J-1 Scholars

A Social Security number is intended to accurately record your earnings in this country. J-1 scholars are eligible for Social Security Numbers provided that they have the J-1 sponsor's permission to work.

Social security numbers are needed for:

Employment- Social Security Numbers are issued for employment purposes. If you will be employed by University of Iowa as a J-1 scholar, you will need to apply for a social security number. Please note that employment must be authorized in advance by the J-1 scholar's program sponsor.

Social security numbers are NOT needed for:

  • Banking- J-1 Scholars do not need a Social Security number to open a bank account or for most other financial transactions. The bank may ask ;J-visa holders to fill out Internal Revenue Service form W-8BEN to prove that they are exempt from the requirement of providing a Social Security number.
  • Driver's License- Although some states require that you have a Social Security number in order to obtain a driver's license, the State of Iowa does not have such a requirement. Therefore, you do not need a Social Security number to obtain a driver's license in Iowa.

Applying for a Social Security Card

  1. Scholars should wait at least 10 days after your arrival and 3 business days after your ISSS check-in session. Applying too early may result in denial because the Social Security Administration's database may not be updated with the scholar's information.
  2. Scholars must take your immigration documents (passport, I-94, and DS-2019) to the Social Security Administration Office, located at 1100 6th St in Coralville.
  3. Take the social security card to your sponsoring department so the Human Resources representative can update your I-9 record with this number.


An ITIN is an Individual Tax Identification Number. This number is different from a Social Security Number which is used by the individual who worked in the U.S. and earned income and is filing a tax return. This number is an alternative option for scholars and/or dependents who earned income during the tax year, but are not eligible for a social security number. It is also used to identify the dependents of the person filing a tax return. There are only a few cases where scholars can claim dependents on their tax return. If you are eligible to claim your dependents on your tax return, you should bring your completed tax return forms to the ISSS along with the passports/I-94s and I-20/DS2019s for yourself, spouses and children. Our receptionist will make copies of needed documents, notarize them and put them into an envelope that she will seal and stamp so that the IRS knows this has not been opened and changed.