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Applying for a Social Security Number

This information does not apply to student interns who are paid by their home countries or institutions.

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 from the U.S. Social Security Administration Office. There are two local offices near campus where you can apply. The Locator also has choices for other offices more convenient to your location:

You will receive further information about this process at the J-1 Student Intern Orientation after you arrive.  Your University appointment letter will provide verification of your status to the Social Security Office.  


  • Student interns 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.


  • Wait a few days after your arrival in the United States before you visit the Social Security Office, to allow enough time for the information collected when you entered the U.S. to reach the Social Security Office computer system
  • Complete a Social Security Application (you can get it from the Social Security office or download here) 
  • Bring your completed application (use your new local address) to the Social Security Office along with the following documents:

If your application is successful:

  • 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 Payroll 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 application usually is approved within two weeks and mailed the local address you provided on the application.  You can obtain your new number 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

Important to know:

  • 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 in J-2 status may be allowed to work in the US with permission from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  Please consult the ISSC for help with applying for employment authorization.
  • Protect your Social Security Number.  See 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.

Updated 05/14/2015 Avoiding Immigration Scams

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