print

For Students

Social Security Number

Disclaimer: Only students who have enrolled and registered for classes can apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). Newly Admitted students cannot apply for an SSN before they begin their classes.

A Social Security number (SS#) is a taxpayer identification number issued by the Social Security Administration. It does not represent permission to work, nor is it proof of US citizenship or permanent residence. Once you obtain a SS#, it is your number forever and may be used on subsequent visits to the US. The Social Security Administration does not consider SSN# requests for drivers licenses, loans, rental agreements, etc. ONLY STUDENTS WHO ARE EMPLOYED OR HAVE A JOB OFFER MAY APPLY FOR A SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER.

If you are paid in the US, you must have a SS# to file a US income tax return. F-1 AND J-1 STUDENTS AND THEIR DEPENDENTS ARE REQUIRED BY FEDERAL REGULATIONS TO FILE AT LEAST ONE TAX FORM, EVEN IF YOU HAVE NOT WORKED IN THE US.

If you would like to obtain a SS#, you must apply in person at a local office of the Social Security Administration. You cannot apply until you have been in the US for at least 10 days, have registered for classes, are within 30 days of your employment start date. When you go, you must bring with you:

  • your passport, with F-1 or J-1 visa
  • I-94
  • I-20 form or DS-2019 form
  • A letter of support from the International Students Office
  • a letter* from the employer on the employer’ s letterhead that provides employment verification, namely:
    • Identity of student employee
    • Nature of job the student is, or will be, engaged in
    • Anticipated or actual employment start date
    • Number of hours the student is expected to work
    • Employer Identification Number (EIN)
    • Employer contact information, including the telephone number and the name of the F-1 student’ s immediate supervisor
    • Original signature and signatory’s title
    • Date

* Here is a suggested letter format for the Employer.

You will receive your Social Security number on a card in the mail approximately three weeks after you apply.

After you receive your Social Security number, please go to WebSIS Biographic Record and report your number for tax purposes.

Social Security Administration Office:
10 Fawcett Street
First Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138      

1-888-527-9340
http://www.socialsecurity.gov

  Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 am – 3 pm
except Wednesday, 9 am - 12 pm



Specific information for F-1 foreign students who will be working in the United States is at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10181.html

Information about J-1 exchange visitors who will be working in the United States is at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10107.html

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

If you are on OPT, you will also need to bring your EAD card with you to apply for the SS#. Please refer to the Social Security Administration website for information on nearby locations.

Top of Page