The Internal Revenue Service (US federal taxation agency) requires employers to report wages using the Social Security Number (SSN). This is a unique number assigned to individuals through an application process.
If you will be receiving payment (as in the case of University employment, including assistantships) for any type of work in the U.S., you must obtain a valid SSN from the U.S. Social Security Administration. There are two local offices near campus where you can apply. You will receive further information about this at International Orientation.
F-1 students must provide proof of an offer of employment on campus in order to apply for the Social Security Number. This is done by submitting a special document entitled F-1 Job Offer to ISSC for certification before you go to the Social Security Office (SSO).
J-1 students are generally eligible to work on campus and must provide proof of an offer of employment in order to apply for the Social Security Number. This is done by obtaining a Hiring Form from the department where you have been offered work. J-1 students should bring the Hiring Form to the International Student & Scholar Center (ISSC), where a letter verifying your visa status and the job offer will be prepared for use with your Social Security Number application.
F-1 and J-1 students must be registered for a full-credit course load and the ISSC must have reported your registration to SEVIS BEFORE you go to the SSO.
The International Student & Scholar Center recommends that you wait a few days after your arrival in the United States before you apply for a Social Security Number. This will give enough time for the information collected by Customs and Border Patrol when you entered the country to reach the Social Security Office computer system.
To apply for a Social Security Number, you need to complete a Social Security Application (you can get it from the Social Security office or download here) and bring it to the Social Security Office with the following documents:
- Passport with F-1 or J-1 student visa
- SEVIS I-20 (F-1) or DS 2019 (J-1)
- F-1 Job Offer Form or J-1 verification letter signed by the International Student and Scholar Center
- Valid I-94 - How to Print the Automated I-94
Be sure to have a valid local address on your application. This is the address where the Social Security Office will send your card. If it is not a valid address the card will be returned to the Social Security Office.
If your application is successful please be sure to request a receipt from the person who assists you at the Social Security Office. With the receipt you can complete the required payroll paperwork with the Student Employment Office at UMass Dartmouth, even before you receive the official Social Security card in the mail. If you do not get a receipt you will have to wait until you receive the Social Security card in the mail.
The Social Security card, with your new SSN on it, usually arrives in the mail about two weeks after you have successfully applied. You can obtain your SSN earlier by calling the Social Security Administration five (5) working days after you have made your application. They can be reached at 1-800-772-1213.
NOTE: After you receive your Social Security Number, you are eligible to work on campus; however, Social Security Numbers DO NOT authorize off-campus employment.
If your application is not successful, you will be told immediately at the Social Security office. Please request the name of the individual with whom you spoke at the Social Security Office and if possible the telephone number. This will enable the International Student Center (ISSC) staff to help you resolve the problem.
If you are not eligible for a Social Security Number under current federal regulations, you may still be issued a driving learner's permit, driver's license, or ID Card by the Registry of Motor Vehicles. You must provide acceptable identification documents and must otherwise qualify for the permit, license or ID Card being sought. The ISSC will also issue a support letter to use with your license application. Please download the letter below, fill in the correct information, and email it for signature to Pat Mooney at the ISSC: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please review this helpful summary on protecting your Social Security number and giving it only to authorized people and organizations.
Family members in the F-2 visa category are not allowed to work in the US and generally cannot obtain a Social Security Number. If you are not eligible for a Social Security Number but you need a number to set up a bank account or to file an income tax return, you can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (Form W-7).
Family members in the J-2 visa category may be allowed to work in the U.S. Permission to work must be given by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Please consult the ISSC for help with applying for employment authorization. If authorization is granted, then the J-2 family member would need to follow the procedure above to apply for a Social Security Number.