Social Security Number and ITIN Information

Social Security Numbers

Social security numbers are a unique number, primarily issued to individuals for tax purposes.  International students are not automatically eligible for social security numbers.  However, students who obtain U.S. job offers may apply for a social security number at the Social Security Administration (SSA). 

On-campus employers should provide students with a job offer letter formatted like this sample letter.  Update August 2016 - The local Social Security Administration office has received an increasing number of fraudulent or outdated requests from students no longer employed, and now ask that campus employers wait to provide students with the verification letters until the first actual day of employment.  

The student should then upload the letter into iHawk.  An ISSS advisor will provide the student with a second letter from ISSS.  The student should take both letters, his/her passport, I-94 card, and I-20 or DS-2019 to the SSA to complete the application for a social security number.  The SSA also asks that student go to their office to apply within 14 days of the date the employment letter was created.  If a student waits too long, ISSS will deny the request and require the student to obtain an updated verification letter from the department.

Generally, it can take about 10 days to receive the actual social security card.  In the interim, these students may begin their work on-campus for a limited amount of time with a temporary ID.  Please contact an HR representative for more information.  Please be aware that the SSA must verify the student’s status prior to issuing the number; the ISSS counsels that students who have just arrived to begin their studies must wait until after the start of classes to apply for an SSN to ensure there are no problems.

Students with off-campus offers should be prepared to show proof of their work authorization in addition to their passport, I-94 card, and I-20 or DS-2019 when applying at the Social Security Administration.  No letter is needed from the ISSS.

The Social Security Administration provides further information on employers’ responsibilities when hiring foreign workers. 

Individual Tax identification Numbers

Students who will receive payment from the university (ex. fellowships) but are not actually working in the U.S. are ineligible for a social security number.  These students should apply for and receive an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or ITIN instead.  Please contact Human Resources for questions.  ISSS is unable to assist with ITIN issues.

Occasionally students can claim dependents on their tax return.  In that situation, the ITIN is used to identify the dependents of the person filing a tax return, and the application is filed at the time the tax return is submitted.