What Is a Social Security Number?
A Social Security Number (SSN) is a 9-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents and certain non-residents by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Its primary purpose is to track individuals for taxation purposes. It is not intended to be used for identification purposes and cannot be used as work authorization.
Per current legislation SSNs can only be issued to someone who:
- Is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.
- Has a valid job offer and is eligible for legal employment.
Currently SSNs are only issued to non-residents who have an employment offer and are eligible for work authorization. Dependents in F-2 status are not eligible for an SSN since they are not permitted to work.
Please note that students do not need an SSN to register for classes at MIIS, get a driver’s license in California, open a bank account, obtain a cell phone, or rent a place to live.
The SSA provides more information on SSNs for international students.
Students and scholars who are not eligible for an SSN may be eligible for a Tax Identification Number (ITIN) to use for filing taxes during tax season reporting.
Getting a Social Security Number
There are specific guidelines and procedures that international students must follow when applying for a Social Security Number from the Social Security Administration. Read below for more information on how the application process works.
Requirements and Procedures
For on-campus (work-study) positions:
- Complete your paperwork with the Human Resources office.
- Obtain the SSN Packet from HR
- The SSN Packet contains three forms that need to be completed: Letter Request (completed by the student), Job Offer (completed by the on-campus supervisor) and SS-5 (completed by the student).
- Once the Letter Request and Job Offer letter are completed, bring these to the Office of Student Services and a support letter will be generated.
For Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
- Complete the CPT Application Process
- After the CPT Request has been processed, an I-20 with CPT Approval will be issued and you will receive an email stating it is ready to pick up
For Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- Apply for OPT through USCIS
- Receive your work authorization card (EAD)
To apply for your SSN, you will need the following documents:
- Valid Passport
- Original SEVIS I-20 document (for F-1 visa holders) or DS-2019 (for J-1)
- A valid I-94 card: this can be retrieved at - www.cbp.gov/i94
- Proof of employment eligibility (job offer letter/support letter from Student Services, I-20 endorsed for CPT or EAD card from USCIS)
For on-campus and CPT employment, a student can apply for a SSN up to 30 days before your work start date. For OPT, a student must have their EAD card AND it must be the first day of your work authorization period.
To minimize any delays please bring originals of all documents. The SSA does not accept any photo copies of documents. ;A Social Security Number and card will be issued within two weeks of receiving certification from the Department of Homeland Security.
Social Security Administration Locations
The closest Social Security Administration office to the Institute campus is located at:
928 E. Blanco Rd., Suite 155
Salinas, CA 93901
1-800-772-1213 or 1-877-600-2857