Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine >> Administration >> Tips for New Staff: >> Visa , SSN, Permanent Residency

Tips for New Staff:
Visa, Social Security Number, Permanent Residency


The central administrative staff will be in charge of organizing your visa before you come, and also in renewing visas. This process requires substantial lead time (5 to 6 months). The type of visa is usually chosen by the Chairman in conjunction with the advice he gets from the appropriate immigration experts in the University system. If there is any need to get documents organized or exams to take, please do this early. The staff does not mind getting contacted about any difficulties. For assistance, please contact Sheri Tokunaga, phone number: (206) 543-2673, or email

Spouse's Visa

Visiting faculty are normally sponsored on H-1B visas. The spouse of the worker on an H-1B is issued an H-4 status which does not allow the spouse to work. A useful side effect of having a J-1 visa is that the spouse is able to get a J-2 which allows them to work with permission from the INS, within the time constraints of the person who is working in the anesthesia job. This can be organized from within the U.S. after arrival but may be possible to organize before coming. Please consult with the U.S. consulate in your home country.

Social Security Number

The Social Security Number is one of the most important documents issued to an individual by the U.S. government. The Social Security Number indicates that you are a legal alien. After having received all the necessary documents from your employer, such as the employment contract, the first thing to do is to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). The application form for the Social Security Number is available online or at any Social Security Office. Please do this in the first week as it takes about three to four weeks to process.

Social Security Administration:, 1-800-772-1213
To locate the nearest office, use

In Downown Seattle, the office is at 901 Lenora, Suite 100 Seattle Wa 98121
Office Phone: (800) 772-1213; Office Hours: Monday to Friday: 0900-1600

You will not be issued a Washington State Medical License until you have a social security number.

You must be very careful about disclosing your Social Security Number to anybody, because that is one of the main sources of identity theft. Very few institutions are entitled to ask for the full Social Security Number. Many institutions may ask for the last four digits of the Social Security Number for verification purposes.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is on the rise in the United States. The best protection is to shred all items containing personal information once you are finished with them. Valuable information about how to protect yourself from identity theft, as well as other issues, can be obtained from the Federal Citizen Information Center,

Photo Identity

Most institutions may require a photo identity (photo ID) from a person for a transaction. One can carry one's passport around all the time or get an American photo identity. A Washington State driver's license and Identification Card are accepted as photo ID. It is strongly advisable to get a photo ID as you will be asked to show photo identification for such diverse and routine activities as renting a video or buying alcohol at the supermarket.

Washington Identification Card

The Department of Licensing issues photo identification cards to non-drivers for a fee of $15.00 for an original. Identification cards can be issued at any age and are valid for 5 years. Duplicate identification cards are $15.00. You must show the same identification as required for a driver license. The required documentation is available on the Washington State Department of Licensing website,

Permanent Residency

The "Green Card" is the popular name for the permanent residency status of a non-US citizen in the United States. The "Green Card" is a credit card-sized plastic card which is now beige in color. In order to obtain a "Green Card", one has to be "sponsored", either by an American national, for instance, through marriage, or an American institution or corporation through permanent employment. The only exception is the "Diversity Visa Lottery", also called the "Green Card Lottery", which raffles off 50,000 Green Cards annually to eligible individuals from eligible countries. For information on the next "Diversity Visa Lottery", please check the website of the U.S. Department of State,

Law firms will advertise their services for completion of the participation documents for the annual "Diversity Visa Lottery" for a fee. Although it is at each individual's discretion to use those services, this is not really necessary or proper completion of a participation form. The participation form requirements are deliberately designed for ease of use, in order to give each individual from an eligible country the chance to successfully participate in the "Diversity Visa Lottery".