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Social Security Number

Do I Need a Social Security Number (SSN)?

These are not required for international students, but you will most likely find it helpful. If you will be working at all — whether on-campus, or eventually off-campus — you will be required to get a social security number. The number you are given will remain the same for the rest of your life.

What is a Social Security Card?

A social security card is required for everyone who works in the United States, even U.S. nationals. On the card is a unique Social Security Number (SSN) that you will keep for life. This number is used for many purposes in the United States, including employment and paying taxes. A social security card is not a work permit. Visit the Social Security Administration’s website for more information at

How Do I Get a Social Security Number?

  1. After your arrival and registration, you can make an appointment with the Immigration Specialist in the Office of the Registrar and she will supply the appropriate letter from the university requesting that you are given a social security number. The laws regulating the Social Security Administration are changing, so you must see Student Immigration Services (SIS) as your first step.
  2. Before meeting SIS, read the following two online documents see how SSN works.
    1. International Students And Social Security Numbers
    2. Get a New or Replacement Card.
  3. Download the SSN application form (PDF), print it, fill in whatever you can and bring it with you to your advising appointment.
  4. Take your completed SSN application and original documents to your local social security office.

Social Security Number Safety

Because the SSN is a unique ID, it is often the target of identity theft. Because of this, you should be very careful about where and to whom you give your SSN.

  • Never carry your social security card or number with you. Keep it at home in a secure location.
  • Only give our SSN to someone who has a specific and legitimate need for it.
  • Be very careful with any forms, applications or other materials that may have your SSN on them.
  • Never give your SSN to someone who phones you. You should initiate the call or meet in person.
  • Never reply to an email or click on website links that request an SSN.

Most businesses do not need an SSN from you unless it is for credit purposes (loans, credit cards, cell phone companies, etc.). You do not need an SSN to open a bank account. If a bank clerk insists on an SSN, ask to speak to a manager

For more information, please see FTC Resources on Identity Theft.