Practical Information

Travel

Before travelling outside of the United States F-1 students should have page 3 of the I-20 signed by an international student adviser. Travel signatures are vaild for one year. It is also important to plan ahead to acquire any visas that might be required by the countries you will travel to or through.  

F-1 visa holders may travel within the United States without obtaining special permission but should always be sure to carry their valid passport and I-20 with them.

Social Security Number

A Social Security Number is an identification card and number that is issued by the U.S. government. You are required to have a social security number in order to work in the U.S. Additionally, other institutions such as banks and cell phone companies often use this as an official form of identification. International students holding F-1 visas can apply for a social security number (SSN) only when they provide proof that they have been offered a job on campus and also provide evidence of age, identity, a valid I-20 form, and a current I-94 showing the F-1 status. Students are required to apply for social security numbers in person. The social security cards are usually mailed to the students approximately 2 weeks after a student applies. 

The Office of Intercultural Relations will provide transportation options for students to the Social Security Administration (SSA) office each semester. If you are not able to attend the scheduled trips to the SSA you will need to arrange your own means of travel. Two SSA offices are located in the surrounding area:

Waukegan Social Security Administration Office

Evanston Social Security Administration Office (accessible by the Metra at the Evanston Central stop)

You will need to take the following documents to the SSA in order to apply for a Social Security Number:

  • Immigration documents: Passport, I-20, I-94 card
  • Employment Verification Letter
  • Enrollment Verification Letter from Intercultural Relations
  • Social Security Number Application 

Illinois State ID Card

This card is issued by the Illinois Secretary of State. A state ID card or driver’s license is also useful in providing proof of age. To receive the ID you must apply in person at the Illinois Secretary of State’s office. 

The Office of Intercultural Relations will provide transportation options for students to the Illinois Secretary of State office each semester. If you are not able to attend the scheduled trips, you will need to arrange your own means of travel. You can find a list of local offices at the Secretary of State’s facility finder.

The following documents are required:

  • Bring your Social Security Card, passport, I-94 card, I-20 and 2 documents with proof of your local Lake Forest address. This proof may be a piece of mail addressed to your Lake Forest address (e.g., phone bill or bank statement).
  • Obtaining an Illinois State ID costs $20.00, which must be paid at the time of application.

Illinois Driver’s License

  • To drive in the U.S., you must have a valid driver’s license issued by the state in which you live. To apply for a license:
  • Visit an Illinois Secretary of State’s Office. Make sure it offers driver’s license services. Locations and services can be found at Chicago and Vicinity Driver Facilities.
  • Bring your Social Security Card, passport, I-94 card, I-20 and proof of your local Chicago address. This proof may be a piece of mail addressed to your Chicago address (e.g., phone bill or bank statement).
  • Obtaining a driver’s license costs $30.00, which must be paid at the time of application.
  • You will be required to take vision and written tests and to have your photograph taken. For information on road rules and regulations in the state of Illinois see the Rules of the Road.
  • You will be required to take a driving test if you do not have a driver’s license from another U.S. state. You must take the test in your own or a friend’s vehicle.

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