Need an SSN? Start With These 4 Simple Steps

Are you a new student or employee still settling in and establishing your life in the U.S.? If so, getting a social security number is probably one of your top priorities. Once you get an SSN, more doors will open when it comes to options for work, finding the perfect home, and achieving long-lasting financial success, but it can be hard at first to know which steps to take for your visa type and the nature of your time living in the U.S.

1.Know where to start if you’re a student

F-1, M-1, and J-1 students can follow a similar process to anyone else applying for an SSN, but there are a few extra considerations to take into account. Firstly, let your university know your intentions of getting an SSN and then wait at least 48 hours before following through with the application. This lag time gives the Department of Human Services time to verify your identity with your school records.

International students who are applying for SSN need to know about a few extra forms. These are the Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant Student Status (Form I-20), the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (Form DS-2019) for J-1 students, and the form I-776 work permit for F-1 and M-1 students. You can download them through the U.S. Social Security website. Get in touch with campus resources at your university to find someone who can help you through the process. It’s always nice to have someone who knows these forms backwards and forwards to go over them with you.

2. Take the SSN route for your K-1 through K-4 visa type

As you know, there are several types of U.S. visas. Therefore it’s crucial to follow the steps for getting an SSN that correlate to your visa type. This determines which forms you need to fill out to acquire your card, but it also has an impact on which paperwork needs to be in place to verify your eligibility to work and study in the U.S. Starting from the right place means the process will be faster and easier — so you can stay focused on work, school, and getting to know new friends.

3. Print the SS-5 application

The most important form you’ll need to access is the Application for a Social Security Card (SS-5). This and other forms are available online through the U.S. Social Security website. In addition, you will also fill out forms that are specific to your visa type.

4. Find help at your local SSA office

The majority of this process can be done online and through the mail, but it can also prove useful to sit down with an expert who can walk you through the details so you know you’re not missing anything important. Visiting a local SSA office will help you feel at ease knowing your paperwork has been reviewed by an expert and that you’re on the right track to getting an SSN.

It may seem like following the necessary steps to getting an SSN creates a bit of a tangled web, but it can be a very straightforward process once you have the right information. For more tips on making the most of living in the U.S. as a global citizen, visit us at