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Payroll Documents - Social Security Number

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a permanent nine-digit identification number/card issued by the United States Government. It is used primarily for taxing income in order to provide retirement and medical benefits. For tax purposes, anyone receiving income must provide a Social Security number to their U.S. employer.

COVID-19 Update

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is closed to drop-in applications due to COVID-19. The office is now offering appointments to those who need to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN).

There are a number of steps you must take in the application process. Expect it will take approximately 6 weeks to receive your SSN from the time you complete Step 1. Follow all steps in the process closely to avoid errors that could lead to a delay. If you are employed on-campus, contact your employer's Human Resources department to discuss completing the necessary paperwork to begin work before you receive an SSN.

STEP 1: Mail/Drop box the following SSN application materials to the SSA office:

  1. Completed Form SS-5 Application for a Social Security Card 
  2. Copy of passport biographical “picture” page
  3. Copy of F-1 or J-1 visa (except citizens of Canada)
  4. Copy of I-20 (pages 1 and 2) or DS-2019
  5. Most Recent I-94 (print from: http://i94.cbp.dhs.gov
  6. Appropriate additional application materials

Additional application materials:

  • Most F-1 and J-1 visa holders will need to include a copy of some additional documentation with their SSN application. The documentation you need to provide depends on your visa type or type of employment. See the “Additional Materials” list under the “What do I need to bring with me to apply for a Social Security Number” drop down on this page.
  • F-1 students with Graduate Assistantships or On-Campus Hourly Jobs: Please note that the SSA is temporarily accepting electronic employer and DSO signatures on the “Verification of On-Campus Job” letter (z.umn.edu/ssletter). This letter must still be printed on your employing department’s letterhead. Send a completed copy of this letter with your mail-in application.

Mail the copies of your application materials to the following address:

SSA Social Security Administration
1811 Chicago Avenue
Room 2
Minneapolis, MN 55404

STEP 2: Wait for an appointment letter from the SSA:

Your designated in-person appointment date and time will be sent to you via U.S. mail approximately one month after you send your mail-in application and three weeks if you use the SSA Drop Box. The appointment letter will be sent to the address you enter on your Form SS-5. It is important that you enter an address on your SS-5 that you will stay at for at least 2 months, as your SSN card will be sent to the same address when it is ready.

STEP 3: Attend your in-person interview at the date and time designated on your appointment letter

Bring the following original documents to your in-person interview:

  1. Passport & F-1 or J-1 visa
  2. I-20 or DS-2019
  3. Most recent I-94
  4. Original of any additional application materials required for your visa type or type of employment (F-1 students with a graduate assistantship or other on-campus employment, bring your original “Verification of On-Campus Employment” letter)
PLEASE NOTE: If you are are more than 15 minutes late for your appointment, your appointment will need to be rescheduled.

STEP 4: Wait for your SSN card to be mailed to you

It will be sent by U.S. mail to the address entered on your Form SS-5.

PLEASE NOTE: You should only use an address where your name will appear on the mailbox. USPS cannot deliver a SSN Card to an address that does not have the applicant’s name on the mailbox.

If you have any questions about your application, scheduled appointment, or SSN card, you must contact the SSA Twin Cities Card Center directly at 888-847-0392.

Important Note:

It is important that you protect your Social Security number as criminals can use this information to pretend to be you (a crime called "identity theft" that can cause significant long-term problems for victims). Do not carry your Social Security card or your Social Security number with you. Once you receive your card, memorize your number and store the card in a secure place.

Do not tell others your SSN unless it is absolutely required.

Application Questions

Who Is Eligible for a Social Security Number?

  • F-1 Students must have a job offer to apply for an SSN.
  • F-2 Dependents may not work in the U.S., and they, therefore, do not qualify for an SSN. The Social Security Administration will not accept their applications.
  • J-1 Students must have a social security authorization letter from the issuing authority on item 2 of their DS-2019 (see below).
  • J-1 Scholars (Research Scholars, Short Term Scholars, Professors) are automatically eligible for an SSN.
  • J-2 Dependents may apply for SSN only if they secure work permission (and get an Employment Authorization Document) through USCIS. Instructions for obtaining J-2 work permission are found here.  Contact a J adviser, if you have questions.
  • H-1B Employees are automatically eligible for an SSN.
  • H-4 Dependents may work in special circumstances. More information is available in the H-1B portion of our website.

All F-2 , J-2 and H-4 Dependents who do not qualify for a Social Security number can obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). The ITIN is an identification number that can be used for tax filing or some other specific legal purpose.

How Do I Apply for a U.S. Social Security Number?

To obtain a Social Security number, you must apply in person at the local Social Security Administration office. Follow the procedures below depending upon your type of non-immigrant status. The name you put on your Social Security application needs to match the name you have on your I-20/ DS-2019/ I-797, your passport, your I-94 card, and your University of Minnesota records.

When Should I Apply Social Security Number?

Your application cannot be processed if:

  • Your on-campus or CPT work begins more than 30 days from your application date, or
  • The employment start date on your work permit from the DHS (Form I-766) is a future date.

If you are a new student starting at the University of Minnesota, it is important that you consider the following information to ensure you travel to the SSA office at a time when your request can be processed.

  • New Students: You should wait at least 10 days after you register for classes and update your address in MyU to go to the SSA office. The SSA must be able to verify your Port of Entry record and UMN course registration in SEVIS, and it can take 10 days for the information to be available in their system. Your application will be denied if you apply before this information has been fully processed, and you will be required to make a second trip to the Social Security Administration office.
  • SEVIS Transfer Students (Students who are having their SEVIS record transferred from another institution in the U.S.): You will need to present your Transfer Completed I-20 at the SSA, so you should not go to the SSA until you have this document.

Where Do I Go to Apply for Social Security Number?

Social Security Administration Office

1811 Chicago Avenue, Suite 2, Minneapolis

Office hours: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Phone: 800-772-1213. Website: www.ssa.gov

What Do I Need to Bring With Me to Apply for a Social Security Number?

Standard Documents

You must show the following documents to complete an application:

  • Valid Passport
  • Valid I-94 record or card
  • I-20, DS-2019 or I-797 Approval Notice

Additional Materials (depending on your status)

  • F-1 Students with Graduate Assistantships or On-Campus Hourly Jobs: In addition to the above, F-1 students need proof of a job or a job offer (from the hiring department) and verification of employment from a Designated School Official (DSO) in ISSS. You must have your Employing Department download and print the form letter “Verification of F-1 Student’s On-campus Job” on department letterhead and fill out Section 1. You must then bring the form to ISSS so a DSO can complete Section 2. Please be aware that the SSA will not accept your letter if it is not printed on department letterhead, if it has an electronic signature, or if it does not have a DSOs signature in Section 2.
  • F-1 Students with an Employment Authorization Document: Under certain circumstances, F-1 students can obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that permits them to work off-campus. In most cases, F-1 students with an EAD are on Optional Practical Training. F-1 students who have an EAD need to submit the standard documents listed above, and they should show their EAD when they apply. No employer letter is necessary. No DSO letter is necessary.
  • F-1 Students on Curricular Practical Training: All F-1 students need to submit the standard documents listed above. The I-20 must be properly endorsed with DSO authorization for CPT on page 3. No employer letter is necessary, but a copy of an offer letter may be helpful.
  • J-1 Students who have document issued by the University of Minnesota: J-1 students with “University of Minnesota” listed in Item 2 of their DS-2019 must email ISSS and request a “J-1 Social Security Authorization letter” verifying your full-time enrollment and employment authorization at the U of Minnesota. J-1 students must submit this letter in addition to the standard documents listed above.
  • J-1 Students who have documents not issued by the University of Minnesota: J-1 students with a sponsor other than “University of Minnesota” in Item 2 of their DS-2019 must get a social security authorization letter from the issuing authority listed on item 2 of their DS-2019. J-1 students must submit this letter in addition to the standard documents listed above.
  • J-1 Scholars - J-1 scholars with “University of Minnesota” listed in Item 2 of their DS-2019, must submit the standard documents listed in Step 1 above. No additional letters are required.
  • J-2 Dependents: All J-2 Dependents need to need to submit the standard documents listed above, and should show their EAD (work authorization card)when they apply. J-2’s are not eligible for a SSN if they do not have an EAD.

On-Campus Employment

What Do I Do Next If I Will Work On-Campus?

All new employees at the University of Minnesota must complete an I-9 Form at Payroll services on or before their first day of employment. If you have not already, review the process to ensure you will complete all of the necessary steps.

Once you receive your Social Security card and number in the mail, you must bring your Social Security Number to your unit's Human Resources office. It must be entered in the UMN's Human Resources and I-9 system.

If you are eligible for tax treaty benefits, you must make another appointment with Payroll Services to complete your tax treaty paperwork once you receive your Social Security Number. You will not be able to take advantage of any tax benefits until you report your SSN and complete this second appointment.

GPS