From: International Student Services
Date: September 9, 2020
Subject: ISS News, September 9, 2020: SEVP's Fall 2020 Guidance, Virtual Advising, Virtual Fairs, Reporting OPT Requirements & Unemployment, Good Vibes, & More!


September 9, 2020


in this issue:

  1. SEVP's Fall Guidance- What You Need to Know!
  2. Chat With ISS Staff During Advising Hours
  3. BMV Reopens
  4. Applying for the SSN While Social Security Office are Closed
  5. Features
  6. Campus Happenings
  7. Other Opportunities
  8. Good Vibes Only
  9. Check In with ISS
  10. CPT Information
  11. New Students, Look Around Your New Homes
  12. OPT & STEM OPT Students: SEVP is Looking at your Employment & Unemployment


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.

sevp logo

SEVP's Fall Guidance
What You Need to Know! 

All students should have received an email from ISS on July 28 with information about SEVP's guidance and how it relates to the Fall 2020 semester.  The email contained detailed information about how students are eligible to maintain status and what students can expect if maintaining status is not currently an option. This communication can be found in its entirety on our website along with other communications we have sent throughout the summer.

We know that you may have questions. We welcome you to send them to us at and we will do our best to provide you with answers. We will continue to monitor the guidance and communicate with you as needed throughout the semester!

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-2019If 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, and are either attending courses remotely from abroad or deferring your admission to a future semester, report your plans using this form. DO NOT check in using the instructions above.  

Once you submit the form, your information will be logged and an ISS advisor will work with you later in the Fall to ensure that steps are taken so that you can begin your studies on campus in the future. You do not need to take any other action besides submitting the form and replying to any follow-up emails we send to you later.

ISS will begin reaching out to students after we have completed mandatory reporting requirements for all students who arrive for Fall 2020.  This process will take several weeks to complete after classes begin on August 24.

magnifying glass and house picture

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.

opt wordle

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.

ISS has been notified that the "...Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is conducting a review of SEVIS records for OPT participants and is mailing notices directly to students who have not reported employer information and have exceeded 90 days of unemployment. The notice informs students of their lack of employer/employment information and provides an opportunity for them to update their records either through their DSO or directly through the SEVP Portal. If the student’s SEVIS record is not updated, SEVP will set the record to “terminated” to reflect the lack of employer information and the potential that the student may have violated their status either by failing to timely report OPT employment or by exceeding the permissible period of unemployment while on OPT."

By following the simple steps that ISS has provided, you will be taking the necessary steps to protect your visa status. 

This Way to CPT sign

CPT Information

Being well informed about CPT before you apply is a must. ISS feels very strongly about this, which is why we require all students to complete a workshop prior to applying for each CPT authorization. Workshops cover in detail the application process, student responsibilities, and other important considerations. ISS will not accept CPT applications from students who have not completed a workshop in a timely manner.

Online workshops are available all year for your convenience- simply access the presentation online and complete the assessment tool.  ISS is hoping to offer socially distanced workshops facilitated by a staff member.  When those plans are finalized, ISS will provide more information.

Please make every effort to complete a workshop as early as possible to prevent any processing delays.

Again, keep in mind that ISS will only accept complete applications from students who have completed a workshop (either in-person or online). Be sure to read all of the application information carefully and prepare everything that's required for processing. General information about CPT is also available on our website.

If you have questions, get in touch with ISS.

virtual advising chat box

Chat with ISS Staff Online During Advising Hours

Virtual Advising is available Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., EST.

If you have a question or concern that you need to address during that time frame, reach out to an advisor through the chat box. The chat box (it looks just like the picture) will be available on our website.

You can request an appointment 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!

bmv offices reopen
get in line online for BMV
ssa logo

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.


CLE Bucket List Flyer

Campus Happenings

career fair image

Upcoming Virtual Fairs

Business Career Fair

When | Friday, Sept. 11, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT

About | Co-hosted with the Weatherhead School of Management Career Management Team and Beta Alpha Psi, the CWRU professional accounting society, this fair will connect your organization with undergraduate students, graduate students, and alumni seeking internship, practicum, co-op, or full-time positions in accounting, finance, marketing and more.

Register for the Business Career Fair in Handshake.

Engineering, Technology and Science Career Fair

When | Friday, Sept. 25, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. EDT

About | This fair will connect your organization with undergraduate students, graduate students, and alumni seeking internship, practicum, co-op, or full-time positions in engineering, computer science, natural sciences and more.

Register for the Engineering, Technology and Science Career Fair in Handshake.

Culture, Community and Public Service Fair

When | Wednesday, Sept. 30, from 4 to 7 p.m. EDT

About | Co-hosted with the Center for Civic Engagement and Learning, this fair will connect your organization with undergraduate students, graduate students, and alumni seeking careers in social sciences, law/ government, public service, art and more. 

Register for the Culture, Community and Public Service Fair in Handshake.

Seminar in Culture flyer for Fall 2020
presidential power and immigration writeup

Other Opportunities

cleveland leadership center back to school bucket list 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!

phd student sitting at home in a space that looks like a professor's office

TAs- advice about how to make your home look like a professor's office :)