VISAPlease check the USA Visa website for information for applying VISAs from your country. Also, the following link from OIE is useful (http://www.studentaffairs.cmu.edu/oie/forstu/coming.cfm)
CMU AccountPlease set up your CMU student account. Follow the instructions at http://www.cmu.edu/computing/freshstart/account.html. You will probably receive a letter/email informing you to do so before you arrive in Pittsburgh.
Document HandlingWhile transiting to Pittsburgh, you may wish to keep all your important administration documents with you (and not in your check-in luggage). For example, the immigration department will ask for your I-20, SEVIS, etc. form (if you are an international student) at customs.
CMU Student CardUpon arrival in Pittsburgh and having settled in, you can proceed to the HUB (located in the basement of Warner Hall) to obtain your student card. A photograph of you will be taken and the card can be collected on the spot.
Office of International Education (OIE) Check-inImmigration check-in must be completed by the end of the first week of classes or you will lose your legal nonimmigrant status in the US. Upon arrival in Pittsburgh, make sure to do the OIE check-in during the graduate orientation. Bring your passport, I-94 and other immigration documents with you to for this process. If you arrive slightly earlier or later (before August 1st or after August 17th), it is highly recommended that you do the early check-in so that you can skip the long lines during orientation. To sign up for the Early Check-in, you can call the Office of International Education (OIE) at +1-412-268-5231. It will take about 1.5 hours. You should request for two letters when you sign up so that you can collect them when the early check-in is over (They take several days to be signed). The two letters enable you to apply for the Social Security Card Letter and a Driving License (if you do not have a local license).
Social Security Card
To apply for a social security number, you must obtain a letter of confirmation from the Office of International Education (OIE). After that, you can fill up the social security card application form (can also be obtained from OIE) and bring along your Passport, I-94 Card, DS-2019, OIE confirmation letter and the social security number application form to the nearest Pittsburgh Social Security Offices. The receptionist from the OIE often advises not to apply for your social security card until you have been in the United States for at least 2 weeks (This is to give time for your VISA/immigration data to be transferred over to local government offices such as the social security offices). Otherwise it may take 4 weeks or more for your social security card to be approved as they will need to do security checks on you (The usual time frame for applying for social security is 2 weeks after you have submitted your application).
- East Liberty, 6117 Penn Circle North, +1-412-361-6204, 9am-4pm (arrive at office no later than 3pm to process social security application).
- Take outbound 500 bus from fifth and Morewood. Get off at N. Highland and Penn Circle North. Walk 1 block East or
- 71C bus (board it at 5th Ave). Ask the bus driver to let you off in front of the Social Security office.
- Downtown 915 Penn Avenue (corner of 9th and Penn), +1-412-644-5812 9am-4pm
- Any 61 bus from Forbes and Morewood to downtown Pittsburgh. Get off at Wood. Walk 5 minutes or
- 500 bus from Oakland (Fifth and Craig) to downtown Pittsburgh. Get off at 6th and Wood and walk 4 minutes or
- Any 71 bus from Fifth and Morewood to downtown Pittsburgh. Get off at Stanwix Street. Walk 1 block.
Pennsylvania State Driver’s License
To apply for the Driver’s License, if an international student, you will need a letter from the Office of International Education (OIE). After that, you can fill up the Driver’s License Book /application form (can also be obtained from OIE) and proceed to the Local PA Driver’s License Centers. More information is available in the Driver’s License Book. Driver's license (http://www.dot.state.pa.us/)
- International students - please attend session during international orientation for more information
- When changing states within the US, you can obtain a PA license from PennDot, the closest location is 300 Liberty Ave in the State Office Building Downtown, find more information at http://www.dot3.state.pa.us/home/index.shtml.
- Transfer your vehicle registration - easiest to do by paying AAA- the American Automobile Association to perform the transaction. Go to AAA in East Liberty/Shadyside 5900 Baum Blvd (412-363-5100).
Stipend Pay-check Administration
Once you have your social security card number, please proceed to see the business manager in the biology department to settle your pay-check administration. Please bring along any immigration documents, etc.
Banking and Budgeting
Popular choices are PNC Bank, Citizen's Bank, National City Bank, all of which have ATMs on campus (UC) or immediately next to campus. Most students open a student checking account where there is no charge and you will receive a debit credit card (typically Visa, useful for purchasing items or paying bills online). Do note that you can be charged a fee if you withdraw money at an ATM not belonging to your bank, so being close to your bank's ATM is convenient. Check out where each bank has ATMs (both on campus and in your neighborhood) before opening up an account.
The bank will also give you a small starter set of personal checks which you can use to pay the rent, utility bills, car insurance bills and similar. To get more checks, you will need to order them from the bank. There may be a fee, such as USD$20, if you order directly from the bank. However, some banks such as PNC have online banking where you can order checks for free online.
Bear in mind that it might take a couple of days for the bank to setup your new account, and some account features might not be functioning properly during this time or your bank draft needs about 2 weeks to clear. Thus, it is important that you bring some cash with you. Also please note that you will be paid your first stipend at the end of September so please budget accordingly.