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Social Security Number

Social Security Number Application Information for International Students, Scholars, Faculty, and Dependents:

Eligible visa types:

International students, scholars and faculty who are eligible to work in the U.S. can apply for a social security number (SSN) at a Social Security Administration office. SSNs are needed for payroll purposes, and for U.S. tax filings. Individuals in J-2 status who have applied for and received an Employment Authorization Document (card) may also apply for a social security number.  F-1 students may apply for an SSN if they have one of the following:

  1. Evidence of a job on campus, and a letter confirming this from the supervisor and the International Advisor
  2. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) work authorization endorsement on page 2 of the I-20 form. 
  3. Valid Employment Authorization Card, with current start date, for Optional Practical Training (OPT), International Organization Training, or Economic Hardship Employment

Ineligible visa types:

Individuals in F-2, H-4, TD or O-3 status will not be issued social security numbers.  F-1 students who are not working on or off campus are also not eligible for a U.S. social security number.  For tax form filing purposes, these individuals will need to apply for Individual Taxpayer ID Numbers (ITIN’s), issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You may access the following website to download the ITIN application form and instructions (from W-7).  

How to apply for a Social Security Card:

Please be advised that the Social Security Office must verify a foreign national’s immigration status with the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (CIS) before issuing a social security number.  We recommend that non-U.S. citizens wait ten days following their entry to the U.S., before going to the Social Security Office to apply for the SSN. When you apply be sure to get a receipt from the office, verifying that you have applied. We have verified with the Dartmouth Payroll Office that they will continue to put people on Payroll, even before the ten day waiting period is over.

You must submit originals and complete copies of the following documents, to a Social Security Office in person (locations and directions are listed below):

  • I-20 form issued (for F-1 students), DS-2019 form issued (for J-1 or J-2 visa holders), valid I-797 (for H-1B workers or O-1 visa holders), or passport/I-94 endorsement (for TN status holders)
  • Valid passport (copy of passport ID page and renewal page if appropriate)
  • Valid or Expired visa, if you have one – (Canadians are visa exempt)
  • Valid I-94 admission stamp with electronic print-out (if you entered the U.S. by air or sea; electronic Form I-94s can be accessed here) or I-94 card (front and back copies) if you entered by land
  • Social security card application form (Form SS-5) – available at the Social Security Office, or online at:

Additional documents needed depending on status:

  • For J-1’s: Letter of authorization verifying eligibility for on-campus or off-campus employment, and the job currently offered or held, from the Office of Visa and Immigration Services. Please click here to request this authorization letter.
  • For F-1 students, a letter from your immediate supervisor, on their letterhead, verifying your on campus employment, signed by both your employment supervisor and your International Advisor. 

This F-1 student letter template is available online (F-1 General/F-1 PhD).  Please have your supervisor download it, print it out on department letterhead, and complete and sign it in blue ink.  You must then bring it to the Office of Visa and Immigration Services for certification by your International Advisor.

Note that SSA guidelines require the F-1 or J-1 employment authorization to be valid for at least 14 days into the future to issue a SS number/card.

F and J students: you may not work more than 20 hours per week during enrolled terms.  Please make certain that your letter does not indicate more than 20 hours per week.

  • For J-2 dependents: Employment Authorization Document (temporary work card)
  • For H-1B, TN and O-1 status holders: Letter of appointment or employment offer

If you are employed at or receiving funding from Dartmouth College, you should not need to go to the payroll office until after you have waited for ten days, applied for the SSN, and gotten the receipt notice proving that you have applied from the Social Security Office.  You will still be paid from your first date of hire, as long as the other department paperwork has been correctly filed (Payroll Authorization (PA) form, I-9 form).

When to apply for a Social Security Card:

Any individual allowed to work in the U.S. according to their immigration status is eligible to apply for a SSN

F-1 students need to apply in accordance with the following regulations:

F-1 students working on-campus and students working on CPT (Curricular Practical Training) can apply for a SSN 30 days before the start date of their job. If they apply earlier than that, their applications will not be processed by the Social Security Administration.

F-1 students on OPT (Optional Practical Training), working off-campus, cannot apply for a SSN until the start date on their EAD card. If they apply for a SSN earlier than the start date on their EAD card, their applications will not be processed by the Social Security Administration.

* Effective  November 19, 2012, Social Security field offices nationwide will close to the  public 30 minutes early each day.**  For  example, a field office that is usually open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. will close daily at 3:00 p.m.  In addition, beginning January 2, 2013,  offices will close to the public at noon every Wednesday (Social Security Press Release, November 7, 2012).

Where to apply for a Social Security Card:

You will need to go in person to a Social Security Administration office.  Directions to local offices are:

Concord, NH

70 Commercial Street, Suite 100, Concord, NH 03301       603-224-1939

Driving Directions: From the Hanover Inn corner (Main Street/Wheelock Street) take Wheelock Street west towards Norwich, Vermont. After crossing the bridge, follow the signs to Interstate 91 South. Take I-91 South to I-89 South. Proceed to Concord (about an hour's drive). Take I-93 North to I-393 / Route 4 to Commercial Street. At the first light east of Main Street, go past the Marriot Hotel. The Social Security Office is on the first floor of the office building on the right, just next to the Marriot. There is a sign on the door that you can see from the parking lot.

Keene, NH

9 Elm Street, Keene, NH 03431
(603) 352-3487  or   (800) 772-1213

Driving Directions: From the Hanover Inn corner (Main Street/Wheelock Street). Take Wheelock Street west towards Norwich, Vermont. After crossing the bridge, follow the signs to Interstate 91 South.  Follow I-91 south to exit 5 toward US-5/Westminster/Walpole, NH.  Turn left onto Westminster St. Turn right onto US-5 South. Slight left onto VT-123 East. Turn left to stay on VT-123 East, entering to New Hampshire. Continue onto NH-123 East. Turn right onto NH-12 South. Turn left to stay on NH-125 South. Take the Maple Ave/New Hampshire 12A Exit toward Surry. Turn left onto Maple Ave. At the traffic circle, take the 1st Exit onto Court St. Continue straight to stay on Court St. Turn left onto Mechanic St. Turn right at the 1st cross street onto Elm St.

**  Greyhound Bus Lines leaves out of White River, VT to Keene.  Please check out their website for information

Littleton, NH

177 Main Street, Littleton, NH 03561
(603) 444-2945  or   (800) 772-1213

Driving Directions: From the Hanover Inn corner (Main Street/Wheelock Street) take Wheelock Street west towards Norwich, Vermont. After crossing the bridge, follow the signs to Interstate 91 North. Take I-91 north to exit 17. Take New Hampshire State Route 302 East into the town of Littleton. The Social Security Administration is located on Main Street (Route 302) in Littleton. The office is in a one-story, brick building with a flat roof. The building is across the street (though not directly) from Dunkin' Donuts.

Last Updated: 8/14/18