When you arrive in the USA you should take steps immediately to establish your identity in this country, including getting proper identification (ID) and starting a credit history. The sooner you get established the sooner you can explore options that open up to those with a fully-fledged identity.
Social Security Number (SS# or SSN)
A Social Security Number is very helpful in the U.S. to get credit, telephone service, etc. However, the U.S. Government has limited the ability of students to get an SSN. Therefore, most international students (except those few on a sponsored J-1 visa) begin the process by getting the Social Security Denial Letter and use that in place of an SSN whenever possible. The Denial Letter can be used to get a California driver's license, rent an apartment, and participate in many of the other activities that require a SSN. Later in the school year, if you get a part-time job offer, you can apply for an SSN. Until then, ask current international students or members of the International Business Association to share ways to help you address challenges that might arise from not having a SSN.
The Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars (DCISS), can help you with the process of obtaining a Social Security Denial Letter. Follow their instructions to apply for an SSN with the U.S. government. The Denial Letter will be sent to you shortly after you apply. If necessary, you can use the MBA Admissions Office address (110 Westwood Plaza, Gold Hall - Suite B201, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481).
After receiving the Denial Letter, some students (such as those receiving financial aid) should then apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). The Dashew Center will advise you on that application after you receive your Denial Letter.
Two of the largest banks in Los Angeles are Bank of America and Citibank. You can open an account without an SSN in these banks, although you will need to provide documents to prove your identity.
Your bank will likely issue you a VISA debit/ATM card (not a credit card), which you can use to withdraw cash and make purchases in stores. This will not count toward your credit history, and you will need to have sufficient funds in the account to complete transactions.
Often, you can use your credit card in the U.S. for purchases as long as it is internationally recognized (VISA, MasterCard, American Express, etc.). However, use of your international credit card does not build U.S. credit history, which you will need later for things like financing a car purchase or applying for a mortgage.
Driving in California
A California driver license serves as your official identification ("ID") during your two years in Los Angeles. See the Getting Settled section for information on obtaining a driver license as well as purchasing a car and insurance.
Working in the U.S.
If you are planning on working in the U.S. during the summer between your first and second year at UCLA Anderson, temporary work authorization can be obtained under the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) program. UCLA Anderson deems CPT to be part of the curriculum, but students are not eligible for CPT until after completing the first year of the MBA program.
Employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time CPT regardless of whether the student is enrolled full-time or part-time. Students who receive one year or more of full-time CPT are ineligible for post-graduation Optional Practical Training (OPT). Part-time CPT does not limit post-graduation OPT. UCLA Anderson's Parker Career Management Center and the UCLA Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars (DCISS) must both review and endorse all CPT and OPT requests.
Please check with the Parker Career Management Center for more information on CPT and OPT after you arrive at UCLA Anderson.