I'm going to join a US university as a teaching-focused faculty. My official starting is set to be January 4th and, at that university, classes start in the same week, and I will be teaching 2 courses in my first term.
Things were going smoothly until I received an email from HR informing me that I will need to apply for an SSN upon my arrival in the US, and I will only be able to start working once I receive my SSN by mail, which may take 3-4 weeks. I brought this up with the head of department who then assured me that, yes this is normal, all foreign hires go through the same process, and I can certainly start teaching the courses right away, even if I'm not officially working yet.
I never worked in the US before, but I'm now very confused about this:
As mentioned, I'm expected to start teaching at the university right away even though I'm not actually employed during those first few weeks.
- Is this indeed the normal process/expectation? Also, is it even legal for the university to ask new hires to start working without putting them on the payroll?
- Do I risk violating the terms of my H1B visa by "working" without being employed/paid? (I'm probably being paranoid but I heard enough horror stories about the US immigration system...)
(Entering the US before the term starts to apply for the SSN number earlier isn't really an option, as I can only legally enter at most 10 days before the starting date of my visa...)