Social Security Number Application

A Social Security Number (SSN) is used by employers and employees for tax-reporting purposes only. The employer needs to withhold taxes on your earnings using your unique number, and you need your social security number when you file a tax return.

Social Security Application Graphic
Orange Divider


Social Security Number Application
Orange Divider

Before You Apply

In general, all international students and scholars need to have authorized employment to be eligible to apply for a number from the Social Security Agency (SSA), a federal agency. Two important exceptions are:

  • First year F-1 doctoral fellowship recipients who will be paid a “non-work” stipend the first year only and will later have teaching or research responsibilities
  • All J-1 research and short-term scholars

F and J students and J-1 scholars must have an active SEVIS record. 

This means you must have submitted an ISSO online report of your arrival at least 2 days before applying for an SSN, which changes your SEVIS status from "initial" to "active". If you have not done so yet, follow the instructions on the link below:​​​​​​

Page Divider

How to Apply

Social Security Card Timeline
Step 1

Gather your documents

If you applied for an SSN through the I-765 OPT application, you do not need to follow these instructions to apply in person. Generally you will receive the SSN in the mail a few weeks after you receive the EAD. 

Step 2

Go to the Manhattan Social Security Card Center and bring all your documents

123 William Street
New York, NY
(7:00 am - 4:00 pm Monday to Friday)

*Many subway lines including the #2, #3, and A lines go to Fulton Street station. Follow the signs for the William St. exit.


123 williams street
Step 3

Wait 1-2 weeks to receive your SSN in the mail

After you receive your SSN, we advise you not to carry the Social Security Card with you, but to memorize the number or make a note of it elsewhere and put the card in a safe place with your other important documents. We all need to be careful to avoid identity theft. Don't lose your card! Replacement is tricky.

Orange Page Divider

Replacing a Lost Social Security Card

The SSA will replace your card (and will give you the same number) only if you are currently eligible to get one. However, you may continue to use the number if you know it.