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 once you have a job offer. You can apply as early as 30 days before the start date listed on your job offer letter from your employer.

New Students: Please wait to apply for your SSN until 14 days after your I-20/DS-2019 has been activated in the first semester. Your record will be activated at the end of the 2nd week of the semester. The SS Office system takes at least 2 weeks to update from SEVIS.

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 on-campus job offer letter or who are receiving graduate support or funding from Michigan Tech
  • F-1 students with an off-campus job offer letter and CPT or OPT work authorization by IPS or their I-20 sponsor
  • J-1 students with a job offer and work permission from their DS-2019 sponsor
  • J-1 visiting scholars with financial support from Michigan Tech
  • 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.


To apply for a Social Security Number, please fill out this request form to obtain a support letter from IPS — to fill out the form correctly, you will need the employment verification letter from your hiring department. We will notify you by email in 3-5 business days 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 the following original documents:

Where to Go

Houghton Social Security Office
902 Razorback Drive, Suite 3
Houghton, MI 49931. Phone: +1-800-772-1213

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.

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.