A Social Security number (SS#) is a taxpayer identification number. It is issued throughout the US by the Social Security Administration. It does not represent permission to work. It is not proof of US citizenship or permanent residence. If you are paid in the US, you must have a SS# to file a US income tax return. If you are not paid in the US but are in a visa status which permits certain types of employment (e.g. J-1, F-1 PT, J-2 with EAD), you are required by regulation to obtain a SS#. Once you obtain a SS#, it is your number forever and may be used on subsequent visits to the US.
If you would like to obtain a SS#, you must first secure employment. You should apply in person at a local office of the Social Security Administration. Addresses are listed below. When you go, remember to bring your passport, I-94 Card, I-20 form or DS-2019 form together with a Social Security letter which you can obtain from the University Center for International Education. You will receive your Social Security number on a card in the mail approximately six weeks after you apply. Please note that not all International students are eligible to work and may therefore some may not be eligible to acquire a SS#.
United States employees pay 7.65% "F.I.C.A." tax, which includes the Social Security and Medicare taxes. It is automatically withheld from their pay by their employer. If you are paid, you will have this tax withheld unless you are tax exempt due to your immigration status.
J-1 and F-1 students should not have the Social Security or Medicare taxes withheld if they have been in the United States for less than five calendar years.
Social Security Administration addresses:
Local Social Security Number Office at Federal Building (downtown)
Social Security Administration
200 W. Second Street
Dayton, OH 45402
If you get a SSN Card that is not yours, please return it to:
Social Security Administrator
P.O. Box 17087
Baltimore, MD 21235