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  • Do I need a US Social Security Number (SSN)?

    Anyone authorized by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work in the US, or is eligible to work incidental to their immigration status, can apply. This includes:

    • J-1 Exchange Visitors
    • J-2 dependents AFTER they have obtained a work authorization (or EAD).

    You are required to apply for the SSN if UAB is paying you; otherwise, there is no obligation to apply

  • How do I obtain a US Social Security number (SSN)?

    To apply, ISSS Office must validate your SEVIS record. This validation takes place after you come to J-1 Scholar Orientation.

    The Social Security Administration in Birmingham is located at:

    1200 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd North
    Birmingham AL 35285

    Open Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM (free parking available).

    Please refer to the ISSS Social Security Number page.

  • Can my J-2 spouse work or volunteer in the US?

    Yes, but only with proper work authorization. Your spouse must apply for an Employment Authorization Document with form I-765 in order to work.

    “Volunteer” work is only applicable to things like helping the local animal rescue shelter, feeding the underprivileged at a local food pantry, or picking vegetables for the farmers market (charitable activities for a non-profit organization).

    Read more information on J-2 work authorization.

  • How do I apply for an Alabama Driver’s License?

    If you do NOT have a social security number (SSN), you must obtain a “proof of denial” from the Social Security Administration in order to apply for a driver license or State ID.

    To learn how to apply and what documents to bring, please visit the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) website and carefully review the list of documents required to apply. The office is located at:

    908 Bankhead Highway
    Birmingham. AL 35204
    Phone: (205 252-7445

    Open Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

    Please refer to the Driver License page.

  • Can I work part time or participate in a clinical trial for compensation?

    As a J-1 scholar, your main purpose in the US is to participate in the program described on your DS-2019. Part time employment outside of your original program is NOT authorized. In addition, we would strongly advise against you participating in clinical trials for compensation. It could be interpreted by DHS (Dept. of Homeland Security) in the future as unauthorized employment and is not worth the risk to your J-1 status. It could also have negative implications for future visa applications.


UAB Procedures

  • How many steps are there until I can have full access to UAB systems once I am on campus?

    It depends… ISSS is not responsible for the entire process. Your Department must also accomplish their share.

    1. Attend a J-1 Orientation in the international center, where we will collect your documents and complete your Form I-9 (if you will be employed by UAB).
    2. Your department is responsible for the onboarding process and must submit the “ACT” document that must be approved before you can create a BlazerID and have computer and lab access.
  • How do I create a BlazerID?

    Once your ACT document is complete, it will generate an employee ID number, which you can use to create your BlazerID.

  • How can I enroll with VIVA UAB for health insurance?

    Not every J-1 Exchange Visitor is eligible for VIVA UAB. It depends on your HR status. Please check with your Department if you are eligible or not.

    When eligible, you have to contact UAB Benefits to learn more about the enrollment process.

  • What about the immunizations?

    To be able to access labs on campus and depending on the nature of your research, you are required to provide proof of immunizations.

    This requirement is handle directly by UAB Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). You must complete an enrollment form together with your supervisor at UAB before your arrival at UAB. If not, please do so as soon as possible.

    Please follow the instructions listed on the 1st page of the enrollment form and communicate directly with EHS Department.

    ISSS office is not authorized to receive any copy of your medical records or vaccination, please send them directly to EHS.

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