International Postdocs

Office of Visa & Immigration Services & Advisors (VISA)

The Visa & Immigration Services & Advisors (VISA) is the university's liaison with the federal agencies that are concerned with visa-related matters. The Office of Immigration and Human Resource Services facilitates immigrant/permanent resident status, is responsible for employment eligibility verification (I-9), W-4 tax status confirmation, and determines whether or not to file tax treaty exemption forms with the Internal Revenue Service.

Setting up a Bank Account

** NEW INTERNATIONAL POSTDOCS: There could be delays with receiving your SSN which will delay your first paycheck (you cannot receive a paycheck form CWRU until your SSN has been issued). Please take this into account and have 1-3 months pay saved up as a buffer.

Find instructions to set up your Direct Deposit in HCM.

Setting up a bank account and receiving a debit card by mail can take time (sometimes a couple of weeks). One needs to have extra cash in hand or have an international credit card. The Postdoc Office recommends having funds to cover your first two months in the USA available, if possible. 

As an international postdoc, you need to apply in person for a bank account and you will need to provide the following information:

  • Name
  • Local (U.S.) Address - If you do not yet have a local address, you can still open a bank account, but you need to visit your branch or update your address information online as soon as you have a permanent U.S. address.
  • Home Country Address
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address
  • Primary Form of ID / Original Passport
  • Secondary Form of ID - This form of ID includes your photo, the issuing country, the ID number, and both the issue and the expiration dates: such as
    • Non-U.S. driver's license from the following countries: Canada, China, Guam, India, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Taiwan, the U.K. and the U.S. Virgin Islands
    • CWRU ID can also be used

Some major banking options in this area include Chase, PNC, Key Bank, and Huntington. 

Social Security Number (SSN)

Social Security Administration (SSA):

* Please note that you cannot receive a paycheck until you receive your Social Security Number and bring it to Human Resources. While SSN processing is typically only 2-3 weeks, your first paycheck could be delayed - please plan and budget accordingly.

Nine-digit Social Security number is your first and continuous connection with Social Security. It is used to identify and accurately record your covered wages or self-employment earnings. Application for the Social Security Card can be done only through appointment (see list of offices below). It can take 14 days to receive the Social Security card from the date of application. If one doesn't have a permanent local address during the application, one should provide the address of someone they trust.

You should keep your Social Security card in a safe place with your other important papers and avoid giving it out unnecessarily (not in your wallet). A dishonest person who has your Social Security number can use it to get other personal information about you. Identity thieves can use your number and your good credit to apply for more credit in your name. You should be careful about sharing your number, even when you're asked for it. The Postdoc Office does not need your Social Security Number. 

Keep in mind that in many cases, even if you lost your card, you may not need a replacement. In most cases, simply knowing your Social Security number is enough.

Required documents: Passport, DS2019, I94, US address proof (lease document)

Social Security Administration (SSA) Office Addresses:

  • 3401 Tuttle Rd, Shaker Heights, OH 44122
  • 11601 Shaker Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44120
  • 15250 S Waterloo Rd, Cleveland, OH 44110
  • AJC FED BLDG, Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building, 1240 E 9th St RM 793, Cleveland, OH 44199
  • 18711 Miles Rd, Warrensville Heights, OH 44128
  • 3591 Park E Dr, Beachwood, OH 44122
  • 7517 Lorain Ave, Cleveland, OH 44102
  • 17513 Detroit Ave, Lakewood, OH 44107
  • 7344 Pearl Rd, Middleburg Heights, OH 44130

Spoken English Language Programs

The School of Graduate Studies (where Postdoctoral Affairs is housed) offers assistance for those who want to practice pronunciation, fluency, vocabulary, and other spoken English skills can sign up for Spoken English Tutoring through our Spoken English Language Partner (SELP) program.

Find information about the Spoken English Language Program and the FREE seminars available.

Your spouse can also participate in the seminars!

You can practice for an upcoming presentation!

Seminars available on Pronunciation, Fluency, Culture, and Communication!


Getting Around

Information on transportation can be found here, including getting your license, trains, shuttles, rental cars, scooters, and bikes. 

Culture Shock

At the beginning of any new phase in your life, it is normal to experience heightened levels of stress, even if that new phase has been long-planned and carefully considered. Wherever you come from, transitioning to your new life in Cleveland can be somewhat of a shock. For those transitioning to CWRU from abroad, that shock can be quite strong.

Find information about Culture Shock and what you can do to handle it here

International Student Fellowship and Spouse Support Group @ CWRU

The International Student Fellowship provides social and spiritual support for international students and postdocs from many cultures, faiths, and backgrounds. Sometimes they meet in the homes of members and cook together, or go on a field trip to places like the zoo, museums, downtown, shopping, or group events with family. They also hold a Friday Night Fellowship every Friday, as well as other events throughout the year. 

For the International Spouse Support Group, spouses (or married females) of international students, scholars, faculty, and staff are welcome to join, as well as American woman interested in building cross cultural friendships.


International Postdoc Survival Guide

In order to help alleviate some of these stresses and better inform current and prospective international postdocs, the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) has created an online resource, the Survival Guide for International Postdocs. The Survival Guide has been compiled by members of the International Postdoc Committee (IPC) with the expert assistance of university international offices and postdoctoral offices, as well as an immigration attorney. It draws on the experiences of current and former postdocs who have traveled to the U.S. to do their postdoctoral training.