North Park University - Chicago North Park University - Chicago

Office of International Affairs

Life in the United States

Student life in the United States may be different from what you have experienced in your home country, or another country in which you may have studied.

Work Authorization

As an international student, you were granted a visa for the primary purpose of study, so your employment opportunities may be limited to on-campus work or positions that further your academic training.

Social Security Number

Social Security numbers serve as personal identification numbers in the United States. They are also required before a person may be paid for employment.

As an international individual, you must have a job before applying for a Social Security number.

If you have been hired for on-campus employment, you’ll have to complete some paperwork to apply for your Social Security card.

It takes approximately two weeks after the date of application to receive a Social Security card in the mail. Unfortunately, you cannot get paid for your work until you have received your Social Security card, so start this process as soon as you’ve found a job.

SSN Application

SSN Info Sheet

Bank Account

Many banks in the United States require patrons to have a Social Security number before opening an account. Several banks near North Park’s campus do not have this requirement. You will receive details at International Student Orientation.

Driver’s License

In order to apply for a regular Illinois driver’s license, you must have a Social Security number.

If you don’t have a Social Security number, you may drive using a valid driver’s license from your home country for one year. In certain circumstances, you may also be eligible for a Temporary Visitor’s Driver’s License (TVDL).

You may have an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) from your home country. The IDP is a translation of your home-country driver’s license; it does not constitute a legal driver’s license by itself.


How to Apply

Illinois DMV

Health Insurance

J-1 Visa Holders: The U.S. Department of State requires all J-1 visa holders to have adequate health insurance during their stay in the United States. Due to this requirement. North Park will automatically bill and enroll al J-1 visa holders in the North Park sponsored health insurance policy. You will have an opportunity to apply for a waiver if you have proof of insurance that meets the minimum standards set by the U.S. Department of State which are:

Type of Coverage                                       Federal Minimum Required Insurance 

Medical Benefits                                              $100,000

Repatriation of Remains                                  $25,000

Medical Evacuation                                         $50,000

Deductible per accident or illness                   $500

F-1 Visa Holders: It is strongly encouraged that you purchase the health insurance policy offered by North Park, however, you may purchase your own plan and submit proof that it meets the minimums listed above.

To purchase North Park’s health insurance please contact the Office of International Affairs.

Travel Signatures

If you will leave the United States while you are a student, you will need a travel validation signature on your Form I-20 or DS-2019. Each travel signature is valid for 12 months. If a new signature is needed, contact:

  • Sumie Song, Director of the Office of International Affairs (Johnson Center, first floor)
  • Ida Hiben, Assistant Director of the Office of International Affairs (Johnson Center, first floor)