Social Security Number
All participants must apply for and receive a Social Security Number by visiting their local Social Security office. After you apply, it may take between four and six weeks to receive your card with your Social Security Number. You need a Social Security Number in order to be paid and may also need one, or proof that you've applied for one, to open a bank account. You also need a Social Security Number to file your tax return.
If you already have a Social Security Number, you do not need to apply for another one. If you do not have your physical Social Security card and you do not remember your Social Security Number, you can visit any Social Security Administration office to replace your card for free. To find an office near you, please visit: www.ssa.gov/locator.
If you do not have a Social Security Number, you need to apply for one as soon as possible, waiting at least 48 hours after registering in SEVIS. It is also recommended by the Social Security Administration that you wait 10 days after your arrival in the United States AND be registered in SEVIS for two days before applying for a Social Security Number. Following these guidelines will ensure that your Social Security Number is issued as fast as possible.
What do you need to bring?
- Passport & J-1 Visa
- I-94 card
- Dear Social Security Officer Letter found in the Documents Download section
- Social Security Form SS-5 Application that can be filled out and printed from the Documents Download section
After you apply, the Social Security Administration will give you a receipt. This is an important document that you give to your employer to show you have applied for a Social Security Number and are eligible to begin work. If you are asked for a Social Security Number when you open a bank account you can show this document.
When you show your employer the receipt for your Social Security Number application, also show them the Legal Opinion Letter provided by CIEE and available in the Documents Download section. This letter states that you are eligible for a paycheck even if you do not have your Social Security Number yet. If your employer has any questions about your work eligibility, have them call CIEE.
After you apply...
You should check on the status of your application in seven to ten days by returning to the Social Security office. This simple step guarantees that your application is being processed and there are no delays. When you check on the status of your application, be sure to bring your important documents along with your application receipt. Your number may already be available and the Social Security Administration can give you the number right away. Your card will arrive in the mail at the address you provided on your application.
When will my Social Security card arrive in the mail?
If you follow the steps above, you can expect to receive your Social Security Number in four to six weeks. It’s very important that the address you use on the application is accurate. If the address on your application changes before you receive your Social Security card, simply visit any Social Security Administration office and update your mailing address.