UMD: A Globally Connected University

Social Security

(International Students)

Social Security Numbers are issued for tax purposes only. They are used to identify you within the government tax and pension system. Only those who have authorized employment are eligible for Social Security cards. They are not general purpose IDs. Accordingly, you do not need a Social Security number to:

  • open a bank account
  • rent an apartment
  • open a utility account (e.g. electricity, gas)
  • set up a cell phone account
  • register your children for school
  • conduct business with other financial institutions
  • Receive a driver's license

If a business representative or service provider asks you for a Social Security number, simply inform him/her that you are an international student and do not have a Social Security Card.

However, as a nonimmigrant in the U.S., you will need a Social Security Number if you wish to work. A Social Security card is not proof of work authorization.

F-2 and H-4 dependents are not eligible for SSNs in most cases. Those who are not eligible for a SSN may apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) from the Internal Revenue Service.

Procedures

To apply for an SSN go to the nearest SSA office and bring the following:

#1. Name- Use the name on your I-20/DS-2019 and I-94.  If you have a middle name include it with your first name.

#2. Mailing Address- Use your local address

#3. Citizenship- check "Legal Alien Allowed to Work"

#8. A. Mother's Maiden Name- This is the name of your mother's given name before she was married (if different).
B. Mother's Social Security Number- If your mother ever lived in the U.S. and had a Social Security Number, put it here. If not, leave this blank.

#9. A. Father's Name- Your father's family name
B. Father's Social Security Number- If your father ever lived in the U.S. and had a Social Security Number, put it here. If not, leave this blank.

  • A job confirmation letter from your employer on official letterhead (Sample Letter)
  • Proof that you have accepted employment. This can be a pay stub or a letter indicating that you have accepted the offer, signed by you and your employer.
  • A letter from ISSS that verifies your status. Request a Social Security Letter by logging into your iTerp account and navigating to F-1 Student Services>Letter Request. (Not required if you are applying based on your approved CPT or OPT work authorization.)
  • Your passport, original and copy. It must be at least one year old or you will need a second form of photo ID in English. (An official TOEFL score report at least one year old works well.)
  • I-94, original and copy.
  • I-20/DS-2019, original and copy.
  • Student or ID card.

**You must wait at least 10 business days after entering the U.S. to apply for a SSN. In addition, you must wait around 5 business days after you have submitted your immigration documents for Documents Check and completed SEVIS Verification.

**If you are applying for an SSN based on CPT or on-campus employment you may not apply more than 30 days prior to the start date indicated on your offer letter.

**If you are applying for an SSN based on off-campus employment which requires USCIS to issue an EAD card, you may not apply prior to the start date on your EAD card.

When you apply for an SSN, ask the service representative to give you a receipt for your application. Your department may place you on payroll before you receive the card if you have the receipt.

After you turn in your application to a social security representative, your documents will be returned to you. You will receive your SSN card by mail several weeks later.