Skip Navigation

First year in the United States

Life in the United States

Moving to a new country can be a daunting, yet exciting challenge. Besides the sometime obvious cultural differences, there can be many other unexpected hurdles you will come across. In this "survival guide," we have attempted to cover most of the questions you have and explain many of the challenges you are likely to face. The guide contains information you'll need on practical matters, including banking, housing, social security numbers, and driver's licenses.

Banking and Financial Information

Cell Phones

Community Support


Language Support

Inviting Family to Visit


Banking and Financial Information

There are several banks near the Emory campus. A detailed list of required documents for each bank is available below.  ISSS recommends that students and scholars bring all immigration documents (I-20 or DS-2019 Form, passport with visa and I-94 card) when visiting a bank to open an account.

Bank   of America

1615   North Decatur Road NE (404) 329-4839
  (Between Clifton Road and Oxford Road, across from Glenn Memorial)

Documents   Required: One form of primary identification or two forms of secondary   identification. Acceptable documents include:
  - Passport (primary)
  - Georgia driver's license (primary)
  - International driver's permit (secondary)
  - Home country driver's license [if the bank can identify it as a driver's   license] (secondary)
  - Emory student ID (secondary)
  - Credit card (secondary)
  - Social security card (secondary) 

Suntrust   Bank 1685 North Decatur Road NE (404) 728-1200
  (Corner of North Decatur Road and Clifton Road)

Documents   Required:
  - Passport
  - Visa
  - Emory ID or letter confirming enrollment
  - If you don't have a SSN, you will need to show proof of residency from your   home country. This can be your enrollment letter or mail from your home   country. 

Wells   Fargo

725   Houston Mill Road (404) 329-1830
  (corner of Houston Mill Road and Clifton Road)

Documents   Required:
  - Passport/Visa
  - Driver's license, SSN Emory ID Card (possible secondary identification)
  - Work tax ID card 

Fidelity   National Bank

2936   North Druid Hills Road (404) 329-9595
  (Corner of North Druid Hills Road and LaVista Road, Toco Hills Plaza)

Documents   Required:
  - Passport
  - Visa
  - GA driver's license/IDP/Home country license (if available)
  - SSN or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number [ITIN] (if available)

East-West   Bank

4360   Chamblee Dunwoody Road (770) 454-4755
  (Just off I-285, before E Nancy Creek Road)

Documents   Required:
  - Passport
  - Visa
  - Letter of acceptance to Emory University

Many banks will give you an ATM (automated teller machine) card, also called a debit card, when you open your account. This card allows you to withdraw money from your bank account when you cannot get to your bank or use a check.  While these cards are a great convenience, please be aware of the security issues presented by ATM use.  You should not tell anyone your PIN (Personal Identification Number) that you receive with your card, nor write your PIN on your card. Use ATMs that are in well lit areas, during the day if possible. As for credit cards, you can inquire at your bank to see if you qualify.  If you have a credit card at home, it may be useful to bring it with you.

If you are a full-time student, you may qualify for a special checking account with a low (or no) service charge.  It is a good idea to compare the services offered by different banks so that you can find the account that best meets your checking and savings needs. 

Some questions to ask before selecting a bank account include:

  • What is the minimum balance required, and is there a penalty if my balance goes below that minimum? 
  • Will my checking account earn any interest? 
  • What will I pay in monthly service charges? 
  • What is the per check charge – how many free checks can I write each month?  (Expect to write at least three to five checks per month.) 
  • What other services does this bank offer, and how much does it charge for me to use them (for example, a safe deposit box, exchanging foreign currency, or getting certified or cashier's checks)?
  • Is it possible to pay bills online through my bank account?

Online payments of bills through your personal bank account have become increasingly common in the United States.  Ask your bank about procedures and availability for using an online banking payment system.  While in many countries paying by check is no longer common and it is becoming less common in the United States; checks are still used somewhat frequently in this country. Here are some aspects to consider:

  • Keep track of the check numbers and your balance in the checkbook register – should you have to cancel a check, the bank must have that number.
  • If you choose not to retain carbon copies of your checks, be sure to shred them carefully. The account number and routing number listed on your carbons may allow others to gain access to your account.

Beware of Financial Scams

Unfortunately, international students and scholars can be a favorite target of “scam” or “con” artists—people who attempt to take your money using a variety of schemes, set-ups and false advertising.  Please be very cautious when approached by strangers with stories or requests which involve putting up deposits or giving them your money.  Do not respond to requests via email or telephone to solicit personal financial information from you, such as your bank account number or your Social Security Number (SSN).

Cell Phones

Generally speaking, international students and scholars have two options in obtaining mobile phone service in the United States: (1) pre-paid service and (2) contract-based service. Pre-paid service – in which an individual purchases a phone and regularly adds minutes to his or her account – is the more expensive option, but offers more flexibility in that pre-paid service does not require a Social Security Number (SSN) or U.S. credit history and allows for short-term cell phone use. Alternatively, contract-based service provides a lower monthly cost, but requires a commitment of 1-2 years. Additionally, most companies providing contract-based service require individuals who do not have an SSN to pay a security deposit (usually several hundred dollars). Even if a student or scholar is eligible for and has obtained an SSN, he or she may still be required to pay a deposit if he or she has not resided in the United States long enough to establish a U.S. credit history.

A variety of retailers provide cell phones in the Atlanta area. You may find retailer locations in Atlanta by visiting the websites of the major mobile phone carriers:


Verizon Wireless



Boost Mobile

Virgin Mobile


Community Support

There are many ways for international students, scholars and their family members to meet people and become involved with the community. Here are some suggested contacts to help:

Religious Services

Support Groups

  • International Spouses Group: This group meets weekly at Emory and is sponsored by a community volunteer, Ms. Christina Dondero. Phone: 404-918-7248.
  • Emory Women's Center: Offers a library, counseling services, and sponsors a number of events each year focusing on women’s issues and interests. Phone: 404-727-2000


ISSS collaborates with the Atlanta Ministry with International Students (AMIS), in which members of the metropolitan Atlanta community come together in an organization aimed at introducing international students and scholars to Atlanta and its people by bringing them into contact with Atlanta families in the AMIGO friendship program, an annual bus tour of Atlanta and the Welcome Reception that celebrates all international students and scholars at Atlanta colleges and universities.


  • Volunteer Emory: Volunteer Emory is a program of the Office of Student Leadership & Service that facilitates service opportunities and social justice work for Emory students, faculty, staff and alumni. Volunteers are welcome to help in various projects.
  • Volunteering in Atlanta: There are many organizations in the Atlanta area that would welcome international persons who wish to volunteer. ISSS recommends the following two organizations:

    Hands on Atlanta is an organization that will match your skills with volunteer positions available.

The Georgia Mutual Assistance Association Consortium (GMAAC) needs volunteers to support refugees and children. You may contact them at 404-299-6646.

Driving in the United States

Do I need a Georgia driver’s license?

Georgia law permits an individual who possesses a valid driver’s license issued in his or her home country to operate a motor vehicle in Georgia. This permission is limited to a maximum period of one year and it applies only to those who are non-residents of the state. Thus, as foreign citizens in non-immigrant classifications, international students and scholars should, in theory, qualify as non-residents and therefore use a valid out-of-country license to drive in Georgia for up to one year. However, international students and scholars should note the following:

  • Georgia’s code of state regulations generally defines a “resident” of the state as someone who maintains a permanent home in Georgia. Unfortunately, it also states that actions such as engaging in employment and enrolling children in public schools could lead to a presumption of resident status.
  • Students and scholars who choose to purchase a car in Georgia must register the vehicle in the county in which they live. Vehicle registration requires possession of a valid Georgia driver’s license or state identification card. Vehicle registration is handled by the Tax Commissioner’s office in each county. Please see the quick links box at right for more information.
  • If a student or scholar's out-of-country license is not in English, he or she must also possess the International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in Georgia. Some countries – notably China – do not issue the IDP. Please find more information about the IDP in the next section of this page.
  • An law enforcement officer conducting a traffic stop may be unaware of the aforementioned provision allowing foreign citizens to drive using an out-of-country license and may therefore still issue a citation for driving without a license if a student or scholar provides an out-of-country license and an IDP as documentation.

Because of these issues, ISSS recommends that all students and scholars (and their age-eligible dependents) who intend to drive in the United States obtain a Georgia driver’s license.

What is an International Driving Permit (IDP)?

Many students and scholars have questions about the “International Driving Permit” or “International Driver’s License.” An International Driving Permit (IDP) is simply a translation of an individual’s home country license into ten languages. As of January 2009, Georgia law requires foreign nationals whose home country license is not in English to also possess an IDP in order to drive under the provisions outlined in the introductory section of this page.

The “International Driver’s License” does not exist. In fact, the U.S. government warns both Americans and foreign citizens to beware of companies who claim to sell an “international driver’s license” as these operations are fraudulent.

How do I apply for a Georgia driver’s license?

International students and scholars who have recently arrived in the United States may not immediately apply for a Georgia driver’s license at the Department of Driver’s Services (DDS). They must first await confirmation of their arrival information in a government database. After this information has been received, they must then request either a Social Security Number (SSN) or proof of ineligibility for an SSN from the Social Security Administration (SSA). When these preliminary steps are complete, the student or scholar may apply for a driver’s license. Please note: this same process applies for students and scholars who wish to obtain a Georgia-issued state identification card.

Step 1: Confirming Arrival Information

A student or scholar’s arrival in the United States is communicated from the electronic systems used by officials at the port of entry to the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) database. When a student or scholar applies for a driver's license, the representatives at the DDS must check SAVE to confirm the applicant's legal presence.

Although border officials immediately enter the arrival information into their system, it can take 10 calendar days for it to appear in the SAVE database. Within a few days of a student or scholar’s orientation session at ISSS, his or her arrival on campus is confirmed by the advisors at ISSS. For those in F and J status, this information is communicated to a database called the Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) which, in turn, sends a message to the SAVE database. The information from SEVIS usually takes two business days to appear in SAVE following ISSS confirmation in SEVIS.

In addition to the port of entry information and the SEVIS registration/validation information, the SAVE database also requires an applicant to provide current immigration documents in order to confirm legal presence. Thus, although many immigration statuses allow foreign citizens to enter the United States prior to the start date listed on the immigration document, the SAVE database will automatically reject any query that occurs prior to the start date.

Therefore, given the requirement for current documents and the delays in updating the SAVE database, ISSS recommends that students and scholars wait until the start date of the immigration document has been reached, 10 days have passed since their entry at the US border and at least three business days have passed since ISSS orientation before moving on to the next step in the process. 

Step 2: Applying for an SSN or SSAL-676

The DDS requires proof of a student or scholar’s Social Security Number (SSN) or ineligibility for the SSN as a part of the driver’s license application. The SSN is issued by the United States government in order to track employment for tax purposes. Students in J-1 status and scholars in J-1, H-1B, O-1, and TN statuses are immediately eligible and must submit an application for an SSN and wait to receive the card in the mail prior to visiting the DDS.

Students in F-1 status and dependents in J-2 status are only eligible for an SSN if they provide proof of work authorization; F-2, H-4, TD, and O-3 dependents are never eligible for an SSN because they are prohibited from engaging in employment in the United States. A letter of ineligibility issued by the SSA (also called Form SSAL-676) is a required part of the DDS application if an individual is not permitted to apply for an SSN; thus, individuals currently ineligible for an SSN must also visit the SSA prior to applying for a Georgia driver’s license in order to obtain SSAL-676. This rejection letter is produced at the time of application, so SSAL-676 applicants may visit the DDS immediately following their visit to the SSA as long as they have all other required documents for the application (see below) and at least 10 days have passed since they entered the United States.

Step 3: Applying for the Driver’s License

After you have completed the steps listed above, bring the following documents to a DDS office:

  • Immigration documents (I-20, DS-2019, I-797 approval notice, etc.)
  • Passport with valid I-94 printout or card
  • Social Security Card or SSAL-676
  • Home country license (if applicable)
  • Proof of residence:
    • A student or scholar living off-campus should bring an apartment lease and a secondary item, such as a utility bill, which lists his or her name and local address
    • Emory provides letters confirming the local address for undergraduate students living on campus. Those on main campus should visit Alabama Hall to obtain the letter. Those on Clairmont Campus must visit the Community Office in the Tower Apartments.

How do I renew my Georgia driver’s license?

The Georgia DDS will only issue a driver’s license for the approved period of time listed in official USCIS documentation. Students, scholars, and dependents extending their stay beyond the currently approved end date or changing their immigration status from within the United States are not eligible to extend the driver’s license until the approval for the extension or change of status is received. In the case of extensions, this circumstance would apply to H-1B, O-1, and TN scholars who have filed petitions to extend their employment as well as F-1 students and J-2 dependents applying for EAD-based work authorization from USCIS (ex: OPT, 17-Month Extension of OPT).

Following receipt of the official approval, students, scholars, and dependents may immediately visit the DDS. However, in many cases the extension approval information is not immediately accessible in the SAVE database despite the fact that the individual has documentation of the approval in hand. The SAVE verification process thus may continue to cause delays beyond the receipt of the approval and the DDS may not issue a new driver's license until the extension or change of status appears in SAVE.

Why is my driver’s license application still pending?

As referenced above, a variety of factors can affect issuance of a Georgia driver’s license. In some cases, delays relate to DDS policies (which are based on Georgia law). In other instances, applications are delayed because information that you can provide on paper (i.e. approval of your extension or change of immigration status) may not appear correctly in government databases meant to verify this information (SAVE, SEVIS).

ISSS is advocating for change at all levels of the process and can also assist with your individual case. If you have questions about the application process or are confused about the current status of your application, please bring the information you have received to your International Student or Scholar Advisor and he or she will help explain – and potentially take steps to address – your delay.

Language Support

English as a Second Language Classes

There are many courses/classes available to help international students, scholars and/or spouses improve English speaking abilities. Some of the options are free and others charge a fee to participate.

Free   Classes

Intown   Community Church, 2059 Lavista Road*

(404)   633-8077

Wieuca   Baptist Church, 3626 Peachtree Road

(404)   814-4460

Georgia   Piedmont Technical College ESL Program

(404)   297-9522


Classes   with Fees

Evening at Emory

(404)   727-6000

Mercer University   English Language Institute

(404)   547-6375

Georgia Institute of Technology   Language Institute

(404)   894-2425

Georgia Perimeter College ESL   Department

(404)   299-4128

Georgia State University ESL   Department

(404)   651-3650

*Intown Community Church charges a one-time $20 registration fee for its classes, which take place every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 - 9 p.m.

Inviting Family to Visit


Dependents are defined as spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21. They may accompany you to Emory following receipt of the required immigration documents. If your dependents will accompany you immediately, immigration documents for dependents should be requested at the time of application for your own documents. However, you may request documents for dependent admission at any point during your stay. The Dependent Request Form is available through ISSS Link. You may find more information on local schools in our section on school-age children.

Each dependent will need a separate I-20/DS-2019 in order to enter the United States. The dependents will need to apply for a F-2 or J-2 visa before entering. Dependents will need the I-20/DS-2019 document and a valid entry visa in their passport in order to enter the United States.

F-1 Students

Dependents of F-1 students are issued Form I-20 in order to apply for the F-2 dependent entry visa. F-2 dependents are not, under any circumstances, allowed to earn income in the United States. F-2 dependents are not permitted to take classes, even part-time, unless they first change to student status. The exceptions to this rule are:

    1. F-2 children engaged in full-time study in an elementary or secondary school, or
    2. F-2 dependents engaged in part-time study which is avocational or recreational in nature (e.g. crafts class, etc.)

F-2 dependents are strongly encouraged to obtain health insurance due to the high cost of health care in the United States, but are not required to do so by law.

J-1 Students and Scholars

Dependents of J-1 students and scholars are issued Form DS-2019 in order to apply for the J-2 dependent entry visa. Federal Regulations require J-2 dependents to maintain health insurance for the duration of J-2 status. Dependents in J-2 status are eligible to apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for employment authorization once they arrive in the United States. If your J-2 dependents are interested in working in the United States, please see the J-2 Employment Request Form in the quick links box to the right. J-2 dependents are also permitted to study in the United States.

H-1B Employees

Dependents of an H-1B temporary worker are granted H-4 status. Applications for H-4 status (Form I-539) should be included in the petition for the H-1B worker if the dependents are in the United States. Dependents of H-1Bs who are outside the United States need no separate form to apply for the H-4 visa. The H-1B approval notice and proof of relationship to the H-1B is usually sufficient documentation for the visa application.

Dependents in H-4 status are not eligible for employment. They are permitted to study in the United States. H-4 dependents are strongly encouraged to obtain health insurance due to the high cost of health care in the United States, but are not required to do so by law.

Inviting Family to Visit

When a family member wishes to visit you at Emory, he or she will need to obtain a B-2 visitor’s visa from a U.S. consulate or embassy. This usually requires a personal appearance before a consular officer.

A complete B-2 visa application should include the following:

• Proof that the applicant is properly classifiable as a B-2 visitor for pleasure
• Evidence of financial ability to meet expenses
• Proof of residence abroad and intent to return
• Passport, valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay. (Note: If more than one person is included in the passport, each person must make a separate visa application.)
• Complete Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application
• Two photos, 1.5 inches square (37x37 mm) for each applicant, showing full face, without head covering, against a light background
• Proof of payment of Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee
• Visa reciprocity fee (if applicable)

The consular officer may require additional evidence to demonstrate that the applicant is eligible for such a visa. Your family should check with the consulate prior to the visa appointment to find out whether any additional items will be required.

The ISSS office supports Emory students' and scholars' requests to have families visit them in the United States. Your advisor can create a letter of invitation (optional) that may be presented to the consular official when your immediate relatives (spouse, parents, or children) apply for the B-2 visitor's visa. The form for requesting this letter is available in ISSS Link.

Student Housing

Finding a place to live while at Emory can be a daunting task, and your rent/housing payment will be perhaps the largest expense in your overall budget while you are studying in the United States. The following information may help by giving you some useful tips and suggestions for housing possibilities. Please note: while specific businesses are mentioned in these pages, this section is not intended to serve as either an exhaustive list or as an endorsement of those businesses by Emory.

An Important Note on Apartments

Most apartments are leased unfurnished. This means if you have signed a lease for an unfurnished apartment, the apartment will have a stove and refrigerator but no other furniture. You will need approximately $2,000 to cover the initial expenses when you first arrive. These expenses include establishing utility services such as electricity, water and natural gas as well as purchasing furniture and household necessities.

Undergraduate Students

All first- and second-year students (freshman and sophomores) are required to live in Emory University residence halls unless permission has been obtained from Residence Life to live off-campus. All other students (juniors, seniors and exchange students) may choose to live either on-campus or off-campus. The Office of Residence Life and Housing provides information on residence halls. Emory owns and operates student residence halls located on campus; there are traditional double-room halls, single rooms and apartment-style housing units available. The halls include private and semi-private furnished rooms for unmarried students, lounges, recreation rooms, study rooms, and laundry facilities. Graduate students are employed as Resident Directors (RDs), and upper division undergraduates work as Resident Advisors (RAs). These RDs and RAs provide general assistance to their hall residents and coordinate various educational, social, and recreational activities.

You should receive information from the Office of Residence Life and Housing during the summer prior to fall admission. This information will cover topics such as arrival dates, check-in and what you should bring with you. If you arrive before the residence halls open and/or your parents accompany you, please see the hotel listings in the quick links box. You will need to make a reservation directly with the hotel of your choice.

International undergraduate students can order linens that match the beds in residence halls online before arriving in the United States, provided that they use their Emory residence hall address for shipping address. You may order these items from the Residence Hall Linens website.

Graduate and Professional Students

Please note: Emory University does not provide housing for graduate or professional school students. There are, however, a number of options available off-campus. Your school or department may be willing to help you find temporary housing for when you first arrive; please contact your school/department directly to inquire about this possibility. If you anticipate needing to stay in a hotel, please see the hotel listings in the quick links box. Students searching for apartments with roommates should also note that a DeKalb County ordinance states that a maximum of four non-related persons may reside in a single family dwelling.

Campus Crossings at Briarcliff is an independently-run apartment community designed for Emory graduate and professional students. Additional off-campus housing options are available at the Emory off-campus housing website. The Apartment Finder below lists most of the apartment complexes close to campus. (Click on the blue arrows to get more information on each apartment complex)

View Apartment Complexes in a larger map


For information on hotels in the Emory and greater Atlanta area, visit Emory College's website.


In the United States, when you purchase tangible goods, utilities or other services, you generally must pay a sales tax. The sales tax amount differs from state to state, and some states do not charge a tax at all. However, the state of Georgia does have a sales tax.

Sales tax is not stated in the price of an item; it is added to the price when you pay. As mentioned previously, sales tax varies depending upon the state and, sometimes, the county within the state. In the Atlanta area, the sales tax is generally 7% of the price (except for food tax which is generally 2-3%). Thus, if an item is priced at $1.00, your total cost will be $1.07. If you are uncertain about how much a particular item will cost, you can ask a cashier to check for you.

What is a Social Security number (SSN)?

A Social Security number is a nine-digit number assigned to all U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and some international visitors, and is used to keep a record of income for tax purposes. Please refer to the Social Security Administration's (SSA) International Students and Social Security Numbers PDF for more information.

Do I need an SSN?

If you are receiving wages from an employer in the United States (such as receiving a stipend from Emory or working in an on-campus job), you will need an SSN.

You may encounter various requests for an SSN for identification purposes while conducting business in the United States, but your passport should serve as sufficient identification in most cases.

How do I apply for an SSN?

You should not attempt to apply for an SSN until you have been in the United States for at least 10 business days. Learn more.

F-1 students may only receive an SSN if they have an offer of employment. In order to apply for an SSN, F-1 students must provide a passport, I-20, I-94 arrival/departure record, and letters from both their employer and ISSS. The ISSS letter can be requested via the F-1 Social Security Letter e-form in ISSS Link. Students may apply for an SSN up to 30 days prior to the on-campus employment start date.

J-1 students need only the DS-2019 Form and I-94 arrival/departure record to apply. If you will receive a fellowship or assistantship you may be able to apply for the SSN on campus during a designated appointment period in August. Otherwise, you will need to visit the SSA office in order to apply for an SSN.

The SSN application process is free and no appointment is necessary. When you enter the SSA office, you may have to wait in line for several hours. It is recommended that you go early in the morning.

NOTE: If you are employed by Emory, Human Resources will assign you a “dummy” ID number in the Emory system for use until the SSN is received. Students and scholars should not use the “dummy” ID number assigned by Emory as an ID number anywhere else outside of Emory! Any applicable tax treaty benefits will not apply until the student or scholar obtains the SSN and provides a copy of the SSN card to Mary Chenault in the Office of the Controller.

How long does it take to get the SSN?

On average, it takes two weeks to receive the SSN. Learn more.

I was told that I need to have an SSN in order to apply for a Georgia driver’s license.  How can I get a driver’s license if I cannot get an SSN?

To apply for a Georgia driver’s license, you must provide your SSN or official evidence that you are not eligible for an SSN. The SSA will issue Form SSAL-676 (essentially a "denial" or "rejection" letter) if you are not eligible for an SSN but wish to apply for a Georgia driver’s license. For more information, please see Driving in the United States.

Where do I apply for an SSN?

F-1 and J-1 students can apply for the SSN on Emory's campus during a designated appointment period in August.

There are also several SSA office locations in the Atlanta area, including the South Dekalb office in Decatur (2801 Candler Road), downtown Atlanta (401 W. Peachtree Street), and Norcross (4365 Shackleford Road). Students and scholars may search for local SSA offices by inputting a zip code on the Social Security Administration website, which also provides detailed directions and office hours. The South Dekalb SSA office is accessible via Emory's Cliff Shuttle system (shuttle schedule).

What documents do I need to bring with me to the SSA?

Social Security number applications are taken in person. All F-1 and J-1 student applicants should bring a completed Form SS-5 and original immigration documents (passport, Form I-20 or DS-2019 Form issued by Emory University, and valid I-94) to the SSA.

F-1 Students
F-1 students who are applying for an SSN based on on-campus employment must bring letters from both their employer and ISSS. The ISSS letter can be requested via the F-1 Social Security Letter e-form in ISSS Link.

F-1 students who are applying for an SSN based on Curricular Practical Training should request a letter of confirmation from ISSS in conjunction with the CPT application. Students may apply for an SSN up to 30 days prior to the CPT start date listed on page three of the I-20.

F-1 students who are applying for an SSN based on an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) received as approval for Optional Practical Training, Employment with an International Organization or Employment for Severe Economic Hardship must also bring the EAD. Students may apply for an SSN once the EAD start date has been reached.

J-1 Students
J-1 students who are applying for an SSN based on on-campus employment must bring an authorization letter completed by an ARO in ISSS. Visit J-1 On-Campus Employment to learn more about the authorization process.

Students in J-1 status sponsored by organizations other than Emory University must contact their J-1 sponsor to request the employment authorization letter.

J-1 students who are applying for an SSN based on Academic Training must also bring the authorization letter issued by ISSS and the offer letter from the employer.

J-1 Scholars
If employed by Emory, a letter of appointment may be helpful but is not always required.

H-1B Scholars
Employment is implicit in this immigration status. Therefore, no additional documents aside from the I-797 approval notice and other immigration documents are required for application.

If I get an SSN, does it mean I may accept any job?

No! SSNs issued to non-immigrants (individuals who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents) are valid only in conjunction with a corresponding work authorization appropriate for their visa status. The SSN is not work authorization in itself.

I have been given an ID number by Emory University. Do I still need an SSN?  Do I have to change my ID number?

An Emory ID number is not an SSN. You do not need to change your ID number. However, when you obtain your SSN, you should notify Susan Newborn in the division of Data Services in Human Resources AND Mary Chenault in the Controller's Office immediately.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

Students and scholars who are not eligible for a Social Security number may apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) when filing taxes. ITINs are for tax filing purposes only. To apply for an ITIN for you or your dependents, fill out Form W-7 and send the required documentation to the Austin Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office. Completed forms W-7(s) and supporting documents are then included with the tax return.