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Administrative Matters

Your case is handled by an Immigration Specialist at DIS office located in Bldg. 31. This person will give you a file with all the relevant documents to fill out for Health Insurance, NIH ID card and will also provide you with all the necessary addresses (for eg. Social Security, MVA, etc. The most important thing is to get a Social Security card and to open a bank account. You will need the social security number to rent an apartment or to use a bank card. Until you get your social security number, you can use your DS2019 document (earlier called IAP66) and mention that you work at the NIH.

Health Insurance

There are two choices for health insurance:

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS)

  • Cigna

Your administrative officer will direct you to visit office of FAES located at Bldg 10 to choose and sign documents of your insurance. FAES will provide a nice orentation of above two options and will help to choose what is best for you. Here is the brief summary of differences, with Cigna, you have to quickly choose a GP. You need to get a letter from the GP if you want to see a specialist. BCBS does not cover for dental work. You have to therefore take an additional insurance for dental work. ( This costs ~ $110 per year per person, or ~$275 per year per family. You can only take out this insurance at a particular time of the year, like November and it only takes effect from January. Dentists are usually very expensive even with an insurance. BCBS is good for people with families because there is one fixed rate regardless of the number of children in the family. BCBS will pay for medical expenses undertaken in India (please confirm with your insurance company). You have to bring back a bill and call them to get the re-imbursement.

Always carry the insurance card with you otherwise you might have to pay on your own for any medical treatment. If your medical bill is greater than $100, verify the correctness of the bill by calling your insurance company.

TIP: It is recommended you take atleast one month travel insurance before coming to US, in case you have some technical problem getting insurance from NIH you and your family will be covered for sometime.

ID Card

You will need an ID card if you do not have an American driver's license. Otherwise you would have to carry your passport everywhere. To get an ID card (State ID card), go to MVA. In Maryland, you'll need two pieces of evidence of domicile (rent bill, phone bill, electricity bill, etc) and two pieces of evidence of identity (passport, NIH ID card). For the latest details check at the following website,



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