Applying for a Social Security Number

Procedures for Applying

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 Social Security Number (SSN) from the U.S. Social Security Administration.  There are two local Social Security Offices (SSO) near campus where you can apply.  You will receive further information about this process at International Orientation.

The International Student & Scholar Center (ISSC) 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.  

Please review the links to the right for additional information and forms.


Will I pay Social Security taxes? (Scroll to the bottom of the linked page).  


NOTE: Social Security Numbers DO NOT authorize off-campus employment.


Follow these steps to submit an application for a Social Security Number:

  • F-1 and J-1 students must be registered for a full-credit course load; the ISSC must have reported your registration to SEVIS BEFORE you go to the SSO.
  • Prepare a letter showing proof of offer of employment:
    • F-1 students
      • F-1 students must provide proof of an offer of employment with a completed F-1 Job Offer signed by your on-campus supervisor and the ISSC in order to apply for a Social Security Number.
      • If your first employment experience is with Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT), you will need a completed F-1 Job Offer signed by your off-campus supervisor and the ISSC before you apply for a Social Security Number.
    • J-1 students
      • J-1 students require a letter authorizing their employment in addition to the Social Security letter.  Please see On-Campus Employment for details.
      • J-1 students must provide proof of an offer of employment in order to apply for a Social Security Number: 
        • Obtain a Hiring Form from the department where you have been offered work.  
        • Prepare the J-1 Student Soc. Security Letter and bring to the ISSC for signature along with the Hiring Form.
  • Complete a Social Security Application (you can get it from the Social Security Office or download - see link to the right).  Be sure to have a valid local address on your application; otherwise, the card with your new Social Security Number will be returned to the SS Office.  
  • Take the application to the local 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 Student Social Security letter from the ISSC
    • Valid I-94 - See link to the right for printing the I-94


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 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 application usually is approved within two weeks.  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.  

If your application is not successful or you are not eligible for a Social Security Number:

  • You will be told immediately at the Social Security office.  Ask for the name and phone number of the official who helped you.  The ISSC staff can help you resolve the problem.
  • If you are not eligible for a Social Security Number under current federal regulations, you can still get a driving learner's permit, driver's license, or ID card from the Registry of Motor Vehicles.  You must show valid 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 ISSC support letter from the right-hand links, fill in the correct information, and email it for signature to Anne Frates at the ISSC:  

Other SSN Information

  • Family members on an F-2 visa can't work in the US and can't get a Social Security Number.  If you need an identification number to set up a bank account or to file an income tax return, you can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) with the Internal Revenue Service Form W-7 - (see link to the right).
  • Family members in the J-2 visa category can work in the U.S. with permission from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Please consult the ISSC for help with applying for permission to work.
  • Please view the important information on the right about protecting your Social Security number and giving it only to authorized people and organizations.


Updated 07/17/2017