Information for Spouses and Families
There are many resources available for international spouses and families in Pittsburgh both on and off the Carnegie Mellon campus. Some of these resources are listed below. For more information about resources or other issues that affect spouses and families, please speak with an OIE advisor or attend a Carnegie Mellon International Spouse and Partner’s Organization (ISPO) event.
Carnegie Mellon Affiliate Identification (ID) Card
The Affiliate ID card allows spouses and partners to access Carnegie Mellon’s 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 Affiliate Card is not available to family members of scholars who do not receive benefits through CMU’s Human Resources office. The card is valid for one year and is available through the Hub, Warner Hall, lower level.
Phone: (412) 268-5224
Campus Activities Using Affiliate ID Card
A list of the benefits available to a dependent with an Affiliate ID is available on the Human Resources website:
For example, the ID+ card enables the holder to:
- use university facilities & services (such as athletic facilities, libraries, and university events),
- take advantage discounts for faculty/staff (at the University Book Store, Drama performances, etc.),
- gain entrance to university buildings and offices,
- link the card with a PNC bank account, so it can be used as an ATM card,
- ride for free on PAT Transit System busses, T's and inclines (benefits-eligible, full-time, permanent faculty and staff only)
- use PlaidCa$h: a prepaid, debit account accessible via your ID+ Card. It is the convenient, cashless way to pay on and off campus. It can be used dozens of locations, including on-campus stores, dining facilities, and off-campus restaurants and stores.
English as a Second Language (ESL) Resources
The Intercultural Communication Center offers language training to all non-native English speaking Carnegie Mellon students, but NOT to spouses or relatives. However, information about other organizations in Pittsburgh that offer language training is available on the ICC website and at Global Pittsburgh. Information about two such ESL programs that are free of charge can be found on the following websites:
Organizations for Spouses
Many spouses and partners become involved in the Carnegie Mellon International Spouses and Partners Organization (ISPO) and the International Women’s Association of Pittsburgh.
The Carnegie Mellon International Spouses and Partners Organization (ISPO) provides opportunities for spouses and partners from different cultural backgrounds to share their cultures, enjoy social activities, and make friends. For more information call OIE at 412-268-5231.
The International Women’s Association of Pittsburgh offers English conversation classes, international cooking, crafts, and programs about world customs and culture. The group meets at the First Baptist Church in Oakland (They meet at the church because it is a convenient location. This is not a religious organization). For more information, call 724-554-0655, 412-828-4663 (French), 412-422-7264(Chinese), 412-531-0179 (German), 412-421-5159(Japanese), 412-745-8712(Korean), 412-683-1691(Spanish) or 412-682-6276 (Urdu/Hindi) or email.
There are many opportunities to participate in volunteer work:
CMU CYERT Center for Early Education
Carla Freund or Melinda Droulia, 412-268-2149
Pittsburgh Council for International Visitors
Allegheny County Court Appointed Special Advocates
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh
American Red Cross
412-263-3100 or 888-217-9599
Allegheny County United Way
For further information on volunteer services, see the Blue Pages in the Bell Atlantic phone directory or ask for more information from your foreign student and scholar advisor.
Social Security Number (SSN) for Your Spouse
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.
Driver’s License or Pennsylvania State Identification (ID) for Your Spouse
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 documents. A dependent goes to the Social Security Administration (with original immigration documents) to apply for a SSN. The application will be reviewed and denied resulting in a SSN denial letter. Dependents must take this denial letter when they apply for the driver’s license or State ID Dependents must request a Driver’s License Letter from OIE before going to the PENNDOT office. Please refer to the OIE handout about applying for a Driver’s License.
Dependents in J-2 status may obtain employment authorization and legally work in the US. Employment authorization must be obtained prior to beginning employment. Applications and instructions are available from OIE in the form of a handout or from our office. Dependents in F-2, H-4 or TD status may not legally work in the US.
Last Updated: October 20, 2011