International Employees

We would like to welcome all of our foreign national visitors and their families to Idaho National Laboratory. A growing number of foreign nationals at INL are making important contributions to the success of the lab. They come to INL from many nations.

When you are offered employment, you will receive a questionnaire from the INL Human Resources & Diversity (HR&D) department that identifies the information needed to draft an I-129 petition for an H-1B employment visa. Upon your acceptance of the appointment, the HR&D Immigration Coordinator will contact you as we process your petition.

While in the U.S., you must monitor your immigration status carefully. It is in your very best interest to remain totally and continually cognizant of your status and to monitor progress being made on any changes to or extensions of that status.

Extensions of your H-1B visa need to be started six months before the end date of your current H-1B visa. Work with the HR&D Immigration Coordinator (contact information below) in order to have the I-129 filed in a timely manner.

Your spouse (wife or husband) who may not be working outside the home, and your dependent children may often be faced with an experience quite different from yours. Your work will usually keep you quite busy and away from home all day. This can be a lonely, isolating experience for the accompanying spouse and can be a difficult situation for everyone. This situation can be improved if your spouse is able to participate in activities on his or her own. Even if your spouse is not able to work, a number of possible activities and organizations are available in Idaho Falls. Volunteering or joining a club or organization is a wonderful way to become involved in the town’s activities. You can learn more about local organizations, activities and churches at the Idaho Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau (at 630 W. Broadway). If you have school-aged children, your spouse may ask about volunteering in your child’s classroom or in the school library.

Spouses holding an H-4 visa cannot earn money while in the U.S. In order to work, they need to be under their own H-1B visa.

All children in dependent visa status are allowed to attend K-12 school. A child must apply for his/her own visa status (i.e., F-1) after turning 21 years of age.

Foreign nationals do not receive clearances. This means you will not be allowed to enter specific areas at INL even if your group is in a “restricted area” or “behind the fence.” If paperwork is properly submitted, you can be escorted to meetings and other events in restricted areas. You also will not be allowed access to any sensitive information. Questions regarding clearances should be directed to Sam Tomchak from Foreign Visits & Assignments.

Please visit the U.S. Customs Web site to obtain information about customs regulations when entering the United States. You will find information about bringing medications, pets and restricted goods into the country. The Web site also contains some very helpful traveler’s tips for coming to the U.S., including mailing goods to the U.S.

Notify your country’s embassy when you arrive at Idaho National Laboratory. Should a problem arise, your embassy can help you more quickly if you are already registered. To find your nearest embassy, search online.

Anyone planning international travel needs a passport from his/her country of citizenship. Your passport should be valid for six months beyond the intended length of your stay in the United States. If your passport expires while you are residing in Idaho, you will need to contact your nearest embassy or consulate (you are responsible for any costs associated with renewing your passport). You might be required to appear in person to renew your passport, which could mean a trip out of the state (This will also be at your expense).

English is the official language in Idaho Falls and at Idaho National Laboratory, even though many other languages are spoken locally. You and your family will need a good working knowledge of English to function comfortably at work and in the community. People with no knowledge of English will feel isolated. If necessary, take classes before you leave home. Eastern Idaho Technical College (EITC) offers free English classes Monday through Thursday (day and evening) during the school year. For more information, call 208-524-3000.

Do not worry if you do not have a Social Security number (SSN), even though it is requested on your acceptance forms. Just leave the spaces blank. INL will assist you in obtaining a Social Security number or tax number when you arrive.

It is not necessary to obtain a Social Security number in order to obtain your driver’s license. The Social Security Administration no longer assigns SSNs if the sole reason for needing an SSN is to comply with a state statute that requires it for issuance of a driver’s license. However, if you need a Social Security number, you can apply for a Social Security card by completing Form SS-5, which is available for download or you can obtain Form SS-5 by calling 1-800-772-1213 or visiting your local Social Security office. These services are free.

Foreign Nationals not already in the U.S. are asked to wait approximately 10 days before visiting their local Social Security office. You will need to submit at least two documents as evidence of your age, identity and lawful alien status. Your passport will suffice to prove age and identity. You also will need an unexpired document issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, such as Form I-551, I-94 or I-766. All documents must be an original or a copy certified by the issuing agency.

Take the application and evidence in person to your local Social Security office. You can find an office location online. You should receive your card within two weeks of the date of submitting your information to process your request. If you have not received your card within this time frame, contact the Social Security office where you filed the application. The office will investigate why it is being delayed.

As soon as you receive your card, contact your HR Staffing Consultant so that you can come in to complete the E-Verify process as well as provide Payroll with your Social Security number.

Neither you nor your spouse needs a valid visa stamp in your passport in order to be in the U.S. in lawful status. You are required to have a valid unexpired visa document (I-20, DS-2019 or I-797 approval notice), a valid I-94 and a passport that is valid for at least six (6) months past your intended length of stay in the U.S. (Please note you are responsible for any costs incurred to renew your passport).

If the INL requires that you take a trip outside the U.S. for work, you may need to revalidate your visa stamp (a U.S. visa is stamped in a passport to show that a person has been reviewed by a consular official and is eligible for entry to the U.S.). You may arrange through your management travel to your home country to obtain a valid visa stamp if you have not received your initial visa stamp from changing status (F-1 or J-1) to an H-1B visa. INL will pay reasonable travel costs to your country of origin, i.e., airfare plus lodging and perdiem for the number of days reasonably required to obtain your visa.

INL will not pay travel costs for your family to receive their initial visa stamp. Because they may remain in the U.S. without a valid visa stamp, any travel to your home country for your family will be at your expense. If your family travels to your home country without you (at your expense) and needs to renew their visa stamps in order to be eligible to reenter the U.S., please contact the HR&D Immigration Coordinator. The INL will provide your family with a copy of your H-1B petition and an employment verification letter. Your family will also need your original I-797 (Approval Notice) and a copy of your I-94 in order for the U.S. Consulate to provide the visa stamps for your family.

If you obtained your initial visa stamp after receiving your approved H-1B visa, your management can arrange to have your stamp renewed through Automatic Revalidation, with a validity of LESS than six (6) months remaining on your current visa, if you pursue the renewal in Canada. Automatic revalidation applies to expired nonimmigrant visa stamps of foreign nationals who have been out the U.S. for thirty days or less in contiguous territory (Canada). Travel to any other country outside Canada is not permitted when traveling to receive automatic revalidation to reenter the U.S. on an expired visa stamp. INL will not pay travel costs for foreign nationals who decide to return to their own country to renew their H-1B visa stamp, including the amount they would have been reimbursed by going to Canada to obtain the renewal. If you choose to return to your country of origin, you forfeit all INL support and are personally responsible for all travel costs associated with the trip.

Prior to leaving the U.S., always contact the HR&D Immigration Coordinator. You may need the INL’s assistance to prepare to leave the country. If traveling because you are obtaining your initial visa stamp, our immigration attorney will assist you with a checklist of what you will need when you make your appointment with the U.S. Consulate. This also applies to automatic revalidation in Canada. Remember to contact the HR&D Immigration Coordinator at least two (2) months prior to leaving the U.S. Some Consulates require specific forms, from their website, prepared and submitted in advance. Don’t leave things until the last minute.

If you do not have a Social Security number and wish to obtain a driver’s license, you must go to an Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles office. You will need to present your passport with a U.S. visa, (current I-94) or a passport and an original document issued by the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services. You also will need to take one official item that indicates your Idaho Falls address, such as a rental agreement, utility bill, original government-issued document or a financial institution document. You may or may not be required to take written and driving tests. The Bonneville County DMV office (in Idaho Falls) is located at 254 “E” Street. For more information about driver’s licenses in Idaho, visit the Idaho DMV Web site.

In the process of buying a car, you will need a valid driver’s license. In Idaho Falls, used cars are sold by giving the car’s title (a document) to the buyer and the car’s current license plate to the seller. You and the seller must each complete a form printed on the back of the title. The seller is everyone named on the title; if the title names two persons, both must sign. If the seller or you make a mistake on the title, then you both must fill out another form, a Bill of Sale, available from the Bonneville County DMV office (in Idaho Falls). The seller then takes the license plate off the car.

You may not drive a car without a license plate on a public road, so you should ask the seller to either leave the license plate on the car for a few hours, or sell you the car in the parking lot of the insurance agent you have chosen. Before you can register the car and get its new license plate, you must buy insurance for the car. To sell you the appropriate insurance, the agent must see the car.

In addition to establishing an account at a local bank or credit union, it is wise to obtain a credit card. Credit cards are used for charging various expenses such as shopping and purchasing goods locally, renting a vehicle, purchasing an airplane ticket on the Internet or by phone. Most hotels require a credit card to make a reservation. Without a credit history, most U.S. financial institutions are reluctant to extend credit to foreign nationals. You might apply for a secured credit card which would require you to open and maintain a savings account as security for your line of credit. You might also obtain a charge card through a major department store. As a foreign national, such cards are easier to obtain and will help you to establish a credit history in the U.S.

The American school system consists of several levels of education. Preschools offer classes for children from two to five years of age. Elementary schools teach beginning subjects to children ages five to 11 or 12. Secondary schools teach more advanced subjects to children from 13 to 17 or 18.

At the elementary and secondary school levels, each year of schooling is termed a “grade.” Elementary school consists of kindergarten through fifth or sixth grade. Secondary schools include grades six, seven and eight at the middle school, grades seven through nine at junior high, and grades nine or 10 through 12 at the high school.

Colleges, universities and vocational schools provide education for those who have completed secondary school. Within the university system, the first degree awarded is a bachelor’s degree. The four years as an undergraduate student at a college or university are normally referred to as the freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior years.

Students who continue on after obtaining a bachelor’s degree are called graduate students. In graduate school, a student can obtain a master’s degree within one to three years, or a doctorate within four or more years.

Idaho Falls offers public transportation through the Public Transit Authority. If you are working at the INL’s desert Site, the laboratory offers regular bus service to and from the Site from the following metropolitan areas: Blackfoot, Idaho Falls, Mackay, Pocatello, Rexburg, Rigby and Shelley. Bus information and schedules can be found on the INL Bus Operations Web site.

It is not recommended to bring your car with you when accepting employment at Idaho National Laboratory. It is easier to buy, lease or rent a car here than to import a car from your country. The United States imposes many regulations on imported cars, and importing is expensive.

The U.S. Postal Service delivers mail to homes and businesses Mondays through Saturdays. Mail is not delivered on Sundays or legal holidays. Special delivery and express mail is delivered seven days a week. When mailing a letter in the U.S., make certain to use the ZIP code, as this will speed delivery. Current postal rates can be found online. Two U.S. post offices are located in Idaho Falls: at 605 4th St. and at 875 N. Capital Ave.

Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) will determine if it has an obligation to withhold U.S. taxes from your salary. These taxes include Social Security taxes as well as federal and state income taxes. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began assigning Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) to noncitizens who are required to report income for tax purposes but who are not eligible for Social Security numbers. Any nonresident spouse or dependent who would be claimed on a U.S. tax return, who is not eligible for a Social Security number, will also need an ITIN. You are considered a U.S. resident if you have a “green card.” You also may be considered a U.S. resident for tax purposes if you meet the substantial presence test found online.

To apply for an ITIN, contact the IRS and ask for Form W-7 (Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number). You may contact IRS by calling the toll-free number, 1 800-829-1040 or by going online. For more information on taxes, call David O. Daniel at INL (526-0067).