October 17, 2016
Getting a social security number is one of the first things on many people’s minds as they settle in as new students or workers in the United States. Having an SSN opens doors for more options with employment, housing, and financial well being, but it can be tricky to know which steps to take for your visa type and the nature of your time living in the U.S.
F-1, M-1, and J-1 students can follow much the same process as anyone else applying for an SSN, but there are a few extra considerations to make. Firstly, let your university know that you’re applying for one and then wait at least 48 hours before following through with the application. This lag time gives the Department of Human Services time to check your identity with your school records.
Extra forms for international students applying for SSNs are the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant 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. Download these forms through the U.S. Social Security website, and get in touch with campus resources at your university to find someone who can help you through the process.
There are several types of U.S. visas, and it’s crucial to follow the steps for getting an SSN that correlate to your visa type. This will determine 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.
The main form you’ll need to access is the Application for a Social Security Card (SS-5). This and other forms can be found online through the U.S. Social Security website. In addition, you will also fill out forms that are specific to your visa type.
While the majority of this process can be done online and through the mail, it always helps to sit down with an expert who can walk you through the details. 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.
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, subscribe to the ModernLend blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.