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: 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.

Important: After you apply, it may 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 1.800.621.1202.

If you need to apply for a first-time Social Security card, you must first fill out the Online Social Security Number Application.

After you submit your online request, you must visit your local SSA office in-person with your documentation (see below) within 45 calendar days. Use the Social Security Office Locator to find the closest office. Once your Online Social Security Number Application has been submitted, you will receive a successful submission confirmation page that includes a unique Online Control NumberYou will need to take a screen capture of this confirmation page or print it out to bring with you to your local Social Security office. It is important that you have the Online Control Number when you arrive to finish your application in-person.

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You must also bring the originals AND two photocopies each of the following documents:

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:

  • It is important to have a valid, dependable mailing address or an ‘in care of’ address to receive the card, before completing and submitting the Online Application. This will prevent you having to visit the SSA office multiple times for non-receipt issues. The post office cannot deliver the card if the applicant is unknown at the address.
  • You may use your host employer’s physical address as your mailing address, including the name of your host employer’s business.
  • If you are using your U.S. housing address, make sure that your full name is on the mailbox. If your full name is not on the mailbox or if a c/o (care of) is not included for a PO Box Address the Post Office will not deliver the Social Security card.
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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.

SSA = Social Security Administration

Register housing address in SEVIS
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Wait 3-4 business days
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Use the Social Security Office Locator at https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp to find your closest office. You’ll need to bring the originals AND two photocopies of the following documents:

  • Photo page of passport
  • Visa page of passport with print out of I-94 record
  • Dear Social Security Officer Letter
  • Printed DS-2019 Forms that are signed using digital software (make a photocopy of both front and back)
    • On July 20, 2023 the Social Security Administration published this directive to all offices to accept printed Forms DS-2019 that are signed using digital software or printed and signed in ink.
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SSA accepts application?
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Wait 4-6 weeks to get your card in the mailbox
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Received Social Security card?
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Bring card to employer to copy and keep the original

Call SSA to check status and inform InterExchange.

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.

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.

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 1.800.621.1202.

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.