International Student Resources
Where can I find help with my visa?
OIE has many resources available to assist in understanding your visa and what you are able to do/not do with it. Find information HERE.
Can I enroll as a part-time student and keep my visa?
Students with F-1 or J-1 visas are required to be registered full-time. Students requesting a reduced course load should consult with an OIE advisor ahead of time. The official request form for reduced course load can be found HERE. General guidelines for maintaining legal status can be found HERE.
Are fellowships available for international students to help funding my graduate degree?
Select fellowships are available through the Office of the Vice Provost for International Programs and Strategy for international students from India or China. Check them out HERE. While you may be eligible as an international student for other fellowships, there is not a central source of information at CMU.
I was told to get a language assessment so I could work as a TA. Where do I find information about that?
The International Communication Center (ICC) offers language assessments and training to international graduate students so they can work as a Teaching Assistant for certain programs. Get more information HERE.
I am not a native English speaker and sometimes get confused by the US academic culture. Are there any resources to help me adjust?
The ICC is a fantastic resource. They offer language training in many different forms from individual sessions to group workshops (get info HERE).
Are there opportunities for me to connect with a host-family to connect with more people in the US?
Through the Office of the Vice Provost for International Programs and Strategy a Host Family program is offered. Find more information and how to register HERE. It is a great opportunity to make friends with a local host in Pittsburgh.
I had an interaction with a campus official where I was treated poorly because of my race/nationality. Should I report it and where? Can I report anonymously?
Basic Needs (Health, Housing, Finances)
How do I get a social security number in Pittsburgh?
Instructions on getting a social security number are given HERE.
Do I need to carry passport and I-20 whenever I am outside of CMU campus? What are other forms of identification which I can explore?
International students are advised to obtain a government issued form of identification such as driving license or a state ID. More information on how to obtain a driving license or state ID is given HERE. Additionally, it would be advisable to have a digital copies of passport and I-20 on your phone or on a secure cloud service to access if information is needed from either. (Special note: the legal drinking age in the US is 21 and everyone is required to show valid ID in order to drink/purchase alcohol. Forms of valid ID include passports, US driver's licenses and state IDs. Digital copies and international driver's licenses are not accepted.)
I got a call/email from the IRS/FBI/City Police/etc saying I need to bring them money. Is there anyway to verify this?
Always feel free to contact the CMU PD for help. Normally, when one of these agencies need to get ahold of student, they work through CMU and thus you would be contacted by someone from Student Affairs or the CMU Police Department. However, the CMU Police can help put you in contact with the correct people to verify the instruction in the email/call and provide assistance. Call them at (412)268-2323 or email HERE
Can you help me figure out the American healthcare system?
Unlike healthcare systems in other countries, the US operates on a system utilizing health insurance to help cover a significant proportion of their medical expenses involved in treatment. However, there is small amount called a 'co-pay' (or 'copayment') which is charged directly to patients utilizing healthcare services at UHS or at local healthcare providers. As a CMU student, you are required to have health insurance, though this may also be a stipulation of your visa. Many different CMU offices have information about American healthcare and insurance plans. OIE has information HERE. UHS has information on the CMU Student Health Insurance Plan HERE. GSA also has an abridged explanation of health insurance targeted to grad students found HERE under "Health Care" with a list of copay values for various types of treatments.
How do you get a doctor's appointment in the US healthcare system?
When making an appointment, you should consider how urgent it is to be seen immediately verses in a couple of days (to weeks). If utilizing UHS, log into HealthConnect (see HERE) and use their scheduling tool to see available appointment dates. You can also walk in directly to their office and see if immediate appointments are available as they maintain some time slots everyday for walk-ins. For most off-campus doctors, you will need to call their office ahead of time to make an appointment, however many hospital chains (such as UPMC and Alleghency Health Network) maintain walk-in slots in their schedules everyday. Check online to see if the location you wish to go offers that service and be sure to call in early as same-day appointment slots fill up fast. Another option to be seen on the same day is to utilize Urgent Care locations. Urgent Care locations operate much like the "emergency room" in non-US countries with walk-in appointments for non-life threatening medical conditions (cold/flu, sprained muscles, etc).
I am feeling really stressed by being at CMU and am considering counseling. Are there options that support international students specifically?
CaPS is a free on-campus counseling center for the university community. Like all mental health professionals, they maintain confidentiality (meaning CMU will not be informed about your attendance or what is discussed when you go). The licensed therapists are sensitive to pressures international students face while studying at CMU. They also host support groups where you can connect with your peers and discuss issues. Find information on all of CaPS services HERE. Additionally, if you find that CaPS does not suit your needs, the CaPS team can assist in finding a licensed professional in the area who can help you out and is covered by the student health care insurance plan.
Do I need to get a US driver's license? How to I get one?
Depending on your visa status, you may need to get a Pennsylvania Driver's License to be able to drive in the USA. OIE has information HERE under "Pennsylvania Driver's License" about visa requirements and what you need to do to get a license.
Is there anything to help me figure out the American tax system?
OIE offers tax software to assist international students navigate the American tax system. They will send out information via email early in the spring semester ahead of the April 15th tax due date. General information can be found on their website HERE.
I am currently working as a graduate research assistant at CMU. Before moving to CMU, I was a research assistant and attending university in the US. Do I need to file state and federal tax returns in both states?
While the federal tax returns can be sent together, you will need to file state taxes at both schools separately. You will have to reach out to your previous university attended to get a copy of W-9 for previous school along with a copy of W-9 from CMU. Then you will have to mail the state taxes separately to respective state tax offices.
Is there somewhere where I can get general legal advice?
CMU provides free legal consultations to students. Find more info and sign up HERE. This is not the same as hiring a lawyer to work on a case for you, but it can help you navigate the US law system if you have an issue and you are not sure how to legally deal with it.
Do you have advice for finding a good apartment in Pittsburgh? I have to sign a lease without being in the US so I have somewhere to move into when I arrive?
Be sure to do your research before you sign a lease. The CMU Housing Office has a good list of resources to help you learn about tenant/landlord relations in the US (find it HERE). You can also reach out to existing CMU students (either in your department or through a cultural organization) to ask for their opinions. OIE also has a guide to housing in Pittsburgh, found HERE. A general comment about finding an apartment though, Pittsburgh weather can get a bit crazy (summers are hot, ~35C, and humid with frequent thunder storms while winters are often below 0C and snowy/icey), so look at how you will commute from your apartment to campus and assess how well that will work in different weather conditions.
I am having issues with my landlord, is there anyone I can ask to help figure out my legal options?
If you need general information on off campus housing and your legal rights, check out the resources offered HERE by the CMU Housing Office, especially the documents under "Things to Consider" and "Tenant's Right's" under "Legal Resources." If you still have questions, you can sign up for a free legal consultation HERE. They can advise you on steps you should take to resolve the issue.
Am I eligible for the job fairs on campus? Is there a service available to help me find a job?
Yes. Intenational students are eligible to attend career fairs held on CMU's campus. CPDC can help you prepare for these events (info HERE) by reviewing resumes/cover letters and coaching you for interviews. Be sure to know your visa status before you go to a career fair because that will govern the type of roles and your eligibility. Find more info on visas and employment through OIE, HERE.
Am I eligible for work-study? Are there options for me to make money while at CMU?
Work-study and other forms of employment/internship in the USA are dependent on your visa status. Information can be found HERE. Once you know your eligibility, you can check out CMU's online job search tool Handshake (HERE) to look at job options promoted within the CMU community.
Can I get help with my CPT/OPT application?
OIE offers guidance with regards to CPT and OPT. For more information and the necessary forms for either Training program, see HERE.
How do I get a job in the USA after graduation?
To get a job in the USA after graduation, it is important to stay within the legal requirements. If you seek practical training (OPT/CPT) you will need to file the appropriate paperwork before your visa expires (approval must arrive before you must leave the country so be sure to file 3-4 months before your program ends). For other types of employment in the USA after graduation, you would need to apply for a different immigration status. More information and next steps for any of these employment paths can be found HERE. Be sure to contact OIE around the time you are starting your last semester to ensure all paperwork can be submitted in time.