Working with Banks, the Social Security Office, the Driver's License Station and other Busiess Agencies
This is only a brief overview on these topics. More details will be given at student orientation sessions and ESL staff will be available to assist during the semester.
- All documents
- Be familiar with the procedure and requirements
- Passport, I-20, I-94 card and APSU I.D. card
Plan your time carefully.
- Be prepared for long lines and considerable waits.
If you have an appointment, be on time.
- Punctuality is valued and is a way of being respectful.
- If you miss an appointment you may have to reschedule for another day.
Know the rules that protect you.
- Show a copy of the Social Security Publication No. 05-10096 or No. 05-10181 if needed to prove that you are ineligible for a SSN.
- Banks use the W-8 in place of Social Security cards. For more information on Form W-8 BEN, go to www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/iw8ben.pdf
- The Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles (DVM) provides a list to their employees with all visa types that are not required to show SSN for driver’s certificate. There is a Social Security Number Affidavit form that you will need to complete and use at www.tennessee.gov/safety/forms/ssnaffidavit.pdf
Remain calm and polite.
When all else fails, leave and come back later with reinforcements.
- If no one can help you at the time you visit a business or agency, come back when a higher-level authority is available;
- Or ask to speak to someone with experience with internationals.
- If the ESL coordinator can be of assistance, ask for an official letter on your behalf.
Open a bank account at the bank’s main office instead of a branch office.
Be patient and flexible. Most businesses use computer systems that run on Social Security numbers. Not using a SSN is not impossible but can take more time. Showing proof to the person you are working with that you are not eligible for a SSN could be helpful (see # 4 above).
In general, only noncitizens who have permission to work from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can apply for a Social Security number. Lawfully admitted noncitizens can get many benefits and services without a Social Security number.
Although sometimes requested, it is not required that you have a social security number for thing such as:
- Obtaining a driver’s license.
- Applying to rent/purchase a house or apartment.
- Applying for a bank account.
- Registering for school.
- Obtaining health insurance.
What is the purpose of businesses wanting social security numbers?
The main use of Social Security numbers (SSN) by businesses and landlords is to verify credit history. International students usually do not have any credit history since they have recently moved to the U.S., so it is useless for businesses to run a credit check on a SSN or to even ask for a SSN.
Many businesses will say that it is a requirement for the customer to provide a Social Security number. However, this is not true. Social Security numbers are the most common form of identification in the U.S., but they are not the only form of legal acceptable identification.
For more information about Social Security numbers and regulations regarding SSN, see www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber
You do not need a Social Security number to get a driver’s license, if you have an F visa.
Check with the ESL coordinator to ensure your SEVIS record is in active status.
Be prepared for long lines at the driver’s license office.
Make an appointment for your road driving tests, but remember you can only take the road test after you have passed both the written and the vision tests.
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