Social security number (SSN) is a unique 9-digit number assigned by the Social Security Administration (SSA) of the United States to its citizens, permanent residents, and eligible nonimmigrants. An SSN is the government’s way of identifying and keeping records of earnings, tax payments, and social security benefits. As an international student, you need an SSN to be able to work legally on and off-campus, open a bank account, get a driver’s license, and to be able to access some other services and benefits. It is advisable to wait for about two weeks after going to the US for the first time before applying for an SSN. This waiting gives time for your information to update in all government systems.  

As an international student, these are some things you need to apply for an SSN:

  1. Complete social security card application (SS-5): You can do this in person or at any SSA office.

  2. Birth certificate to verify your age.

  3. International passport: International passport is a crucial document for nonimmigrants. It is the main document that ties you to your home country and verifies your identity as a foreigner. It contains the visa and can also be used to verify your date of birth.

  4. Form I-94 (arrival/departure record): This is issued by the US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) on entry into the US. It confirms that you were lawfully admitted into the US. It also contains information on your visa status and permitted duration of stay.

  5. Form 1-20 or form DS-2019 or form I-797: Form I-20 is issued by the Designated School Official (DSO) of the International Students Office (ISO) of your institution to students eligible for F-1 visa (academic studies or language training programs). Form DS-2019 is issued to individuals eligible for a J-1 visa (work and study exchange visitor programs such as research, medical and business training, internship). Form I-797 is issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to communicate receipt or approval of an application filed by an employer for a nonimmigrant. These documents are used to verify nonimmigrant status.

  6. A Letter from your employer: Your employer should give you a letter stating your job title, start date, number of work hours, supervisor’s name, and contact number. This letter will be written on the organization’s letterhead. It will contain all the information relevant to your employment, including the Employers Identification (EID) number, which will be included in the letter from the DSO. You will need this letter to support your application for an SSN.

  7. A Letter from your designated school official (DSO) that confirms your identity, school, and employer: It is always good to consult with your DSO before looking for a job to clarify the type of jobs permissible with your visa status. After securing a job and obtaining the letter from your employer, you submit the letter, and the DSO will sign it, after which you will submit it to SSA. This letter is proof to the SSA that your institution is aware of your job and it falls within the stipulated guidelines.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *