Important Information for International Students Before Their Trip to the United States - Shorter University

Before coming to the United States, check out the following links for important information.

All information for studying in the United States can be found here:

Embassy Info


Getting a visa:


Click Here

Airport Security & Information

Tips for Students and Exchange Visitors Upon Arriving at a U.S. Port of Entry

USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) Forms & Application Status

Travel Issues

Port of Entry Fact Sheet

The 30-day period before program start date

F-1 students may be admitted to the United States no more than 30 days before the program start date that is stated in SEVIS and in the Form I-20.


Am I eligible to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN)?

Government Releases New Social Security Regulations for F-1 Students
On December 16, 2003, the Social Security Administration (SSA) released a proposed regulation changing the Social Security Number (SSN) issuance procedures for international students in F-1 immigration status. The changes are not actually new. Rather, they are the codification of long-standing local SSA practices.

Under the new proposed regulations, without a valid employment authorization document issued by the USCIS, SSA now requires an F-1 student to prove that he or she has secured a job before the agency will issue a Social Security number. According to the SSA, this increased evidentiary requirement is being proposed to reduce the opportunity for fraud and to prevent the misuse of SSNs.

In the past, the fact that an F-1 student was eligible for on-campus employment was sufficient for SSN issuance. Nevertheless, despite the lack of authority in the regulations, many local SSA offices were insisting on evidence of a secured position, or at least a pending job offer, before accepting SSN applications from F-1 students. The proposed rule codifies this longstanding, but controversial requirement.

According to SSA regulation 20 CFR 422.107, in order to apply for a SSN, a non-citizen must prove that he or she was admitted to the United States by USCIS in a status that is authorized for employment. Because they are not (and cannot be) authorized to work, SSA consistently denied SSNs to non-immigrants in the B, F-2, H-4, etc. statuses due to this regulation.

Because F-1 students are authorized to work on-campus incident to their status, the SSA in the past required only proof of their valid F-1 status before issuing a SSN. Nevertheless, some local SSA offices were requiring either an authorization from the designated school official (DSO) of the student, authorizing the student for on-campus employment, or proof of a secured on-campus position or a pending job offer before issuing the number. According to the new rules, an F-1 student, in addition to proving his or her lawful F status, must also demonstrate:

  1. An unexpired USCIS employment authorization document (EAD); OR
  2. Evidence that:
    1. the student has authorization from his/her school to engage in employment, and
    2. the student is engaging in, or has secured, employment

To meet the second requirement, the F-1 student must submit a letter from his/her DSO and employer. According to the proposed language of 20 CFR 422.107(e)(2), an F-1 student first must offer evidence from his/her DSO that he/she is authorized for employment. Then the student must offer documentation from the DSO that states:

  1. The nature of the employment that the student is/will be engaged in, AND
  2. The identification of the employer for whom the student is/will be working.

In addition to a letter from the DSO, the student must also offer evidence of employment. The student must provide documentation proving that he/she is engaging in, or has secured employment (e.g., a statement from the student’s employer).

The SSA states that the increased evidentiary burden is necessary for fraud prevention purposes and to protect the “integrity of the social security number system.” Also, the SSA stated that they are trying to prevent the misuse of the SSNs by refusing to issue numbers to students without secured employment since “they do not intend to work but need an SSN to obtain goods or services in the community.” Even though in practice Social Security numbers are an essential requirement and an integral part of our daily lives, the SSA has always emphasized that SSNs are for employment purposes only, and all of the other uses are incidental to their primary purpose.

The proposed regulations were published in the Federal Register on December 16, 2003.

What documentation do I need to bring to the Social Security office?

You will need the following items:

  • Passport
  • I-20
  • Employment Verification Form (you can get this from the Office of International Programs)

Where is the Social Security office in Rome, Georgia located?

Social Security Office
480 Riverside Parkway
Rome, GA 30161

Phone Numbers:

TTY: 706-291-9957
Office Hours:
Monday 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Tuesday 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Wednesday 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thursday 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Friday 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed
Closed on Federal holidays

How do taxes work?

You are required to pay taxes as an F1 student . This charge will appear at the middle of the semester in your student account. You need to pay this and other charges before you can enroll for classes for the following semester.

Why do you need to pay taxes?
  • It is the law. If you have had more tax withheld than you owe, you can get a refund.
  • Whatever amount that you receive as Scholarship by Shorter that exceeds the cost of tuition and board is considered by the U.S. Government as INCOME. Therefore, that difference is taxable.
  • Every year before April 15, you will fill out forms in order to file for taxes (like everybody else) and if the amount of taxes that you paid throughout the year is more than what you actually owed, you will get a REFUND.
  • We’ll offer workshops to help you fill out these tax forms…so no worries!
  • For more international student information, contact the Office of International Programs at (800) 868-6980, ext. 7409 or

What about medical insurance?

  • It’s not required that all of our international students have health insurance, however, we highly recommend it.
  • This video teaches international students how to prepare for their arrival in the US, how the US healthcare system works and how students should seek medical care appropriately if they become sick or injured. Watch here
  • Shorter University does not provide health insurance for its international students (non-athletes), however, students should get in touch with the office of International Programs to get information about different health insurance options.
  • International Student athletes are covered by Shorter University’s athletic health insurance for athletic injuries only.
  • To learn about the insurance requirements for athletes, please use the following link:
    Insurance for Athletes
  • For general health related inquiries , please contact the office of Health Services:

Do I need a Georgia’s Driver License?

The Department of Motor Vehicle Services (DMVS), formerly known as the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has once again changed names. The new name is the Department of Driver Services (DDS).

DDS has published a new set of documentary requirements for the issuance of a Georgia driver’s license. In short, a letter from the school will no longer be acceptable to prove address in Georgia.
The good news is that international students may not need to get a Georgia driver’s license at all.
The specific provision can be found on page 147 of Title 40 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) at 40-5-21(b) O.C.G.A. (b) Notwithstanding any contrary provisions of Code Section 40-5-20 or subsection (a) of this Code section, a nonresident of this state who is attending a school in this state shall be exempt from the driver’s licensing requirements of this chapter if and only if:

  1. He or she is at least 16 years of age and has in his or her immediate possession a valid license issued to him or her in his or her home state or country; provided, however, that any restrictions which would apply to a Georgia driver’s license as a matter of law would apply to the privilege afforded to the out-of-state license; and
  2. He or she is currently enrolled in a school in this state, has paid for the current period of enrollment the tuition charged by the school to nonresidents of Georgia, and has in his or her possession proof of payment of such tuition for such current period of enrollment.

In short, an international student DOES NOT NEED TO GET A GEORGIA DRIVER’S LICENSE as long as he/she is registered as a student in a school in Georgia, and has paid his/her tuition for that semester/term.

If the student has a driver’s license of a classification that would allow him/her to drive the particular vehicle in question, and does not have a valid Georgia Driver’s License, then he/she should while driving have in his/her possession:

  1.  The foreign driver’s license
  2. His/her student ID card or proof of registration
  3. Proof of payment of tuition for that term/semester
  4. A copy of this particular citation from the O.C.G.A.

Of course, students would probably benefit from getting a Georgia ID card (opening a bank account, etc.). Info on how to obtain one can be found at