International Students and Scholars

328 O'Dowd Hall
586 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-3358
Fax: (248) 370-3351

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Social Security and Driver's License

Social Security
Please note that all newly arrived students and scholars must wait at least ten business days after the date of your arrival in the United States, and the ISSO must have registered you in SEVIS (following Orientation or ISSO J-1 Scholar Check-in) before you can go to the Social Security Administration Office (SSA) to submit an application and documents for a Social Security Number (SSN).

(If you do not have a job skip to #2)

1. You must have a job or Graduate Assistantship (GA)/ Teaching Assistantship (TA) to apply for an SSN. If you do have a job, please follow the instructions below:  (Note: Oakland University ESL students are not permitted to work and therefore do not qualify for an SSN).

a. Get an offer letter from your employer on official “letterhead” stationery (printed with employer’s company name, logo, address, contact information), which must include the following: 
  • Employer’s signature 
  • Current date 
  • Employee’s name 
  • Employee’s job title 
  • Employee’s start and end dates 
  • Employee’s work hours per week 
b. Two (or more) business days before going to apply for an SSN at the SSA Submit to the ISSO a letter of request form for an ISSO Social Security Eligibility Letter with a copy of your employer’s letters.

c. Go to the Social Security Administration Office (SSA – address below) with required documentation.  Note the following:
  • Be sure to get your SSA Receipt; submit a copy to your employer as evidence that you have applied for your SSN. 
  • Your SSN Card will be sent to you by mail, usually within two weeks of your application. 
  • For jobs at Oakland University, the receipt will allow you to begin work. 
  • However, to receive payment you must submit a copy of your SSN Card to your employer. 
  • Always retain original official documents and make copies of all documents for your files. 
2. If you do not have a job, you cannot get a SSN:

a. A Social Security “ineligibility letter” may be used whenever you are asked for your SSN to show that you are unable to get an SSN, allowing you to provide other proof of your identity and legal presence in the U.S. (passport & I-20 or DS-2019; Michigan Driver’s License or ID Card).

 b. Go to the Social Security Administration Office (SSA – address below) with required documentation to obtain the Social Security Ineligibility Letter.

Social Security Administration Office
1280 Pontiac Rd
Pontiac, MI 48340


Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Wednesday 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

If you are interested in getting a Michigan drivers license, please follow the steps below:
  1. Get proof of your Social Security Number (SSN) if you have a job, or SSN Ineligibility if you do not have a job - see instructions in the Social Security Tab. 

  2. Gather all required documents.

  3. Study the “rules of the road” booklet on the State of Michigan website.

  4. You will go two times to the Secretary of State Office to receive your license. Only go to the Rochester Hills branch office, where the staff is familiar with OU International Students:
    Crooks Corner Plaza
    2250 Crooks Rd
    Rochester Hills, MI 48309
    Hours: Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., and Wed. 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
    Follow these steps at the SOS office:
    a. Complete the “Driver License and ID Card Application” form
    b. Submit all original documents for review, and complete the vision check
    c. Take written test 
    d. Pay fee: Driver’s License = $25.00; Identification (ID) Card = $10.00
    e. Receive a TIP (Temporary Instruction Permit) – Needed for Driving Skills Test & valid for 180 days (six months)
    f. Get the list of local third party testing organizations authorized to issue Driving Skills Certificate

  5. Gain driving experience. Practice driving on Michigan roads to become familiar with lights, signs, road markings, right-of-way, etc. If you present an English translation of your driver's license from your home country, you will not have to wait the required 30 days before taking your driving skills test. Note that you cannot translate your own driver’s license. Michigan does not accept translations of international permits or licenses, so it must be your national driver's license. 

  6. Driving Skills Test
    a. Contact a company/agent on list to schedule a test, fees vary.
    c. A Driving Skills Certificate is issued upon a successful driving test in your car with an agent.

  7. Visit #2 to the Secretary of State Office on Crooks Road:
    a. Bring all original documents (Checklist of Required Documents)
    b. Bring your Temporary Instruction Permit (TIP)
    c. Bring your Driving Skills Certificate
    d. Your picture will be taken and a temporary paper driver’s license will be issued until the actual license comes to you by mail 
Tax Information
Everyone in the United States that is earning income, regardless of immigration status, must submit an income tax statement to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) each year.

In order to take advantage of tax treaty benefits that may be available to you as a foreign student, please contact the Payroll office if you receive a scholarship or get a job during your time at Oakland University.  If you do not contact the Payroll Department, you may be paying additional taxes on your wages or scholarship.
ALL international students must complete the Form 8843, whether you have worked in the United States at all during your stay or not.  The 8843 Form is not related to income, but rather the length of time that you have spent in the United States, it is a very simple, one page form.  More information, including the form, can be found here.