InterExchange Work & Travel USA students enter the U.S. on a J-1 Visa and are eligible to apply for a Social Security card. We advise students to apply for their Social Security cards in their arrival city. Students will receive a receipt that proves they have applied so that they can start working immediately and paychecks can be issued.
If a student has failed to apply before arriving at your business, please advise the person to apply at the nearest Social Security office. The office nearest you can be located by visiting the Social Security website. In the “How to Contact Us” section, there is link to the Social Security office locator.
Social Security cards are mailed from the processing center to students at their job sites approximately four weeks after applications are submitted, although they may occasionally take up to six weeks to arrive. A student is allowed to work and be paid before his or her Social Security card arrives. You should be given a Social Security letter of receipt, which serves as proof that the student has applied for a Social Security card. If a student does not receive his or her Social Security card within six weeks, you should contact Social Security at 1.800.772.1213 to find out the status of the application.
Make sure to note each student’s Social Security number, as InterExchange does not keep this information on file.
To strengthen homeland security, Social Security has taken extra steps to ensure the integrity of Social Security numbers. These changes may cause a delay of several weeks or months in receiving a number. The information below addresses employer responsibilities when hiring students or cultural exchange visitors who have applied for and are waiting to receive a Social Security number and card. Note that students may work while Social Security number applications are being processed. They may also receive paychecks during this time. Please see the Social Security Business services page for more information.
What causes delays when international staff apply for Social Security numbers?
When international students apply for Social Security numbers, the Social Security Administration (SSA) verifies their documents directly with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Students must be listed as active in SEVIS before the SSA issues a Social Security number. Most applications are verified immediately, but there can be delays. Social Security understands that this process may affect companies who hire international staff, but direct verification from DHS is vital to ensuring the integrity of the Social Security number.
What are an employer’s responsibilities when hiring international visitors who don’t have Social Security numbers?
Advise students that they are required to apply for a Social Security number and card. If a participant applied for but has not yet received a Social Security number, ask to see and retain a copy of the receipt letter as proof of application. You should also get the following information as completely as possible: the person’s full name, address, date of birth, place of birth, father’s full name, mother’s full maiden name, gender, and the date he or she applied for a Social Security number.
What if the student doesn’t have a Social Security number when wage reports (Forms W-2) are due to Social Security?
Paper Filer: If the person applied for a card but didn’t receive the number in time for filing, enter “Applied For” in Box a. Magnetic Tape/Diskette or Electronic Filers: If the student applied for a card but didn’t receive the number in time for filing, enter all zeros in the field for the Social Security number.
Remember to ask the student to tell you the number and the exact name printed on the card when he or she receives it.
My international visitor received his or her Social Security number after I filed my wage report. What do I do?
When you receive the person’s Social Security number, file Form W-2c (Corrected Wage and Tax Statement) to submit the number.
Next: SEVIS »