Your Social Security Number
A Social Security Number (SSN) is for employment purposes only. It is not a work permit. You can apply for a SSN if you have a job and have been in the US for at least 10 days. If you have a position, you can apply for your number beginning 30 days before the job-start date listed on your employer letter.
There is no fee for a Social Security number and card—they are free.
The nine-digit number is issued by the Social Security Administration once, and you keep it for life. You need the number for many job-related situations in the US, including getting paid, and paying taxes.
Visit the Social Security Administration for more information.
Who is eligible to apply for a Social Security Number?
- F-1 students with a job offer letter and CPT or OPT work authorization by International Programs and Services or an I-20 sponsor, or who are receiving graduate support or funding from Michigan Tech
- J-1 students with a job offer and work permission from their DS-2019 sponsor
- J-1 visiting scholars
- J-2 dependents with an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) issued by USCIS.
You Need to Know
F-2 dependents are not eligible for Social Security Numbers.
F-1 and J-1 Student Application Dates
New students must wait at least 14 days after I-20/DS-2019s are activated and cannot apply earlier than 30 days before their employment start date for on-campus employment, CPT, or OPT.
J-1 Scholar Application Dates
New J-1 visiting scholars must wait at least 14 days after their DS-2019s have been activated
To apply for a Social Security Number, please fill out the IPS form to obtain your support letter — to fill out the form correctly, you will need your job offer letter. We will notify you when the support letter is ready. You will take it with you when you go in person to the Social Security Office.
Take all of these documents:
- Valid passport
- Valid I-94
- All original I-20s (For F-1 visa only)
- All original DS-2019s (For J-1 visa only)
- Letter of employment from Michigan Tech hiring department on letterhead
- Support letter from IPS
Where to Go
Houghton Social Security Office
902 Razorback Drive, Suite 3
Houghton, MI 49931
While your SSN is Pending
You can begin work—and be paid—while you wait for your Social Security number to be issued. You must have applied for it. You must apply for and receive a SSN to legally work in the US.
For more details about working while you are waiting for your number, see item 1C in the Social Security Administration Policy Regarding Foreign Students.
Protect Your Social Security Number
SSNs are often used by financial institutions, businesses, and others as a unique identification number. Identity thieves often target SSNs. Guard yours carefully.
- Never carry your Social Security card or number with you. Instead, memorize your number. Keep the card at home in a secure place.
- Only give your SSN to someone who has a specific and legitimate need for it.*
- Be careful who sees or asks for forms, applications, or other materials with your SSN on them.
- Never give your SSN out over the phone.
- Do not reply to email or websites that request your SSN.
- You do not need a SSN to open bank accounts.
- Don't say your number out loud in public. If you need to give it to a bank teller or someone for identity purposes, write it down, then shred the paper.
*Some examples when you might be legitimately asked to provide your number: for insurance, employer payroll, financial transactions over $10,000, or when applying for credit or loans.