After You Arrive

Moving to the United States can be an exciting experience, but getting settled in can take some time.  Below are some helpful tips to get you started after you arrive.  

Social Security Number

A social security number (SSN) is an identifying number that many companies/agencies may ask you to provide when trying to obtain services. While any company/agency can generally provide you with the service you are trying to obtain without an SSN, having one can potentially make obtaining services easier. In fact, some agencies will require you to pay an initial refundable deposit or pay in full up front in lieu of presenting an SSN.

If you are interested in obtaining a SSN, anyone in the J-1 Scholar program is eligible to receive one.

Applying for the SSN is free, but the application process will require a few hours. You will need to present the following documents when you go to the Social Security Administration:

Learn more about social security numbers.

Opening a Bank Account

Opening a local bank account will allow you to potentially access your funds more quickly and may help in financial transactions like signing a lease.

To open an account, you will want to bring the following to a bank:

  • Passport with visa stamp
  • Form DS-2019 (J1 students/researchers/scholars only)
  • I-94 record
  • Form W-8BEN

In completing the W-8BEN form:

  • Use your full legal name as it is stated in your passport (no nicknames)
  • For section entitled “Permanent Address,” use your foreign permanent address
  • For section entitled “Mailing Address,” use your local US address
  • For section entitled “Form W-8BEN Letter of Explanation of US Address,” write the following:   “I am a scholar researching/teaching at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center with a valid J-1 visa and Form DS-2019. I started my program on ____ (initial date of attendance) and expect to finish ____ (estimated date of completion).”  

There is a Wells Fargo bank located at the Medical Center, though you can open an account with any bank you choose.

Driver’s License or ID

As a scholar at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, you are eligible to obtain an NC driver’s license or NC state ID card. Applications for both are processed at the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Both serve as official forms of identification. We recommend obtaining at least one of the two so that you won’t need to carry your passport with you.

If you are looking to obtain a car during your stay, you will need to get a driver’s license.  Steps to obtaining a driver’s license or ID can be found on the North Carolina DMV website.

Buying and Registering a Car

If you are interested in purchasing a car during your stay, you have a number of options to buy from.  You can buy new or used, but in both cases, you will need to register the vehicle once you have decided on a car to buy.

Registration Steps

Step 1: Obtain an NC driver’s license/state ID card.

Step 2: Gather Documents

  • Title that has been properly signed and notarized
  • NC driver’s license or state ID card
  • Proof of liability insurance (The liability insurance will likely need to be transitioned to an owner’s policy/full coverage policy for the car.)

Step 3: Pay Additional Fees

  • Certificate of Title
  • License Plate
  • One-time State Road Tax: 3% of purchase price or value of car
  • All fees must be paid either with cash or check/money order

Step 4: Road Tax

In 2-3 months, you will receive another bill from Forsyth County for 3% of purchase price for road tax. You must pay this as well. You will receive this bill every year you own a car that is registered in NC.

Please contact Pamela Melton at should you have any questions.