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Applying for a Social Security Number

This page explains the U.S. requirement that anyone paid by a U.S. employer must obtain a Social Security number before being allowed to earn wages.  There is also useful information about protecting your Social Security number and what to do if you are not eligible to apply.

This information does not apply to scholars who are paid by their home countries or institutions; nor does it apply to scholars who may have been issued a Social Security Number during a previous stay in the U.S.

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 from a U.S. employer (as in the case of University employment) for any type of work in the U.S., you must obtain a valid Social Security Number (SSN) from the U.S. Social Security Administration Office.  There are two local offices near campus where you can apply. The Social Security Office Locator will also provide choices for other offices that may be more convenient to your location.  

  • New Bedford - use postal code 02740
  • Fall River - use postal code 02720

You will receive further information about this process at the J-1 Scholar Orientation after you arrive.  Your University appointment letter will provide verification of your status to the Social Security Office.  Scholars who are paid by a source other than UMass Dartmouth (most often in their home countries) will not need to apply for a Social Security Number.  They will need to check in with their sponsoring department and with Human Resources.


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 along with the following documents:

Passport with J-1 Scholar visa
Appointment letter from UMass Dartmouth
Valid (most recent) I-94 - How to Print the Automated I-94

Be sure to have a valid local address on your application.  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.

Family members traveling with you may be allowed to work in the US, such as those in J-2 status.  Permission to work must be given by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of the Department of Homeland Security. Please consult the ISSC for help with applying for employment authorization. 

Please review this helpful page from the U.S. Social Security Administration on protecting your Social Security number and giving it only to authorized people and organizations. Avoiding Immigration Scams

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