UMD: A Globally Connected University

Social Security

Social Security

Social Security Numbers are issued for tax purposes only. They are used to identify you within the government tax and pension system. 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/scholar 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.

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.


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

#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.

  • Completed SSN application
    • If you are a Student Intern, you will need a letter from ISSS to verify your status: Request a Social Security Letter by logging into iTerp.
    • If you are a Research Scholar or Short Term Scholar, you do not need a letter verifying your status.
  • 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 (print out from
  • DS-2019, original and copy
  • Student or faculty ID card

**You may apply for a social security number once you have checked in at ISSS and have been in the US for at least 10 days.

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.