Social Security Number Information
Individuals who have secured paid on-campus employment, PhD fellowships, or paid off-campus employment with OPT or CPT may be eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN).
All U.S. employers require employees to have an SSN. This unique nine digit identification number is issued by the U.S. government and is necessary for getting paid and paying taxes.
Once you obtain your SSN, you must guard it carefully. The SSN is a permanent ID number. Only share your SSN with individuals or organizations whom you believe are trustworthy and have a valid reason for needing your SSN.
We recommend that international students apply for a SSN at least 12 days after their initial or most recent entry to the United States in their current status.
If you are seeking a letter of denial for the application of a Massachusetts Learner's Permit/Driver's License/State ID, please go to a Social Security Administration office with your immigration documents and request a denial letter. This can be used in lieu of a SSN for the process of applying for a Learner's Permit or Driver's License.
Obtaining an SSN
To apply for a SSN, please take the following documents:
For On-Campus Employment
International Student On-Campus Employment Form (for students with on-campus jobs) OR
Fellowship award letter (PhD students only) OR
Job offer letter (for students, scholars, researchers) OR
J-1 sponsored student letter issued by visa sponsor
For Off-Campus Employment
CPT - CPT authorized I-20 (within 30 days of your start date) AND a Job/Internship offer letter (must be paid work)
OPT - EAD card AND OPT authorized I-20
For All Applicants
Valid passport and visa AND
Most recent I-20 (for F-1 visa holders) OR DS-2019 (for J-1/J-2 visa holders) AND
Print out of most recent electronic Form I-94 AND
- Application for a Social Security Card form
Due to COVID-19, Social Security Administration offices are closed to visitors, except by appointment, until further notice. However, they are still accepting phone calls and processing applications. Locate your nearest SSA Office using the Social Security Office Locator. If your closest SSA Office is located in Waltham or Cambridge, we have included instructions below that we have received from these offices about the current process for applying for a SSN. Although we have procedures listed here for the Waltham and Cambridge offices, we still highly recommend calling the office first to confirm that the procedure is still accurate. Please note that the Cambridge office is only accepting applications from current Cambridge residents.
If your closest SSA Office is not in Waltham or Cambridge, we recommend giving that office a call to see what your options are for requesting a SSN.
If your application is accepted, you will receive a receipt confirming that you have applied for a SSN and your SSN card will arrive in the mail within 2 weeks. Please note that there might be delays in receiving your SSN.