J-1 Visa Holders: Applying for a Social Security Card

Rules for Social Security Eligibility:
J-1 students and scholars 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 you are a new scholar you must wait to apply until you meet with the Responsible Officer of the institution that issued your DS-2019 and your SEVIS record is validated

If an application is made before activation or validations of a SEVIS record, the SSN application will be rejected by the Social Security Office. This is necessary, under the Social Security regulations, because activation or validation of your SEVIS record is the basis of valid visa status.

What does it mean to not be eligible for a Social Security Number: 
J-1 students or J-1 scholars 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.

J-1 students or J-1 scholars 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:

Here is the link to the ITIN form:

If you have questions about the ITIN process, you will want to contact your local US IRS office:

Information and Directions for J-1 students or J-1 scholars Who Are Eligible for an SSN:

How do J-1 students and scholars prove they have an on-campus job?
o J-1 students and scholars students must have a job or a job offer before they can apply for the Social Security card.
o J – scholars can present their funding letter from Binghamton University
o J-1 students can present their Letter of Authorization for on campus employment or for Academic Training off campus.

Note: A funding letter issued by the department or school for a J-1 scholar 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.

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 DS-2019
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 located at 2 Court St. in downtown Binghamton. (3rd Floor of modern brick building across the street from Boscov’s Department Store)
2. You will show the Social Security representative your DS-2019, 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.

Frequently asked questions:

How long does it take to receive my Social Security card?
It will take two to four 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 where you applied for an SSN. In Binghamton the SSA office is at 2 Court St. in downtown Binghamton. You will need to bring your passport, DS-2019, and proof of current employment with you. Staff there can help you submit the paperwork required to correct the name spelling. You must be currently employed to arrange for a corrected Social Security card.


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/.
11/11 version

Last Updated: 8/28/14