Carnegie Mellon University

Arrival Checklist

Once you’ve arrived on campus, use this checklist of things to do in your first few days:

  • Attend International Undergraduate Orientation
  • Complete mandatory immigration check-in (This should be completed during orientation)
  • Bring all original immigration documents (I-20/DS-2019, passport, and visa)
    • You will also need to bring:
      • Copies of your passport, visa, visa entry stamp, and I-94 record
      • Completed Student Data Form (.pdf)
        • If you arrive after International Orientation, you MUST complete a 1.5-hour mini-orientation in the Office of International Education. Call 412-268-5231 to sign up.
  • Immigration check-in must be completed by the end of the first week of classes or you will lose your legal nonimmigrant status in the U.S.!
  • Complete course registration procedures. This is usually done before you arrive or at First Year Orientation. Check with your academic department.
  • Get your student ID card on Move-In Day.
  • Open a bank account. When you attend international student orientation you will receive detailed information on the many full-service banks close to campus. In the meantime, check out the following websites:
  • When considering banking options take into consideration services and fees associated with checking and savings accounts, interest rates, Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) access, credit and debit card availability, as well as telephone and web banking.
  • Purchase health insurance. Health insurance is required by the University and is a necessity in the US because the cost of routine and emergency health care is extremely expensive. For more information about Carnegie Mellon Health Services or health insurance please check with Health Services.
  • Apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) if you will be employed on campus. A Social Security Number is a number used for tax purposes that are required for employment in the US. You must have an offer of employment to be eligible to apply for an SSN. You must apply in person for a permanent Social Security Number at a Social Security Office. Take your passport, I-20 or DS-2019, I-94 record, and the signed OIE Social Security Number Form (.pdf). You will also need to provide an address where your new card can be sent. The Social Security Administration recommends that international applicants wait at least 10 (business) days after check-in with OIE (orientation) before submitting an application for an SSN. 
  • Secure transitional housing (if necessary).
  • Report to your academic department and complete registration procedures. Your department may have other tasks for you and should also be able to give you your student ID number and email user ID, if ready.
  • Get your student ID card at the Hub on the ground floor of Warner Hall or from your academic department. You will need your student ID number to do this. If you do not know it, your department will be able to provide this information. If you are enrolled for the current semester, your ID should have a small picture of a bus allowing you to ride the public transportation free.
  • Attend Graduate Student Orientation. You will receive essential information and assistance in getting settled. Orientation is a rare opportunity to meet students from across campus and around the world. It’s also an opportunity to meet staff from a variety of Carnegie Mellon offices.
  • Complete mandatory immigration check-in. This should be completed during orientation. Please bring your immigration documents (I-20/DS-2019, passport and I-94 card). If you arrive after the main orientation program, you MUST complete a 1.5-hour mini-orientation in the Office of International Education. Call 412-268-5231 to sign up.
  • Immigration check-in must be completed by the end of the first week of classes or you will lose your legal nonimmigrant status in the U.S.!
  • Find off-campus housing. Review the information here and with the Carnegie Mellon Community Housing Office on finding off-campus housing that meets your specific needs and preferences. If you arrive early, be sure to visit the Community Housing Office on the first floor of Morewood Gardens E-Tower, tel: (412) 268-4990.
  • Open a bank account. When you attend international student orientation you will receive detailed information on the many full-service banks close to campus. In the meantime, check out the following websites:
  • Take into consideration services and fees associated with checking and savings accounts, interest rates, wire transfer fees, ATM machine access, credit and debit card availability, as well as telephone and web banking. You may not want to open an account until you have secured housing as proximity to your residence is also an important consideration.
  • Buy health insurance for yourself and dependents, if you do not already have it. Health insurance is required by the university and is a necessity in the U.S. because the cost of routine and emergency health care is extremely expensive. For more information visit the Health Services website.
  • Apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) (.pdf) if you will be employed on campus. A Social Security Number is a type of national identification number that is required for employment in the US. You must have an offer of employment to be eligible to apply for an SSN. You must apply in person for a permanent Social Security Number at a Social Security Office. Take your passport, I-20 or DS-2019, I-94 record, and the signed OIE Social Security Number Form (.pdf). You will also need to provide an address where your new card can be sent. You will also need to provide an address where your new card can be sent. The Social Security Administration recommends that international applicants wait at least 10 (business) days after check-in with OIE (orientation) before submitting an application for an SSN.

Secure temporary housing.

Report to your academic department.

Your department should be able to provide you with information about your email account, office and/or lab space, office telephone, computer facilities, and CMU ID card.

Attend OIE's Scholar Orientation.

The Office of International Education (OIE) located on the 3rd floor of Warner Hall hosts an orientation and immigration check-in for new scholars every Thursday from 1:00pm - 2:30pm. Within the first week of your arrival, call the OIE receptionist at 412-268-5231 to make an appointment for this orientation. This is a required meeting.

Complete Immigration Check In.

This will be completed during the scholar orientation. Bring all original documents (passport, visa, DS-2019), as well as copies of your passport, your visa, and your I-94 record. You will also need the Scholar Data Form (.pdf) and the Health Insurance Agreement (.pdf).

This check-in is required; failure to check-in will result in the loss of your legal status.

Get your affiliate or staff identification card (ID) at the Hub.

If you will be paid by CMU, you can obtain an ID card 3-4 days after your department has entered your information into the Human Resources system. If you will not be paid by CMU, your department will give you a form (Affiliate Card Request) to take to the Hub for you to obtain an ID. The Hub is located in the basement of Warner Hall. You must have photo identification (passport is acceptable) with you when you apply for your ID card. Staff receiving benefits will receive a Carnegie Mellon ID+ card with a white bus icon on the card that allows you to ride Pittsburgh public transportation free of charge. Scholars who are not benefits eligible will receive a Carnegie Mellon Affiliate ID card which does not allow for the free bus pass benefit.

Locate off-campus housing.

CMU's Community Housing Office can provide general tips as well as specific information on available apartments and houses for rent. You can also stop by the office on the first floor of Morewood Gardens E-Tower or call them at: (412) 268-2139.

Open a bank account.

Take into consideration services and fees associated with checking and savings accounts, interest rates, ATM machine access, credit and debit card availability, as well as telephone and web banking. You may want to open an account after you find housing so that you can choose a bank located conveniently near to your apartment or house.

Purchase health insurance for yourself and dependents, if you do not already have it.

Health insurance is a necessity in the US because the cost of routine and emergency health care is extremely expensive. J visa holders are required by US federal law to have health insurance. More information about health insurance can be found at University Health Services or at Human Resources for those with CMU benefits.

Apply for a Social Security Number (SSN).

Scholars find it convenient to apply for a permanent SSN when they arrive in Pittsburgh. You will be asked for the SSN at the bank, by your landlord, CMU payroll office, etc. It's the closest thing that Americans have to a national identification number although you are not required to have one unless you will be paid in the US. Apply at a nearby Social Security Administration (SSA) office at least 10 days after you have entered the US (and after you have attended scholar orientation at OIE). It takes approximately 10 days for your entry to the US to be recorded in the immigration database that the SSA must check before they can assign a number to you. You must take your passport, DS-2019, I-94 card (found in your passport) and the SSN application (SS-5). Further information can be found by clicking here.

Go to CMU's Payroll Office.

If you will be paid by CMU, visit the CMU Payroll Office (4516 Henry Street) between 9:30 am and 3:30 pm. Helpful documentation to bring with you includes your passport, DS-2019 and I-94 as well as your Social Security Number or Social Security card. Unless you claim a tax treaty based on the specific treaty between your home country and the US, US federal taxes will be withheld from your paycheck. You will also pay state and local income taxes.