Social Security Number (SSN)

What is a Social Security Number?

When to Apply

Application Process

Offer Letter from Employer

Work Authorization Letter

Where to Apply


What is a Social Security Number?

  • A Social Security number's primary purpose is to report your wages or earning to the government for tax purposes. If you work in the U.S. you need a Social Security Number in order to get paid.
  • The Social Security card you receive will include your name and identification number.
  • The number assigned is designated only for you and is highly confidential; it should be given only to authorized individuals such as your employer.
  • The Social Security Administration recommends you do not carry this card with you, but keep in a safe place.

For more information, check with the Social Security Administration.

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When to Apply

You may apply for a Social Security Card ten business days after your arrival in the U.S. Before you apply you must check in with International Student & Scholar Services so they may report your arrival on SEVIS. The earliest you may apply is 30 days before the start date of your I-20 or DS-2019.

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Application Process

You may apply for the card by completing Form SS-5.You can also obtain this form from the Social Security Office. To apply, you will need:

  • Completed Social Security Application, Form SS-5
  • Offer Letter from your Employer
  • Work Authorization Letter
  • Original I-20
  • Passport

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Offer Letter from Employer

You must provide evidence of employment or a promise of employment before the Social Security Office will assign you a social security number (SSN). The offer letter from your employer/future employer must describe:

  • What you will be doing when employed such as “working in a laboratory dissecting mice”.
  • The starting date of your employment.
  • Number of hours your will be working per week.
  • Your supervisor’s name and telephone number.

Note that new regulations from the Social Security Administration Office now state that international students may not apply for their SSN earlier than 30 days from the employment start date on the offer letter.

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Work Authorization Letter

To obtain a Work Authorization Letter from International Student & Scholar Services:

  1. Complete the Letter Request Form (PDF)
  2. You need to be registered for classes full-time (12 credit hours for undergraduates or 9 credit hours for graduate students).
  3. Bring your original I-20, with the completed Letter Request Form to the International Student & Scholar Services office, Room 410 Union Building.

International Student & Scholar Services will e-mail you when your Work Authorization Letter is ready. You can pick up your I-20 at the same time.

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Where to Apply

The Social Security Administration Office contact inofrmation:

Address: 175 East 400 South, Suite 500
Phone: 801-524-4115 or 1-800-772-1213 (toll free)
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (See "A" on the map.)

Social Security Administration Office

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