F-1 Visa Holders: Your Guide to Applying for a Social Security Card

Rules for Social Security Eligibility:

F-1 students can only be issued a Social Security number (SSN) if they can show proof of employment. If you are a new student, you must wait to apply until you register for classes and your record in SEVIS is “activated”. If an application is made before activation of a SEVIS record, the SSN application will be rejected by the Social Security Office. This is necessary, under the Social Security regulations, because your full-time registration is the basis of valid visa status.

What does it mean to not be eligible for a Social Security Number:
F-1 students who are not eligible for a SSN will be able to open a bank account, buy a cell phone and accomplish the tasks where an SSN may be asked for. If you are not eligible for an SSN, you can ask the Social Security Office for a Letter of Ineligibility.

F-1 students who are not employed but are required to report scholarship income to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). This is not an identity document, it is only used for income reporting. Applications for an ITIN are made when you are ready to file your income tax return. Go to this weblink for information on how to apply for an ITIN:
http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=222209,00.html

Here is the link to the ITIN form:
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw7.pdf

If you have questions about the ITIN process, you will want to contact your local US IRS office:
http://www.irs.gov/localcontacts/index.html

How do F-1 students prove they have an on-campus job?
F-1 students must have a job or a job offer before they can apply for the Social Security card. A letter must be submitted to prove you have employment and are eligible for a Social Security card:

· The on-campus employer’s letter must include:
o The name of student employee
o Nature of job that the student is, or will be engaged in
o Anticipated or actual employment start date
o Number of hours student is expected to work
o Employer Identification Number (EIN)
o Employer contact information, including telephone number and name of immediate supervisor
o Original signature, signatory title, and date

Note: A funding letter issued by the department or school for a Graduate Assistantship, Teaching Assistantship or Research Assistantship meets the requirements of the “Employer’s Letter” stated above.

· The letter will then be counter-signed on the back by a designated school official in the Office of International Student and Scholar Services. The ISSS official will provide an original signature, printed name, telephone number and date.

All documentation must be originals. Photocopies or notarized copies will not be accepted.

I have an on campus job. When can I apply for a Social Security card?
You will need to go to the Social Security Administration office located at 2 Court St., 3rd Floor, (modern brick building across from Boscov’s department store) in downtown Binghamton. The staff at the ISSS office has prepared a map of the City of Binghamton with the SSA office location highlighted so you can find the office easily.

Be sure to have the required application documents with you.

What documents do I need to show to apply for a Social Security card?
To submit your application you will need to bring with you:
o Your passport
o Your SEVIS I-20
o Your I-94 Form (see information below on Form I-94)
o A completed Social Security application
o If on University funding, a copy of your award letter, or a letter from your on campus employer confirming your job offer or that you are already employed.
o The back of the letter must be counter-signed by a designated school official in the ISSS.

Form I-94: If you entered the United States before April 26,2013, or if you entered at a land border crossing you have a paper I-94 Form. If you entered after April 26, 2013, you have an electronic Form I-94 that you will need to download to apply for your SSN. Here is the web link where you will find directions on how to print down your new Form I-94 or to replace a lost paper card: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/i-94_instructions/

The procedure requires the following steps:
1. You will submit a completed Social Security application to the US Social Security Administration Office at 2 Court St., 3rd Floor, (modern brick building across from Boscov’s department store) in downtown Binghamton.

2. You will show the Social Security representative your I-20, I-94, passport, visa, and proof of employment. A copy of your immigration documents will be kept as part of your application.

3. You will be issued a Social Security number and card.

4. Your Social Security card will be mailed to you, make sure your name is on your mailbox. SSN cards will not be delivered to unmarked mailboxes.

Frequently asked questions:

I already have a Social Security card. Do I need to submit letters proving my employment?
No. This evidence rule does not apply to F-1 students who have already been issued a Social Security number.

I am authorized for CPT or I have been issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) for Optional Practical Training or Off-Campus Employment. Do I need to submit letters proving my employment?
Letters are not required for F-1 students who have been authorized for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or who have been issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) for Off-Campus Employment based on Economic Hardship or Optional Practical Training (OPT). Instead, the work authorization for CPT on the third page of the I-20, or the EAD card for OPT or Economic Hardship Employment, is sufficient documentation.

How long does it take to receive my Social Security card?
It will take three to five weeks for you to receive your Social Security card.

My name is misspelled on my Social Security card. How do I get it corrected?
To correct a name spelling you will need to go to the US Social Security Administration Office at 2 Court St., 3rd Floor, (modern brick building across from Boscov’s department store) in downtown Binghamton. Staff there can help you submit the paperwork required to correct the name spelling.

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If you have any questions about this process please contact Karen Keefe-Guzikowski, Associate Director at kkeefe@binghamton.edu. You can also find more information on the rules and guidelines for Social Security numbers at http://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/.

Last Updated: 8/28/14