Applying for a U.S. Social Security Number
A Social Security number (SSN) is a permanent nine-digit identification number/card issued by the United States Government. It is used primarily for taxing income in order to provide retirement and medical benefits. For tax purposes, anyone receiving income must provide their US employer with a Social Security number.
Do not carry your SS number with you. Once you receive your card, memorize your number and keep your card in your home in a secure place. Provide your SSN only when it is absolutely required.
F–1 Students must have a job offer to apply for a SSN.
F–2 Dependents may not work and therefore do not qualify for a Social Security number. The Social Security
will not accept their applications.
J-1 Students may apply for a social Security number if they request an employment authorization letter from their J–1 sponsor (see below).
J–1 Scholars are automatically eligible for a SSN.
J–2 Dependents may apply for Social Security numbers only if they secure work permission (and get an Employment Authorization Document) through USCIS. Talk to ISSS about how to do this.
H–1B Employees are automatically eligible for a SSN.
H–4 Dependents may not work and therefore do not qualify for a Social Security number. The Social Security Administration will not accept their applications.
All F-2 , J-2 and H-4 Dependents who do not qualify for a Social Security number, can obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). The ITIN is an identification number that can be used for tax filing or some other specific legal purpose.
How to Apply for a U.S. Social Security Number
To obtain a Social Security number, you must apply in person at the local Social Security Administration office. Follow the procedures below depending upon your type of nonimmigrant status. The name you put on your Social Security application needs to match the name you have on your I-20/ DS-2019/ I-797, your passport, your I-94 card, and your University of Minnesota records.
Social Security Administration Office
1811 Chicago Avenue, Suite 2, Minneapolis
Office hours: 9:00 am to 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday.
Phone: 800–772–1213. Website: www.ssa.gov/
You must show the following documents to complete an application:
- Valid Passport
- Valid I-94 card
- I-20/ DS-2019/ I-797
- One other piece of identification - student ID card, driver's license, etc.
Additional Materials (depending on your status)
F–1 Students with Graduate Assistantships or On-Campus Hourly Jobs: In addition to the above, F–1 students need proof of a job or a job offer (from the hiring department) and verification of employment from a Designated School Official (DSO) in ISSS. You must have your Employing Department download and print the form letter “Verification of F-1 Student’s On-campus Job” on department letterhead and fill out Section 1. Then a DSO in ISSS must fill out Section 2 of the form letter.
F–1 Students with an Employment Authorization Document: Under certain circumstances, F-1 students can obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that permits them to work off-campus. In most cases, F-1 students with an EAD are on Optional Practical Training. F-1 students who have an EAD need to submit the standard documents listed above, and should show their EAD when they apply. No employer letter is necessary. No DSO letter is necessary.
F-1 Students on Curricular Practical Training: All F-1 students need to submit the standard documents listed above. The I–20 must be properly endorsed with DSO authorization for CPT on page 3. No employer letter is necessary, but a copy of an offer letter may be helpful.
F–1 and J–1 Visa Status Holder: The University of Minnesota is an e–verify employer, which requires your record to be active in SEVIS. If you are a new student, you must be registered to activate your SEVIS record.
J–1 Students Sponsored by University of Minnesota: J-1 students with “University of Minnesota” listed in Item 2 of their DS-2019 must go to ISSS in 190 Humphrey Center and request a “J-1 employment authorization letter” verifying your fulltime enrollment and employment authorization at the U of Minnesota. J-1 students must submit this letter in addition to the standard documents listed above.
J–1 Students Not Sponsored by University of Minnesota: J-1 students with a sponsor other than “University of Minnesota” in Item 2 of their DS-2019 must get an employment authorization letter from their official sponsor. J–1 students must submit this letter in addition to the standard documents listed above.
J–2 Dependents: All J-2 Dependents need to need to submit the standard documents listed above, and should show their EAD when they apply.
Order of Tasks
Apply for a Social Security number at the U.S. Social Security Administration. Obtain one of two documents:
- A receipt issued by the Social Security Administration confirming you have applied for a Social Security number (SSN)
- A letter issued by the Social Security Administration stating you have started the process of applying for a SSN (this letter can replace the receipt listed above in case the Social Security Administration needs to gather additional information.)
If you will be on payroll with the University of Minnesota, you will need to make an appointment to complete an I-9 Form, a federal form required for all individuals employed in the United States. See more information on this process.
When you receive your Social Security number, you should show your Social Security card to your hiring Department Human Resources/Payroll/I-9 Administrator.