The University of Iowa

Social Security Number & ITIN Information (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.

Do I Need a Social Security Number?

Social Security Numbers are issued for employment purposes. If you will be employed by Univesity 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.

How to Apply for a Social Security Card

  1. Wait at least 10 days after your arrival and 2 business days after your ISSS orientation session.
  2. Take your immigration documents (passport, I-94, and DS-2019) to the Social Security Administration Office.
    Social Security Administration Office
    1100 6th Street,
    Coralville, IA 52241
    Telephone: (319) 338-9461 or 1-800-772-1213
    Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday
  3. Take the social security card to your sponsoring department so the Human Resources representative can update your I-9 record with this number.

What is an ITIN?

An ITIN is an Individual Tax Identification Number.  This number is different from a Social Security Number used by individuals earning a U.S. income and filing a U.S. tax return.  This number is an alternative option for students and/or dependents who receive fellowship or scholarship funding 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 students and scholars can claim dependents on their tax return. ISSS advisors are not able to assist with applications for an ITIN. In many cases students/scholars will be able to apply for an ITIN simultaneously with filing their tax return in Spring. Students and Scholars can contact the VITA program at sends e-mail)for more information on this process. Please also review the ITIN information on the IRS site(link is external) about how to apply for an ITIN.