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Applying for a Social Security Number

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What is a Social Security Number?

The Social Security Number is a number issued to an individual by the US Social Security Administration that serves as an economic identity number for tax and financial purposes in the US. In many ways it has become the default personal identity number in the United States. Social Security Numbers are generally not assigned to foreign national students, scholars, or visitors to the United States unless they are engaged in authorized employment.

Can I receive a Social Security number?

F-1 & J-1 Students must have an employment offer and be authorized to work by the Office of International Students and Scholars before applying for a Social Security Number. In order to obtain the letter from us you must present us first with a letter from your prospective employer on campus, on letterhead, stating the following:

  • Employee name
  • Start date
  • Job description
  • Number of hours per week
  • Signature of hiring manager

You can find a sample letter here: https://tulane.box.com/v/ssnsampleletter

J-1 Scholars and H-1B visa holders can apply for a Social Security Number with the documents listed below.

What if I am an F-1/J-1 student without a job offer but I need an identifying number for tax purposes?

You can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) from the Internal Revenue Service. Visit the Internal Revenue Service website for more information and application requirements for the ITIN.

When can I apply for a Social Security Number?

Because your SEVIS record must be made active, it is strongly advised that you do not attempt to apply for a Social Security Number until 10-12 days after you have made your initial entry into the country.

In order to make a SEVIS record active, a student must have checked in with OISS and be registered for a full course load. All F-1 and J-1 non-immigrants are advised to check with OISS before applying for a Social Security Number to verify that his or her SEVIS Record is "active".

How do I apply for a Social Security Number?

In order to apply for a SSN, you have to appear, in person, at the local Social Security Administration Office, complete Form SS-5 Application for a Social Security Card, and provide proof of your immigration status, work eligibility, age, and identity.

F-1 students with on-campus employment: I-20, passport, visa, I-94 card, and letter from OISS verifying employment/nonimmigrant status.

In order to generation the Social Security letter for you, OISS will need an official job description, stating your job duties from your hiring department or supervisor. The job description must be brought to OISS, who will issue the Social Security letter before submitting an application for a SSN.

F-1 students with CPT: I-20 with employment authorization on page 3, passport, visa, and I-94 card.

F-1 students with OPT: I-20 with employment authorization on page 3, Employment Authorization Document from USCIS, passport, visa, and I-94 card.

J-1 students: DS-2019, passport, visa, I-94 card, and letter from OISS verifying employment authorization, nonimmigrant status.

J-1 students must be authorized for employment in the SEVIS System before employment can begin. In order to generate the Social Security letter for you, OISS will need an official job description, stating your job duties from your hiring department or supervisor. The job description must be brought to OISS, who will issue the Social Security letter before submitting an application for an SSN.

J-1 Scholars: DS-2019, passport, visa, I-94 card, and letter from OISS verifying nonimmigrant status.

Do I need a Social Security Number before I start working?

No, you are not required to have a Social Security Number before beginning employment on campus.

Where is the local Social Security Office?

The local Social Security Office is located at 400 Poydras Street, in New Orleans, on the 5th floor. It is approximately 3 or 4 blocks from the St. Charles Streetcar heading downtown.

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