Obtaining A Social Security Number

As exciting as applying for an on-campus or off-campus job is, the process of being authorized to work and being able to get paid can be equally distressing. However, as an international student who just began working on campus, I’m going to try and make this part of your college journey as easy as possible by breaking down the entire process for obtaining a social security number. 

What is a Social Security Number?

Before I get into the methodical process it’s good to know what a SSN is.  A Social Security number is assigned to all US citizens at birth and  is used for employment purposes in the United States and is used to track earnings. It’s basically a form of identification and the card contains a unique number that many places will ask for to prove who you are. International students in F-1 status must apply for a SSN if they are employed while studying in the US. 

As you prepare to gather your documents the SSA will require that you prove your identity, age, immigration status, and eligibility to work. In addition, international or F-1 students must provide evidence of on-campus employment from the campus department and verification of enrollment status from the department that hired you. I will further explain the exact documents required but the first step for any international student should be to open an American bank account (for your paycheck to be deposited) which is a fairly easy process. You can find how to open an American bank account here- sites.callutheran.edu/global-engagement/2021/08/03/opening-a-bank-aaccount/. 

Documents required for scheduling an appointment

To apply for a social security number, you must first be offered a job and be given an employment offer letter and you can apply for a SSN upto 30 days before the start of your employment.

You will have to physically mail the following documents (listed below the mailing address) to your Local Social Security Administration Office. Once they have received your documents they will contact you regarding scheduling an interview.

As a student at CLU the Social Security Administration Office mailing address would be: 
SUITE 110
322 E THOUSAND OAKS BL
THOUSAND OAKS, CA 91360

The documents required to be mailed are: 

    1. The SS-5 (Social Security Application): Needs to be filled out by the applicant (it also mentions all the documents required to be included in your application). You can email Career Services for the form.
    2. Official letter of employment (a letter from the office that you are employed in stating your employment): You will have to send a request for this letter through the OISS student portal and on the student portal there should be a Letter Request option on the left. The letter will then be emailed to you.
    3. I-20 (most recent)
    4. I-94 (you can download your I-94 here: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home and click on “Get most recent I-94” )
    5. Passport copy (including your F-1 Visa)

After mailing the documents

Once you have mailed the documents you should hear back from the SSA regarding scheduling an appointment. This usually takes about 2 weeks and if it takes more than 2 weeks you should contact them and check on your application. 

Interview 

Once an interview is scheduled you will need to carry your original passport, a copy of your I-20 and I-94 (not required but it is always better to have a copy of both documents), your Student ID and Letter of Employment.

After the interview is completed your documents will either be verified immediately and you will receive a SSN after a day or two (not the physical card just the number) or usually it would take upto 4 weeks to verify your documents. In my opinion it usually takes 4 weeks and although this is a long process, to be able to start working right after your interview you need to ask for a receipt (during your interview) which shows your application has been approved. This receipt will allow you to work immediately on-campus however you will not be paid until you receive your SSN. After your application has been processed (which takes about 4 weeks) you should receive your SSN card in the mail and inform Career Services and the department that hired you.

Since this can be a lengthy process especially for students with an F-1 visa I would highly recommend submitting all the necessary documents a few weeks ahead of time in order to get an interview and receive your SSN in time. 

And that’s all there is to it. Obtaining a Social Security Number isn’t necessarily complicated, it’s just a very lengthy process with a lot of wait time but the experience of being able to work on campus and meet other students and staff definitely makes it worth it!

By: Malaika Nazim

Advice from Tamar

You’re reading this because you’re like me. You love studying abroad! I mean who doesn’t? It’s a different, new, and adventurous experience. You either hit rock bottom or you live the best moments of your life. Don’t worry. In most cases, you’re living the time of your life. Yes, you’re away from your home, your comfort zone, and you’re likely thrown into a culture shock. I clearly remember my first time in the US. I was fascinated by American public bathroom doors. If you look inside them, you might be able to see the person using the toilet! CRAZY! But despite the tough times, it’s definitely worth it.

Here are 4 advice from a baddie who published her first book and founded her non-profit as a CLU student:

1- Use available resources. CLU has a lot of resources that many students don’t take advantage of. Please, use them. For example, when will you ever go to a therapist without paying them? Your tuition covers such services. Use the chapel’s pantry with many food options. In times of struggle, the pantry was a savior. Go to events on campus. They usually have food trucks. Don’t we all love food trucks? Even outside CLU, being a student comes with benefits. Students in the US get a lot of discounts like in movie theaters. Even Spotify and Hulu offer student discounts. Also, the city of Thousand Oaks has a free transportation system within Thousand Oaks. Don’t waste your money on Ubers and Lyfts. So, always do your research. It can save you a lot of money.

2- Network, network, network. Making connections got me jobs on campus. Applying to jobs hasn’t. Making connections got me to travel to different states for conferences and events at least once a month pre COVID. Be out there.

3- Use your time wisely. I got to publish my book, “The Future of Palestine: How Discrimination Hinders Change” while studying and having a part-time job. A few months later, I started my non-profit, Yalla – Palestinian Student Leaders. Know how to manage your time.

4- Make friends and have fun. Orientation week is a golden week. That’s where I made friends for life who shared my cultural and ethnic background. Clubs, programs, and classes are also great places to make new friends. Working hard for a successful future is important but sustaining your relationships and having fun is as important, especially for your mental health. Go to Tarantula Hill and then to Tipsy Goat across the street for a typical Thousand Oaks fun night. The Oaks mall is amazing for shopping. Split gas with a friend who has a car and do fun stuff in LA or nearby areas. You are in a new country. Enjoy it.

You are here to learn, grow and have fun. If you need anything, know that you’re not alone. The international office is a place to go to when in need.

By: Tamar Haddad

Traveling for the First Time?

Hello! If you are an international student that has never flown internationally or are unsure about the flight process, I am here to help! We will all be coming from different airports, but we will all end up in LAX. I will do my best to walk you through the process! First let me list all the documents you will need for your travels. Make sure you keep these documents in your CARRY ON.

  1. I-20
  2. Passport
  3. Visa
  4. I-94 (If you have travelled to the US before, if not you will print it once you arrive)
  5. Proof of Negative Covid Test
  6. Class schedule

Once you have prepared all of this, you are set. When you get to the airport you are departing from, they will most likely ask for your passport & covid test. This process is usually quick, you will check in your bags, go though airport security and will be ready to go to your gate. You will receive a CBP Traveler Entry Form once you are on the plane, fill this in anytime during your flight. 

Once you get to LAX, you will go through immigration, where you will show all the documents listed above. They will ask a couple questions and will ask to see your passport and I-20. You will also need the CBP Traveler Entry Form you received on the plane. You will then grab your bags and hand the CBP Form to the officers at the exit. You will then go to either the pick up spot, wait for a shuttle bus (if you have reserved it), or get onto a bus to go to the uber pick up area. 

IF you have a layover, you will go through immigration there, in which you will show all your documents then. You will show the documents listed above, along with the CBP Traveler Entry Form to the immigration agent. Note that sometimes you will need to get your bags and drop them off in a designated area. You will need to hand the CBP Form to leave. You will then be able to go to the gate for your next flight. 

When you get to LAX after a layover in the US, you will not need to go through immigration. You will go to pick up your bags and you will be able to leave LAX as soon as you have your belongings. That’s about it! Sometimes they can take you in for a second screening, but as long as you have all your documents you should be all good. Safe Travels!

By: Emma Kohara

Say Hi to Your Peer Mentor!

As an incoming international student, we are all assigned an international peer mentor! They are students who will help you get acclimated to life in the US and will answer all your questions and concerns about CLU. Peer mentors consist of international students, study abroad alumni, and global ambassadors. 

If you are an incoming international student, you should be getting an email directly from your peer mentor a week or two before orientation. Feel free to ask them any questions or advice on any topic because they were once in your shoes! They are here to help. Once you arrive on campus, the international orientation will take place before regular orientation. This will give you a chance to learn about your responsibilities as an F1 visa holder. The peer mentors will lead orientation and will be a part of the information session. Here you will meet your mentor and have a chance to talk and spend some time with them. Don’t worry there will also be food, fun activities and an international social where you can meet other students! 

I had a peer mentor my first year who studied abroad in Japan, where I am from. This gave us a great chance to bond over both our experiences. She helped me so much from finding a job on campus, choosing classes, using the myclu portal all before I stepped onto campus. All the peer mentors my freshman year were incredibly supportive and kind and we were able to create a small community within the CGE. This helped me immensely with getting comfortable in the US, which is why I applied to become a peer mentor as well. You can apply before the start of the new year by contacting Lara from the CGE, her email is lraynaud@callutheran.edu.

I’ve had the honor of meeting amazing people from all over the world through this program. I recommend dedicating your time to getting to know your mentors, mentees, and anyone in the global community because it’s such a unique experience you cannot get elsewhere on campus.

By: Emma Kohara

Adapting to New Environments

Summer is in full swing right now, and the idea of a new school year seems pretty far in the future for most of us. However, August will soon come around and we will all be making our way back to campus for another year at CLU! I will be a Junior when we return and I honestly cannot believe that I’m already in my third year, it’s insane! Time really has flown by and the terrifying prospect of “adulthood” gets ever closer…. However, I’m not talking about that today. I wanted to talk about how to adapt to your new environment, specifically as international students, who often face many more challenges the the residential students.

If the idea of getting on your first flight to the US, moving alone, or even just living with strangers for the first time is a daunting one to you do not worry, I feel you! It can be super scary at first, even more with the culture shock you face when arriving in the US. My advice to you would be to surround yourself with familiar things, whether its food from home, photos of people you cherish, or even just simple home comforts – make your home from home feel like just that! I’m so lucky to have the best friends around me who are also international students, and I think this is super important too. Without them, I would feel more alone because we RELATE to each other. We face similar struggles and therefore, you face them together. If you are wondering where to meet other fellow international students, come to the CGE! I’m usually there, along with loads of other friendly faces who will always be happy to talk to you and help you with any problems you may have 🙂 We also hold lots of fun events, as well as having peer mentor programs which are super helpful for new students! (I recommend this, it helped me loads!)

So, for now enjoy the rest of your summer! Be optimistic and look forward to the new school year, you will have the best time!!!

By: Sophie Davies

Opening a Bank Account

Attempt number something, I lost my count by now. It’s that thing where you want
to write something original, fun to read, not too shabby but each time you scribble you end up with something generic, redundant. My experiences as an international student might be different, may be useful however, one only watches the movies that are memorable to them and at this point I can’t tell if the things that are memorable to me would have the same effect on everyone else. So here I am going back to something that may actually be helpful (My experiences would be a good ice breaker when we all meet for the orientation.) How to open an account as an international student. (Yup fun fun !!)

STEP 1 – Finding the right bank for you:

Well so you travelled to the US, started school and used the card you brought with you to pay for all the different restaurants you are trying, movies you are watching and groceries you are buying. If you are like my parents, they made you figure out everything beforehand which includes finding a card that can work internationally so you won’t have to pay for the extra charges for international transactions. But what if you found a job on campus (Here you can find all the jobs on campus and here you can find the procedure to get a Social Security Number which would be the next step after you find a job.) For the paycheck to be deposited you need an American bank account. The first step to get an account is to find a suitable bank that will fulfill all your needs. Following is something I found that may help you decide the idle bank account for you.

STEP 2 – Documentation:

Now you have finalized the bank for your account, the next step is to go to figure out the closest bank branch location near you which would be CLU. I opened my account in Bank of America in 2019 back in NY when I first moved to the US, so I will be using BOA as an example. You will find all the information for BOA international student accounts here. Due to the pandemic most banks moved all their processing online, however as an international student it’s a better idea to physically present at the bank
location and provide all the necessary documents. (Yes, keep a bunch of copies of all the documents when you visit.) You may need the following information and documents for the bank account.

1) Home or permanent residence address:
This must include building name or number and street name, city or town, state or province, country.

2) U.S. physical address:
Only one of the following documents is needed:

– Government-issued ID with photo
– Student ID with address and photo
– Current utility bill with your name and address
– Other (rental agreement, etc.)

3 ) Primary ID:
Only one of the following documents is needed:

– Foreign passport with or without passport visa (with photo)
– U.S. Non Immigrant visa and Border Crossing Card-DSP-150 (with photo)
– Mexican, Guatemalan, Dominican, Colombian Consular ID (with photo)
– Canadian Citizenship Certificate Card (with photo)

4) Secondary ID:
Only one of the following documents is needed:

– Foreign driver’s license with photo or U.S. driver’s license
– U.S. student ID validated for current term or school year (with photo)
– Debit or major credit card with Visa® or Mastercard® logo
– Major retail credit card from a nationally well-known company
– U.S. Department of State Diplomat ID
– Mexican Voter Registration Card (with photo)

5) Foreign Tax Identification Number (FTIN):
An FTIN issued by a country other than the U.S. A U.S. TIN/ITN is not required unless you’ve been issued one. For me as I am from India, it was a PAN card. So, it may vary
from country to country.

This is the general documentation you would need, but it may vary from bank to bank. For Bank of America information you can go to this link.

Processing time for each bank may vary and you will receive the confirmation, your
debit card and other information from the bank through email after that. There will be some process to activate the card but it’s just a minor thing and you are good to go. Also, keep track of your account number and routing number. You will also have to
update the routing number and residential address if you move to a different place than you provided on the application. Having the BOA or any other application makes all these processes quite easy. You can also submit the checks online and will not have to deposit it at the bank.

So, there you have it. Most things you need to know for opening a bank account. I feel
light headed, but worth it !! Looking forward to meeting and talking to you all who made it this far. (Which I personally would never have made it to…)

Happy travels and welcome to CLU !!!!!!

By: Samar Salve