Carnegie Mellon University

Dependent and Family Information

The following is intended to help family members and dependents of foreign students and scholars acclimate to life in the U.S. and Pittsburgh. For questions about resources or information found on this website or other concerns regarding family members, please speak with an OIE advisor

Carnegie Mellon's Sponsored ID Card allows spouses and partners to access various services, programs and buildings on campus. To obtain this card for a spouse or partner, a student must be enrolled for the current academic year in a full-time graduate degree program; scholars must be paid by the university and receive benefits. The Sponsored ID Card is not available to family members of scholars who do not receive benefits through Carnegie Mellon. The card is valid for one year.

Social Security Number for Spouses

Individuals in F-2, J-2 or H-4 status are not eligible for Social Security Numbers (SSNs) in most cases. Only J-2s who have applied for and been granted work authorization are eligible to apply for a SSN. 

Spouse Driver’s License or Pennsylvania State Identification (ID)

F-2, J-2, and H-4 visa holders are eligible to apply for a driver’s license or Pennsylvania state ID even without a Social Security Number, as long as there is one year or more remaining on the non-immigrant document. A dependent should visit the Social Security Administration (with original immigration documents) to apply for an SSN. The application will be reviewed and denied resulting in an SSN denial letter, and dependents must take the denial letter when they apply for the driver’s license or state ID. Refer to OIE's driver's license and state identification handout (pdf) for more information.

CMU must report email addresses for each J-2 dependent in SEVIS. Additionally, CMU must report if a J-2 spouse/dependent final departure from the US takes place prior to the J-1’s final departure from the US. Please report this information for each J-2 dependent by emailing
Dependents in J-2 status may obtain employment authorization and legally work in the US. Employment authorization must be obtained prior to beginning employment. View application information and instructionsDependents in F-2, H-4 or TD status may not legally work in the US.
Information about other organizations in Pittsburgh that offer language training is available on the Student Academic Success Center (SASC) website or on Global Pittsburgh. The ICC only offers language training to all non-native English speaking Carnegie Mellon students. Information about free ESL programs may also be found online at Literacy Pittsburgh

Organizations for Spouses & Partners

Many spouses and partners become involved in the Carnegie Mellon International Spouses and Partners Gathering (ISPG) and the International Women’s Association of Pittsburgh (IWAP). ISPG provides opportunities for spouses and partners from different cultural backgrounds to share their cultures, enjoy social activities, and make friends. IWAP offers English conversation classes, international cooking, crafts, and programs about world customs and culture. Visit their website for more information.

Volunteer Opportunities

There are many opportunities to participate in volunteer work:


There are two excellent daycare/pre-school facilities on Carnegie Mellon's campus:

The Cyert Center has limited space and is not readily accessible to the children of students.


In Pittsburgh, children are assigned to schools according to their home address. For information about how to enroll your child in public school, call the Pittsburgh Public Schools at 412-622-7920. Information is also available on their website. To inquire about Magnet Schools (schools with special educational foci such as German language, international studies, performing arts, science and technology, etc.), call the Parent Hotline at 412-622-7920. For information about the ESL program, consult the Pittsburgh Public Schools website.

To enroll your child, you must provide specific documentation:

  • proof of your identity and current visa status for you and your child, i.e., passport (and that of the child), immigration documents, and a birth certificate for the child
  • immunization records, which have been officially translated (including dates)
  • official translated transcripts if you wish your child to attend a grade level higher than which is considered normal for his/her age in the US
  • the US Social Security Number of at least one parent
  • proof of residence in the City of Pittsburgh by providing two documents which show a current Pittsburgh address, (any two of the following: driver's license, utility bill, tax statement, copy of a lease)

To view a formal evaluation of individual public schools, visit the website of the Pennsylvania Department of Education Academic Achievement Report.


There are also private schools for K-12 students. Some are affiliated with a religious organization and some are not. Private school tuition can range up to $15,000 (or more) per year; however, some scholarships may be available. Inquire at the admission office at each school. View the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools website for more information.

Student Government Partner & Family Resources

The Graduate Student Assembly (GSA), the branch of student government representing graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University, has created a Facebook group for students with partners and families. There is also a GSA Partner & Family Advocate, and an email distribution list for updates. More information can be found on their resource page under 'How can I connect with other CMU graduate students who have partners & families?'.