Social Security Numbers

International students and employees are required to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) to be employed in the United States.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) is required to verify identity and visa information with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before the SSN can be issued.

  • Do you need to apply for the SSN?  If you have a SSN from a previous stay in the United States, you do not need to apply for a new number. Once you have an SSN, it is your number for life. Therefore, when you leave the U.S., we recommend that you keep the card in a safe place, in case you return to the U.S. in the future. If you need to replace a card from a previous visit, contact the SSA for assistance. 
  • Before applying for a SSN:
    • Wait at least 3 business days after arrival to the U.S. before applying for a SSN. This time is needed for the port-of-entry data to feed into the database used by the SSA to verify your information and eligibility for the SSN.  If your data has not been sent to the SSA database, this will normally cause lengthy delays in obtaining the Social Security Card. 
    • Meet with ISO.  ISO will issue a SSN application letter which will include a list of documents to bring to the SSA with your application.  All original visa documents and copies of these documents should be brought with you when you apply for your SSN.
    • F-1 students must be registered for classes and must have their F-1 records registered in SEVIS prior to applying for the SSN.  This will be done at the onboarding appointment if you have already registered for the semester in which you will first enroll at UMMS.
    • J-1 Exchange Visitors must have their SEVIS records validated prior to applying for the SSN.  This can only be done by the J program sponsor.  For UMMS sponsored Js, ISO will validate the J SEVIS record during the onboarding appointment.  For other program sponsors (i.e. ECFMG), you will need to verify with the program sponsor that the SEVIS record has been validated prior to apply for the SSN.   ECFMG sponsored physicians may contact the UMMS Training Program Liaison (TPL) at ISO to assist with this verification.
  • Complete your SSN application using your full legal name.  This name should match your passport, visa stamp (if any), I-94 record, and any other supporting visa documents such as your Form DS-2019, Form I-20, Employment Authorization Document (EAD), I-797 Notice, etc.  Discrepancy in your name can cause additional delays or issues with your application.  If your passport does not list any family name (last name), the full name(s) that is listed as the given name(s) or first name section of your passport will likely be used by Department of State for issuance of the visa stamp, as well as by Customs and Border Protection on your I-94 record and on your Form DS-2019/Form I-20.  Your Social Security Application should match the format used by other U.S. government agencies in the instance where your passport does not contain a family/last name.
  • Go to your local SSA Office to apply for your SSN.  Make sure to bring your SSN application letter issued by ISO and the original documents listed in that letter, along with your completed and printed SSN Application.
  • Email Receipt Letter to HR:  The SSA will issue a receipt letter for the SSN application. Please immediately scan and email this letter to the HR Data Group.  This receipt is required to place you on payroll.  The Social Security Card will be sent via regular mail normally within 10 business days.  The card is noted “Not Valid for Employment without DHS Authorization” however, you may legally be employed in the U.S. as long as you are able to present proper documentation for I-9 form verification.

  • Give copy of Social Security card to HR:  Once you receive your Social Security card (usually 2 weeks from date of application), please send a copy of the card to the HR Data Group.  You may do this by emailing a copy or if you prefer, you can bring the original card to the HR office or ISO on-campus office hours and we will make a copy to place in your file.  Please make sure to do this as soon as you receive your card.

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