GeorgiaAvenue

Foreign Nationals

Welcome to Mobile! We are happy to have you in our community and want your experience here to be enjoyable.

 

Living in a new country can be daunting. Following you will find resources to help you navigate life in Alabama. Whether you are applying for a driver’s license, registering your children for school or in need of medical care, the information in the following pages will help you get started.

 

Getting Started in the United States


 

A Social Security card is required of all applicants who have been assigned a number and/or are eligible for the assignment of a Social Security number (SSN) by the Social Security Administration.

 

You will need to obtain a Social Security number before you can complete other necessary transactions for life in the United States – for instance, obtaining a Driver’s License and opening a bank account.

 

Your transition into the U.S. will flow more smoothly if you can handle your transactions in the following order:

 

  • Obtain a Social Security Number (You should be in the United States for 7-10 days before applying for a Social Security Number to be sure your immigration status can be confirmed online. You will need a U.S. address in order to obtain a Social Security card.) *If you are not eligible to work in the United States, or for some other reason are ineligible for a SSN, you must obtain a letter from the Social Security Administration stating your ineligibility. This letter will be necessary as you navigate life in the United States.
  • Open a Bank Account.
  • Buy/Lease Housing.
  • Obtain your Alabama Driver’s License (A temporary visitor – who will be in country for less than 160 days – may drive with an international driver’s license for up to 90 days. Once you establish a residence in Alabama, you have 30 days to obtain your driver’s license.)
  • Buy/Lease an automobile.

 

Following are required documents completing these transactions.

 

To obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) or letter of ineligibility for a SSN, you must present to the Social Security Administration office you are visiting:

 

  • A completed Social Security Number application.
  • A valid foreign passport with an acceptable visa or resident alien card.
  • Valid I-94 arrival/departure record issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • A confirmation of employment letter from your employer can be helpful when opening bank accounts, obtaining a Social Security Number, etc.
  • A U.S. address
  • An international driver’s license may be accepted as identification.

 

You should be in the United States for 7-10 days before applying for a Social Security Number to be sure your immigration status can be confirmed online.

 

Location of Social Security Office(s) in the Mobile Region

 

Mobile County:

550 Government Street, Suite 100

Mobile, AL 36602

1 (866) 593-1922

Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday 9:00 a.m.– 12:00 p.m.

 

Baldwin County:

101 Courthouse Drive

Fairhope, AL 36532

1-866-837-5964

Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9:00 a.m.– 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday 9:00 a.m.– 12:00 p.m.

 

More information can be found here regarding obtaining a Social Security Number.

 

To obtain an Alabama Driver’s License, you must present the following documents:

 

  • A valid foreign passport with an acceptable visa or resident alien card.
  • Valid I-94 arrival/departure record issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • Social Security number verification or letter from Social Security stating non-eligibility.
  • Proof of Alabama residence.
  • A written English translation of the information on your foreign driver’s license.
  • $5 test or transfer fee plus cost of license (no checks); approximately $30.

 

Foreign Nationals should request to take their written driver’s examination in their native language. The computer will return pass/fail message at end of examination. Do not accept this answer as final – confirm with a window agent whether you passed or failed the examination. The computer is not always accurate.

 

See Automobiles\Driver’s License, Step to Obtaining for more detailed information.

 

Opening Bank Accounts

 

 

It can be difficult to open a bank account without a U.S. address. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to acquire housing without a bank account. When opening a bank account, the following documents may be required:

  • A valid foreign passport with an acceptable visa or resident alien card.
  • Valid I-94 arrival/departure record issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • Social Security number verification or letter from Social Security stating non-eligibility.
  • A confirmation of employment letter.
  • A U.S. address.

 

See Banking and Finance for more detailed information.

Automobiles


Obtaining a driver’s license or non-driver identification card, registering a vehicle or obtaining a tag, and even current road conditions are described in the information below.

Driver’s License, Steps to Obtaining

Operating Automobiles in Alabama

Leasing or Purchasing an Automobile

Banking and Finance

The Mobile area offers foreign nationals a number of banking options. Identification requirements are important to understand and are described in this section. Some banks have programs tailored especially for your needs, including deposit accounts, credit cards, debit cards, mortgages, auto loans and currency exchange.

 

Opening Bank Accounts
It can be difficult to open a bank account without a U.S. address. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to acquire housing without a bank account. When opening a bank account, the following documents may be required:

  • A valid foreign passport with an acceptable visa or resident alien card.
  • Valid I-94 arrival/departure record issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • Social Security number verification or letter from Social Security stating non-eligibility.
  • A confirmation of employment letter.
  • A U.S. address.

 

Banks with programs tailored for Foreign Nationals

 

BancorpSouth

Kristin Peterson

Dauphin/65 Branch

3290-B Dauphin Street

Mobile, AL 36606

Work (251) 304-1362

www.bancorpsouthonline.com

Offers: Deposit accounts, credit cards, debit cards, mortgages, auto loans, currency exchange with short delay.

 

BB&T Bank

Myriam De La Ossa or Philip Navarro

736 Hillcrest Road

Mobile, AL 36695

Work (251) 287-9204

Fax (251) 639-7129

www.bbt.com

Offers: Deposit accounts (checking, savings, money markets), credit cards, debit cards, mortgages and auto loans with required credit history from home country. Offers currency exchange with 2-3 business day delay.

 

BBVA Compass Bank

Jahn Paton

1 S. Royal St.

Mobile, Al 36602

work) 251-470-7461

cell) 251-401-6136

www.bbvacompass.com

Offers: Deposit accounts, credit cards, debit cards, mortgages, auto loans, currency exchange with short delay.

 

Hancock/Whitney Banking Group

Susan Wilkinson, Global Trade Services

50 N. Royal St.

Mobile, AL  36602

Work (251) 662-1025

Fax (251) 694-3916

www.hancockbank.com or www.whitneybank.com

Offers: Based on whether the foreign national has a Social Security Number (SSN), green card or Visa, these accounts may be available: Deposit accounts, credit cards, debit cards, mortgages and auto loans. Offers currency exchange immediately or next business day.

 

For a complete listing of member banking institutions, link to the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce member directory and search by keyword “Banks”

Cell Phones

Obtaining a cell phone in the United States may present some challenges. The information provided below should help you navigate the process with minimum difficulty.

 

AT&T

Offers SIM cards to be used in unlocked phones with prepaid or monthly accounts. To purchase a new phone and/or service, a foreign national would need to provide two forms of acceptable identification, such as a U.S. issued ID, passport or pay stub. Not having an established credit history in the U.S. can result in a large deposit being required, however deposits on these customers can be waived at the discretion of the Market Designee. AT&T’s credit policies are no different for international customers as they are an international company. Any foreign national experiencing a problem should contact Glyn Agnew, regional director, at 205-470-0553.

 

AT&T

3730 Airport Blvd.

Mobile, AL 36608

(251) 450-3561

 

C Spire

C Spire offers devices and wireless service to foreign nationals upon assurance of the identification and creditworthiness of the individual, as deemed acceptable by C Spire. Individuals are encouraged to contact their designated C Spire representative, Phillip McKibbin, at 251.445.6507, or pmckibbin@cspire.com, to facilitate the process of approval.

 

C Spire

251-445-6507

 

For a complete listing of member cell phone providers, link to the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce member directory and search by keyword “Cellular” or “Wireless Communications”

Conversions

Measurements in the United States may be different from your home country. This easy guide to conversions can assist you.

 

Length, Temperature, Speed, Volume, Weight, Cooking, Area, Fuel Economy, Currency and much more.

Education

The Mobile area offers excellent public and private educational opportunities beginning in pre-kindergarten through university doctoral programs. Schools in the United States may operate differently than your home country, and sources are available to answer your questions about those differences.

 

Life and Work – Education page          

                                            

Understanding American Schools: The Answers to Newcomers’ most Frequently Asked Questions

This valuable book guides newcomers from around the world through the challenges of understanding the U.S. school system, from pre-school through high school. Written by two internationally-known experts in international relocation and education, this thorough but user-friendly guide is packed with information not found in any other single source. Order from www.interchangeinstitute.org/html/schools.htm.

English Second Language Classes

German Guide to Alabama

Though written with the German foreign national in mind, this publication is an excellent resource for any foreign national moving into and working in Alabama. The German Guide to Alabama is a publication of the Alabama Germany Partnership, and is composed to help new-to-Alabama Germans become acclimated to their new home.

German Guide to Alabama

 

Healthcare

Mobile is a regional center for medical care, research and education, including hospitals dedicated to children and women, mental health, rehabilitation, cancer research and general medical services; regional military hospitals and many outpatient and other clinics.

 

Work and Live – Healthcare section

 

Find a Doctor in Mobile County

Medical Society of Mobile County

Infirmary Health

Providence Hospital

Spring Hill Medical Center

University of South Alabama Health System

 

Find a Doctor in Baldwin County

Find a Doctor Baldwin County

 

Find Hospitals Mobile

Mobile Infirmary

Providence Hospital

Springhill Medical Center

University of South Alabama Hospital

 

Find Hospitals Baldwin County

Thomas Hospital

South Baldwin Regional Medical Center

North Baldwin Infirmary

Holidays

Holidays in the United States celebrate everything from our nation’s history and anniversaries of our forefathers’ births, to Mothers’ and Fathers’ days, religious festivals and many others. State and local holidays vary around the U.S., and Mobile in particular is known for its family-friendly Mardi Gras season.

 

Federal Holidays

State Holidays

Mobile County Holidays

Baldwin County Holidays

Mobile County Public School System Holidays

Baldwin County Public School System Holidays

Identification For Individuals

Understanding forms of identification necessary to conduct business, drive a car or purchase a home is essential to getting started in your new environment.

Identification For Individuals

Obtaining a Social Security Number

Real Estate

Many services are available to help you find a home or apartment, or answers to your questions about our neighborhoods and area schools. A real estate professional is ready to assist you.

 

Work and Live – Real Estate section

Relocation Support Services

You may choose to engage a professional relocation specialist to assist you in becoming acquainted with your new home.

 

Global Resettlement Services LLC, Mia Burmeister (251) 422-0321 Mia@HomesINTLViaMia.com (International Real Estate Transactions)

 

Relocation Support Services International LLC, Brigitte Kemnade (251) 661-8982 bkemnade@aol.com

Sports

Mobile’s climate offers year-round opportunities to enjoy sports ranging from golf, soccer, baseball, cycling to water sports and many, many more. Excellent public and private facilities are available around the Mobile area.

 

Guide to Mobile/Sports pgs. 24-25 plus:

 

City of Mobile Athletic Programming

YMCA of South Alabama

Mobile and Baldwin County schools have athletic programs. See “Education” and search particular school.

Mobile Soccer Club

Mobile Bay FC (soccer)

Baldwin County Trailblazers (biking, walking, running)

Mobile County Trails (biking, walking, running)

Mobilians on Bikes

Mobile Velo

Slow Bike Society Eastern Shore

Golfing in Alabama

Tourist Information

There is plenty to do in Mobile, and if you have time to visit more of Alabama, you will find diverse landscapes and a myriad of opportunities to explore.

 

http://alabama.travel/

http://www.deep-south-usa.com/alabama

Translation Services

Professional and online translation services are at your fingertips.

 

LBP Interpreting Inc.

Lori Pituk, President

(251) 463-6629

 

http://www.freetranslation.com/

http://translate.google.com/

http://www.flstranslation.com/

Working in the United States

If you choose to join the workforce in the United States, there are some things you need to know.

 

http://answers.usa.gov/system/templates/selfservice/USAGov/#!portal/1012/article/4083/Employment-Foreign-Nationals