About Your Social Security Number

About Your Social Security Number

Since you will be working in the U.S., you will first need to apply for a Social Security card. If you already have a Social Security number you do not need to apply again. Make sure to bring your card with you to the U.S.

Important: After you apply, it will take 4 to 6 weeks for your Social Security Card to arrive. You are allowed to work while you are waiting for your card. If your employer has questions about your eligibility to work because your card hasn’t arrived, ask him or her to call InterExchange at 1.800.597.1722.

If you need to apply for a first-time Social Security card, you will apply in person at a local Social Security office. Use the Social Security Office Locator, to find the closest office. To apply for your card, you must bring the originals AND two photocopies each of the following documents:

  • Photo page of passport
  • Visa page of passport with admission stamp
  • DS-2019 Form (make a photocopy of both front and back)
  • Form SS-5 (application form)

Important: When you apply for your Social Security Number (SSN) you will get a receipt letter. Make a copy of it for your personal records. Give the original receipt letter to your employer when you arrive. The receipt is proof that you have applied for a Social Security number.

Remember! Read all instructions BEFORE you fill out the application. Here are some tips:

  • Use your host employer’s address as your mailing address, including the name of your host employer’s business.
  • For question #5 (CITIZENSHIP), check the box labeled “Legal Alien Allowed To Work.”
  • For question #9A (MOTHER’S NAME AT HER BIRTH), write your mother’s family name when she was born, or her name before she was married.
  • You can leave #6, #7, #9B and #10B blank.
Social Security Application Social Security Card

Important: You will not be issued a Social Security number if you do not register in SEVIS. You must register as soon as you arrive in the U.S. Participants need to wait at least 3-4 business days after registering in SEVIS before applying for a Social Security number.

Applying at a Social Security office

Most Social Security offices are only open Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. If possible, you may want to avoid the busy hours from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Social Security Application Process

SSA = Social Security Administration

Register housing address in SEVIS
Wait 3-4 business days
Bring originals and 2 copies of all documents to SSA
Documents to Bring

Two copies and original of...

  • Photo page of passport
  • Visa page of passport with CBP admission stamp
  • DS-2019 Form (front and back)
  • Form SS-5 (application form)
  • Dear SSA Letter (given by download)
SSA accepts application?

Bring copy of application receipt to employer

Take detailed notes regarding what the SSA officer says and call InterExchange

Wait 4-6 weeks to get your card in the mailbox
Received Social Security card?

Bring card to employer to copy and keep the original

Call SSA to check status and inform InterExchange.

Checking your application status

After you apply for your Social Security number, we recommend checking on your application status after seven to ten days. If you return to the office at which you applied, take all of your original documents as well as the receipt of application. Checking on your application status can minimize any delays or problems with your application. Your Social Security number may even be available to you prior to your card being mailed out. If you have any questions, please call the Social Security Administration’s toll-free number: 1.800.772.1213.

After you receive your Social Security number

It is your responsibility to notify your employer as soon as you receive your Social Security number. Your employer may ask to make a copy of your Social Security card (they will need the number for tax purposes), but you should retain the original card and keep it in a safe place. Do not laminate your card.

Protect Your Personal ID and Confidential Information

Your Social Security number is a lifelong number that is yours alone. Do not allow others to use your number. Record your number in a safe place in case your card is lost or stolen. Protect both your card and your number to prevent misuse.

If you have any questions or lose your card, please call the Social Security Administration’s toll-free number, 1.800.772.1213, or visit their website. You can also call InterExchange for guidance at 1.800.597.1722.

Social Security Locations

If there is no Social Security office close to your job site, you may consider applying for your number upon arrival in the U.S., in one of the major cities (New York, Chicago, Boston, etc.). If this is the case, you should prepare all documents prior to your arrival. Since people normally apply for Social Security cards near their place of employment, an officer may tell you to wait and apply once you have reached your job site. You may explain that there is no Social Security office near your job site. Therefore, you should apply in your arrival city. If the officer seems unsure about doing this, politely ask for a supervisor or the manager.

To locate the nearest office, check the Social Security Administration’s website.

Next: Life at a Camp in the USA »

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
The International Coalition for Global Education and Exchange
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation