Banking and Legal Services

Get Set Up for Success

Being a student is an exciting time—but there are important matters to which you need to attend.

Finances and Banking

Establish a bank account as soon as possible after your arrival in the United States. It is not wise to carry or keep large amounts of cash. To open a bank account, go to the "New Accounts" or "Customer Service" desk at a local bank; there are many to choose from in the area. A bank officer will explain the benefits of each type of account, costs and services, and can help you open the best account for your needs. Be sure to ask what minimum amount must be kept on deposit in order to be exempt from monthly service fees.

It is a good idea to check with several banks to determine which offers the services you need at the best price. You may want to talk to some of the current international students before choosing a bank.

CWRU and PNC Bank have partnered to allow students to set up their CWRU ID as their bank debit card. Find out more.

However there are numerous banks around town where CWRU students can open a checking account or take advantage of savings accounts, credit cards, and ATMs, including:

Money matters. Learn how to manage your finances now so that you’re not overwhelmed in the future.


The staff members in International Student Services are very knowledgeable about immigration regulations related to student visa status, but we are not legal experts.

There are some immigration questions and circumstances that are outside our scope of knowledge—H-1B and permanent residency petitions, for example—and, in such a situation, we will advise students to contact an immigration attorney. There are several reputable immigration attorneys in the Cleveland area and ISS is happy to provide referrals upon request.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is also a very reputable source if you prefer to seek counsel on your own.


We hope you never need to contact an attorney because you’ve committed a crime; however, if you do, it’s very important that you seek legal counsel.

There are no legal services available to students through CWRU, and legal counsel is generally expensive in the United States. Because you’re a non-citizen, it may be necessary to hire more than one attorney to ensure that you’re receiving expertise in both criminal and immigration matters. Legal action could have serious implications for your visa status and legal presence in the U.S., which a traditional criminal attorney might not realize.

A good, inexpensive place to start seeking legal assistance is through the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland represents clients in court and in administrative hearings as well as provides advice and brief assistance, very often for free. Legal Aid handles cases that impact basic needs, such as: health, shelter and safety; economics and education; and access to justice. Legal Aid’s attorneys practice in the areas of:

  • consumer rights,
  • domestic violence,
  • education,
  • employment,
  • family law,
  • health,
  • housing,
  • foreclosure,
  • immigration,
  • public benefits,
  • utilities and
  • tax.

The Cuyahoga County Public Defender’s Office also provides legal services to lower-income adults and juveniles charged with violations of the criminal code. Cases are assigned to the public defender office by the judges of the Court of Common Pleas.