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 has registered you in SEVIS (following Orientation or ISSO J-1 Scholar Check-in) before you go to the Social Security Administration Office (SSAO) to submit an application and documents for an 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. ( Note: Oakland University ESL students are not permitted to work and cannot get an SSN)

a. Get an employer’s letter 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, and therefore 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.

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.

Tax Information
Everyone in the United States, regardless of immigration status, must submit an income tax statement to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) each year.

Whether you are an employed or unemployed international student, you are required to file an appropriate return each year you are in United States. 
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.
MI License
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:
    a. If you are employed request a Social Security Letter from the ISSO.
    b. If you do not have a job and, therefore, cannot get an SSN, you must go to the Social Security Administration (SSA) office in Pontiac to get an ineligibility letter, stating that you are NOT eligible for an SSN (i.e. you do not qualify).
    Note: A Social Security ineligibility letter may be used whenever you are asked for your SSN to show that you are not able to get a SSN, allowing you to provide other proof of your identity and legal presence in the U.S. (passport and I-20 or DS-2019, Michigan Driver’s License or ID Card).

  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 (Checklist of Required Documents) and complete the vision check
    c. Take written test of Michigan “rules of the road”
    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 Secretary of State 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