Obtaining a Social Security Card

What is a Social Security Number (SSN)?

For complete information about Social Security Numbers (SSNs) please refer to the Social Security Administration's web site: "Social Security Numbers for Non-citizens".

How do I Obtain a SSN?

You will need to apply for a SSN by visiting your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office. You should check with your department administrator or Human Resources contact for additional information about this process. Most likely you will receive a Social Security card that has the notation, "VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH DHS AUTHORIZATION." SSA issues this type of card to people lawfully admitted to the United States on a temporary basis who have authorization to work by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Your card should arrive 2-6 weeks after you apply.

When Should I Go to the Social Security Office?


SSA must verify your immigration status with the DHS database. It takes some time for the two federal databases to communicate the correct information about your immigration status. The normal processing time is approximately 10 business days. Therefore, IPS strongly recommends waiting at least 10 business days from time of entry into the US before applying for your SSN.

Applying prior to this time may result in the delay of issuing your SSN for up to three months!
Where is the Nearest Social Security Administration Office?  


Local Number  1-866-562-0738

What Should I Take to the SSA Office?
  1. Your passport
  • Your form DS-2019 / form I-20
  • Your form I-797 if in H1-B status
  • Your EAD Card if in J-2, F-1/OPT
  • Your I-94 Card
  • Letter of employment
  • Confirmation from IPS that you are active in SEVIS (F or J)


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