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Social Security Number (SSN)

A Social Security Number (SSN) is required for everyone who works in the U.S., including non-immigrants. It is not a work permit, nor is it a health insurance benefit. The Social Security Number is used by the government to collect taxes from employees’ paychecks to provide stipends to qualifying elderly and disabled people. Certain nonimmigrants (such as F-1) are not required to have Social Security taxes deducted from their pay if they are in the U.S. for less than 5 years. If you are planning to work in the U.S., you must apply for a Social Security Number. The following people are eligible to apply:

  • F-1 students with job offer letter and work permission.

When to Apply

Applications made too early may be rejected or delayed much longer than the usual process. Students and visiting scholars must be physically present in the U.S. to apply for a social security card. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is required to verify your legal entry into the U.S. before issuing a social security card/number. New F-1  students should wait at least ten (10) days after being fully registered and after the first day of class before applying. You cannot apply for an SSN until you receive an employment letter and have all of the required documents.

Application Process

  1. Collect required documentation.
  2. Complete a Social Security application form SS-5 available from the Social Security website or at the Social Security office.
  3. Submit your application in person along with other required documents to the Social Security Administration’s office.
DocumentF Visa HoldersJ Visa Holders
Employer’s Letteryesyes (sponsor letter)
Work Permityes (OPT)no
  1. Request a written verification receipt.
  2. Wait approximately two weeks for your Social Security card to arrive in the mail.

Note: To receive a letter from the Social Security Administration for your driver’s license, bring all above documents and paperwork that is applicable.

SSN Safety

Although an SSN is only meant to be used for tax and governmental purposes, it is often used by financial institutions, businesses, and others as a unique identification number. Because the SSN is a unique ID, it is often the target of “identity theft”. Therefore you should be very careful about where and to whom you give your SSN.

  • Never carry your Social Security card or number with you.
  • Be very careful with any forms, applications or other materials that may have your SSN.
  • Never give your SSN to someone who calls you on the phone.
  • Never reply to an email or websites that request an SSN.

Social Security Office Information


2122 Lincolnway Court
Fort Wayne, IN 46819

Phone: 1-877-233-6061


Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Wednesday: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.