Social Security Number
An example U.S. social security card.
Social Security numbers are issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to foreign workers authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to work in the U.S.
A Social Security number is used to report your wage earnings to the U.S. government and to determine eligibility for social security benefits.
You can begin work and be paid while you wait for your Social Security number to be issued. You must however, apply for your number and provide the receipt from the SSA verifying that you have applied.
If this is your first time in the U.S. as an F1,J1,H1,O1 or TN visa holder, SSA recommends that you wait 10 -14 days after arrival in the U.S. before visiting the SSA to apply for your Social Security number. This will ensure that USCIS has sufficient time to enter your entry data into the SAVE database so the SSA can verify your immigration information.
Applying for a Social Security Number
To apply for a Social Security number you should go in person with your passport, DHS papers showing your immigration status, I-94 and WHOI appointment letter to the:
Social Security Administration
48 Research Rd.
Falmouth, MA 02540
Phone Number: (508) 548-8150
On-line verification can be received quickly most of the time. If on-line verification isn’t possible, it may take several weeks or months.
When a Social Security Number is not required
A Social Security number is not required to open a bank account or for a service that requires a credit check. You may file an Internal Revenue Service Form (IRS) W-8BEN when opening a bank account to prove that you are exempt from the requirement of providing a social security number.
If you need a Social Security number for tax purposes, but don’t meet Social Security requirements, you can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS toll-free number is 1-800-829-3676. Request form W-7. Further details are available at the Internal Revenue Service website at: http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=96287,00.html
Further details are available on the Social Security Administration website at: http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10107.html .
Last updated: February 25, 2013