From: International Student Services
Date: September 2, 2020
Subject: ISS News, September 2, 2020: Welcome [Back] Parties, SEVP's Fall 2020 Guidance, Registration Reminder, USCIS Fees Increase Effective October 2, CLE Bucket List, Virtual Fairs, Good Vibes, & More!


September 2, 2020


in this issue:

  1. SEVP's Fall Guidance- What You Need to Know!
  2. Check In with ISS
  3. GRADS: Waiver of Registration Information
  4. BMV Reopens
  5. Applying for the SSN While Social Security Office are Closed
  6. Features
  7. Campus Happenings
  8. Other Opportunities
  9. Good Vibes Only
  10. Graduating at the End of the Semester? Think About OPT
  11. Working as an international Student
  12. Registration & Your Visa Status
  13. USCIS Fee Increases Effective October 2, 2020
  14. ISS Staff is Working on Campus in a Limited Capacity


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.

adelbert Hall in Fall

ISS Staff is Working on Campus in a Limited Capacity

Staff in the Center for International Affairs are looking forward to seeing new and returning students on campus this Fall! International Student Services understands that campus life will certainly be different from students’ typical experiences and I write to you today to tell you about the adjustments ISS has made to office procedures. These changes, approved by the university’s Office of Resiliency, allow staff to remain available to serve students while prioritizing the health and safety of the campus community.

Staff returned to the office in a limited capacity on August 24 and is available for:

  • virtual advising hours through our chat box on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 11am to 3pm.

    Virtual advising is the best option for quick questions.

  • virtual appointments, Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 5pm.

    Email to request an appointment and provide your full, legal name and a brief description of the nature of your appointment.

    Please note, we generally require 24 hours’ notice and do not schedule same-day appointments due to the volume of requests that we receive.

  • in-person appointments for picking up or dropping off documents only on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, 10am to 3pm.

    ISS expects students with appointments for picking up or dropping off documents to arrive at the office promptly. Staff members will be masked and students must be as well; staff will not meet with students who are not properly wearing masks and abiding by safety precautions. Upon arriving, students should call 216.368.2517 to check in. A staff member will meet with them in the lobby to exchange documents.

    Students who are picking up documents will receive specific instructions when their documents are ready for pick-up and can schedule their appointments here.

    Students who are dropping off documents will need to contact ISS at and make specific arrangements. There may be certain exceptions that do not require emailing to make specific arrangements, and in those instances, instructions about how to drop off documents will be included in an existing request process. Unless otherwise noted, students should not expect same-day service for processing documents that they are dropping off at the office.

    Appointments will be managed by all members in the Center for International Affairs so students should not expect to meet with an ISS staff member who can answer specific questions. Students are welcome to use the virtual chat during advising hours, email, or set up a virtual appointment to further discuss their situations with ISS staff.

For students’ convenience, ISS:

  • will offer the option of electronic I-20s whenever a new one needs to be issued to you. After it is created, this I-20 will be immediately available and accessible anywhere, anytime through your Terra Dotta ( account. Students will still have the option to request a physical document to receive through either FedEx or a pick-up/drop-off appointment if they would prefer that. Please remember that these appointments are not for advising purposes.

    At this time, the Department of State has not authorized the issuance of electronic DS-2019s.

  • has standardized requests for employment verification through Terra Dotta.

  • is developing virtual OPT and CPT workshops hosted by ISS advisors. More information will be available later in the semester. Online workshops will continue to be an option and information about OPT and CPT is always available on our website.

add drop post it note reminder

Registration & Your Visa Status

As the university's deadline for the drop/add period approaches (it's this Friday!), ISS just wants to remind you that, as international students, you are required to be properly registered for a full-time course load while you're studying here at CWRU. This is mandatory by US Federal Regulations. There are very few exceptions to this rule and only ISS can determine whether or not you qualify for an exception. Never register for less than full-time or drop below a full-time courseload without first speaking with an advisor in ISS. This could have serious consequences, including termination, for your visa status.

We will be verifying each student's registration over the next several weeks. If we detect a problem with your registration or have questions, we will be contacting you by email. It's extremely important that you follow up with us promptly and work to quickly resolve the matter so that your visa status is not negatively impacted.

If you have questions, never hesitate to contact our office at or get in touch during advising hours!

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.

student working in lab

Working as an International Student

Found a job on campus? Thinking about gaining experience off-campus? Wondering what to do now? ISS is here to help!

ISS wants to remind all international students that you must be properly authorized to work by our office before you begin any kind of work.  NEVER WORK until you’ve finalized all processes with ISS.

It is very important that you follow all steps as described and do so in a timely manner. Failure to complete the required paperwork can result in you not being paid for work you've done, loss of work permission privileges, or even the termination of your visa status!

You will find a lot of helpful information about working on our website.

 And please remember, only ISS can advise you about employment and the impact it can have on your immigration status.

don't forget written on post it notes

GRADS: Waiver of Registration Information

If you are a graduate student submitting a Waiver of Registration for this semester, 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!

OPT Workshop Sign Up text

Graduating at the End of the Semester?

Being well informed about OPT before you apply is a must. ISS feels very strongly about this, which is why we require all students to complete a workshop. ISS will be offering Optional Practical Training (OPT) Workshops to go over in detail the application process, student responsibilities, and other considerations.

Completing a workshop during the semester that you intend to apply for OPT is required as part of the application process. You do not need to have a job offer or any definitive employment plans to complete a workshop or apply for OPT!

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

If you have questions, get in touch during advising hours. Remember, only ISS staff can advise you about the procedures for OPT!

uscis logo

USCIS Fee Increases

Effective October 2, 2020

USCIS published a final rule on August 3, 2020, which will go into effect on October 2, 2020.  Any petition postmarked on or after October 2, 2020 must include the fees as listed in this new rule.

OPT and STEM OPT petitions (Form I-765) will increase in cost from $410 to $550.  If you do not submit the appropriate fee at the time you apply, your application will not be processed and you will experience delays in receiving your authorization.  Please plan to apply early to avoid the fee increase and so that you receive your authorization sooner rather than later.

Several other petitions are being affected by this rule and more complete information can be found in Table 1 of the Federal Register.

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.



Welcome [Back] Party for International Students Living on Campus

Thursday, September 3
4:00pm - 5:00pm
Video Conferencing Link
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Join the Center for International Affairs for our virtual Welcome [Back] Party and connect with other international students living on campus this year! We know this year presents many challenges when it comes to adjusting to campus life and meeting new people, so the party will feature an opportunity to ask questions about student life on campus from other CWRU students!



Welcome [Back] Party for International Students Learning Remotely

Thursday, September 3
8:00pm - 9:00pm
Video Conferencing Link
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Join the Center for International Affairs for our virtual Welcome [Back] Party and connect with other international students learning remotely this semester! We know this year presents many challenges when it comes to meeting other students, so the party will feature an opportunity to ask questions about student life and learning remotely from other CWRU students!

CLE Bucket List Flyer

Connect with Study Abroad During September Friday Forums

Students can learn more about studying abroad with CWRU every week in September with Study Abroad Friday Forums!

The forums are hosted by the Office of Education Abroad every Friday at 1 pm and showcase the types of experiences students can have when they participate in a study abroad program and how to make study abroad more accessible to them.

September's Friday Forums start with why and how pre-med students can study abroad, move to an information session on the three North Star Experiences study abroad is offering, continue by exploring the world with a session on Korea and end with a celebration of Hispanic Heritage month via a student panel presentation.


Friday Forums - Every Friday, 1pm EST

Friday, April 24 at 1:00pm
to Friday, December 4 at 1:30pm
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Every Friday at 1pm we will host an online forum about a different study abroad hot topic. Check back for topic updates! These will include but are not limited to: finding courses, programs and scholarships; specifics for diverse, LGBTQ and high financial need students; options for pre-med, research, business and engineering students; and journeys to popular world regions!

scholarship flyer for study abroad

Study Abroad Scholarships Available for 2021 Programs!

The Office of Education Abroad is accepting applications for Spring 2021, Summer 2021 and Fall 2021 study abroad programs - and has scholarships available for those terms!

Students are encouraged to get a jump on their plans to become successful in a global marketplace by planning for an affordable study abroad experience now!

Applications for Spring 2021 study abroad programs are due September 15 and scholarship applications for Spring 2021 are due October 1.

You can find more information here.

Campus Happenings

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.

entrepreneur well-being circle logo

Calling all founders and entrepreneurs who want to be well while doing well!

Being an entrepreneur can be hard. Hard to sustain your motivation, hard to know if you are making the right decisions, and hard to have enough energy to get through your to-do list. And nobody understands that better than fellow entrepreneurs, working through the same challenges and uncertainty to build something inspired.
Join us for the first Entrepreneur Well-being Circle—a facilitated, individual and group coaching program for entrepreneurs— designed to enable you to achieve greater personal well-being, so you can be your best self both inside and outside of work.
In this 2-month-long virtual coaching program with fellow entrepreneurs, you will:
  • Create a big picture vision for your life and your business
  • Receive support from peers who understand your experience while trying out new behaviors
  • Discuss key issues such as imposter syndrome, authenticity, stress, emotional labor and burnout
  • Hear the latest research on self-management techniques for well-being, time and energy
  • Help other members of the entrepreneurial community by sharing your experience

The Entrepreneur Well-being Circle is supported by the Case Western Reserve University Veale Institute for Entrepreneurship and JumpStart.
Register here before September 4, 2020. Individual coaching begins in mid-September and the group starts in early October.
For more information, visit or email Mandy Varley at

selp ticket- promotional
selp ticket- promotional

Other Opportunities

InterCle Flyer
grit to great symposium logo

Spark 2020: Grit to Great!

Cleveland Leadership Center is hosting a half day virtual leadership symposium on Thursday, September 3, which will give students a chance to connect with other community members and leaders around Cleveland as they dive into topics around innovation and disruption. There is a student rate of only $25 to attend.

Check out the Spark 2020 website for details and registration.

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 "Is it Cake?" Edition...

pickle shaped cake explained by the New York Times

red croc made from cake

Can You Tell the Difference?