program’s (SEVP) would continue to apply its fall 2020 federal guidance through spring 2021. As a result, international students will be able to engage in distance learning that exceeds existing regulatory limits in light of the pandemic’s ongoing public health risks and safety concerns. 

ISS’ Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates website now includes information about Spring 2021 SEVP Guidance.  Please take your time when reading this information and pay particular attention to how the status of your SEVIS record in Spring 2020, when the COVID-10 guidance was released, determines your options for maintaining status in Spring 2021.

We understand that this information is complicated and can affect students’ academic plans.  We also acknowledge that students may need assistance in evaluating their individual circumstances for maintaining status.  ISS is here to help.  Email your questions to and we will do our best to support you.

We hope you are enjoying a restful winter break and look forward to supporting you in 2021!

Best Regards,

Marielena Maggio, M.A.
Director, International Student Services, PDSO & ARO

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. Instead, please complete this survey by February 5.

Thank you for your attention and cooperation!

cwru covid 19 page

CWRU Launches a New COVID-19 Website

The health and safety of the campus community is the university's priority. 

Visit the website to learn about the policies, procedures, and guidance in place to prevent spread as well as access resources and communications.

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!

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!

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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

stormtrooper meme about getting a travel signature

Need a Fresh Travel Signature?

If you need a travel signature, don't panic! You can request a travel signature using our electronic form here.

Read more about what to do on our Travel and Reentry pages for F-1 and J-1 students.

don't forget written on post it notes

Grads: Waiver of Registration Information

If you are a graduate student planning to submit a Waiver of Registration , it is essential that you understand the impact of this decision on your visa status. The Waiver of Registration is an administrative process of the university, but does not fulfill federal regulations that stipulate a requirement to be properly registered at all times. Proper registration is required to maintain your visa status and if you are not properly registered, you need to take other steps to maintain your visa status.

Keep in mind:

  • By virtue of submitting a Waiver of Registration, ISS is obligated to shorten the length of your I-20 to reflect the Drop/Add deadline. Your legal status in the US actually becomes shorter because it is now based on this Drop/Add deadline rather than your future intended graduation date.
  • In order to maintain your visa status after submitting a Waiver of Registration, you must, in a timely manner, either apply for OPT or make arrangements to begin a new academic program.

OPT applications must be submitted within the 60 day grace period following the new Drop/Add deadline. Don't forget, it takes an average of 90-120 days for an OPT application to be processed. If you wait too long to apply, you're not likely going to be authorized for your full 12 months of OPT.

If you intend to begin another academic program, to maintain your current F-1 status (and SEVIS record), your new academic program must start within 5 months of the Drop/Add deadline. Any program beginning later than 5 months will result in you falling out of status.

If you do not intend to maintain your status either through OPT or continued education, you are required to leave the United States within 60 days of the Drop/Add deadline. Remaining in the US beyond the 60 day grace period can have extremely negative consequences such as fines and being barred from the US in the future.

Please get in touch with ISS if you have additional questions or concerns. We are here to help!

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
snow driving from

6 Tips for Winter Driving in Northeast Ohio

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Beware of Scams

ISS wants to make sure that international students are aware of scams and know how to protect themselves.  Visit our website for more information.
box of food clipart

Local Emergency Food Assistance

Emergency food assistance will be available for students in a pick-up and go format.

Food boxes for current undergraduate and graduate students will be provided by Church of the Covenant thanks in partnership with the UDC student organization UPCaM and the Office of Thwing Center Engagement and Operations. 

To arrange for a box of nonperishable food items or refer a student in need please contact Shelley Nelson-Bridger (  


h1b flyer

H-1B Visa Workshop for International Students

CWRU international students are invited to join the Center for International Affairs for a workshop about H-1B visas. Those who attend will learn about the process of obtaining an H-1B visa from a local immigration expert and networking opportunities from staff of Global Cleveland.

The workshop will take place on Wednesday, February 10 at 9:30 am ET on Zoom. Registration and details to join the Zoom can be found on the International Student Services’ CampusGroups page:
working in canada after graduation flyer

Opportunities to Work in Canada after Graduation

CWRU students are invited to learn about opportunities to live and work in Canada after graduation at an event hosted by the Center for International Affairs. The presentation will feature representatives from the immigration section of the Consulate General of Canada who will discuss options to work in Canada and the process to become a Canadian via the Express Entry program.

The event will be held Wednesday, February 10 at 4:00 pm via Zoom. All CWRU students are welcome to attend. To register for the event, visit the International Student Services (ISS) CampusGroups page:

Friday Forums Flyer- January 2021

January Study Abroad Friday Forums

CWRU students are encouraged to use their J-Term to start exploring study abroad opportunities for next year through virtual Study Abroad Friday Forums every week at 1 pm!

They start January 8 with a session on deciding where to go, and on January 15, students can discover resources for navigating their identity abroad.

January 22 will feature a conversation with the Case School of Engineering’s Peer Advisors about how they made their study abroad experiences happen and January 29 is all about the career benefits of studying abroad led by an alumni panel!

Students can find the link to join each Friday Forum on the Study Abroad CampusGroups page: And make sure to follow CWRUStudyAbroad on Facebook and Instagram so you don’t miss out on any events or student stories!

CLE Bucket List Flyer
tink in winter

Winter Programming and Information

Although much of the Case Western Reserve University student community will be finishing the semester remotely, the university will still be providing events, activities, support resources, dining options and some facility access to students who are staying on/nearby campus for all or part of the winter break.

Campus Happenings


CWRUinCLE Challenge - deadline 1/31

Monday, August 10, 2020 at 8:00am
to Sunday, January 31 at 11:55pm
Meeting link
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Stay connected with Cleveland and its many assets from wherever you are this Fall 2020 semester (and over winter break) through the Center for Civic Engagement & Learning's (CCEL) CWRUinCLE Challenge! This self-paced, everyone-wins competition allows you to choose your own adventure by completing and logging at least one unique virtual Cleveland activity within the categories of art, community, education, nature, and wellness chosen from a pre-selected list of remote activity options ( Students who complete at least one activity within each category between August 10, 2020 to January 31, 2021 will earn a virtual CWRUinCLE Challenge badge and receive a Dunkin' Donuts or Mitchell's gift card (while supplies last).

Complete this CampusGroups form ( by 11:59 p.m. EST on January 31, 2021 after you have finished at least one unique activity in each of the categories. Contact with questions.

Stay connected to your community and discover CLE in a whole new way!

*Event photo was taken prior to the pandemic and the resulting social distancing/mask mandates.

Spoken English Seminars
Spoken English Seminars
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. 5, 8:30 a.m.

  • Thursday, Feb. 11, 4 p.m.

  • 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.



Spring Student Activities Fair 2021- Leadership: A Whole New World

Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 11:00am
to Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 11:00pm
Spring Student Activities Fair- Virtual Fair, TVUC 148, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, United States
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Pack your bags to explore the world of leadership at the Spring Student Activities Fair! Start your journey in one of our various clubs and activities that you can get involved with this semester and during the rest of your time at CWRU. Join in virtually from wherever you are!

moving forward flyer
getting unstuck flyer
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koru mindfulness flyer
BIPOC flyer
veale registration flyer
nominate clip art

Nominate Faculty for Awards Recognizing Excellence in Mentoring and Teaching

Nominations are being accepted for the J. Bruce Jackson, MD, Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring and the Carl F. Wittke Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

The Jackson award is given to faculty or staff members who have fostered professional development, facilitated goals and life choices, and made a significant impact on a student’s life. The Wittke award is given to outstanding classroom teachers who are engaging, invested and stimulate enthusiasm for their area of study.

To nominate a faculty or staff member for one of the awards, complete the nomination form.

Nominations are due Feb. 15, 2021.

To learn more about these awards, please visit the Undergraduate Studies website or email

Other Opportunities

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 February 19, March 5, and April 9, 2021 events!

Cleveland Metroparks Trail Challenge logo

Cleveland Metroparks Trail Challenge 2021

Welcome to the 2021 Trail Challenge, a guest led program where you discover new trails throughout Cleveland Metroparks on your own, move to better health, discover the wonders of nature, and earn awards along the way! 

2021 Pitch Contest 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!

The Cats' Edition

the world according to cats
why do cats act so weird?