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This information is an update on Social Security Administration (SSA) procedures for international students and scholars who need to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). Any student or scholar who is working while physically present in the US must apply for a SSN if they do not already have one. In order to qualify:

  • You must have valid employment (such as an on-campus job or practical training approval) while physically present in the US
  • The employment must be currently ongoing or due to start within 30 days of the time of application

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SSA offices are still closed to walk-in traffic. For the interim, several SSA offices in the Boston and Cambridge area are allowing students and scholars to apply for a SSN by appointment. We urge any student or scholar who is working in the US without a SSN to start the SSN application process as soon as possible to avoid possible future delays with your tax reporting and filing requirements.

To apply for a SSN by appointment, review our Social Security and ITIN information page or follow these steps:

  • Prepare copies of your immigration and employment documents, which include your passport ID Page, your I-20 or DS-2019 (for F-1 or J-1 visa holders), a printout of your I-94 admission record, and additional evidence of employment
    • F-1 students with on-campus jobs should download and work with your on-campus department to complete an F-1 Evidence of On-Campus Employment form; once your department has signed the form, please contact the International Center for an international student advisor's signature
  • Call the Social Security office closest to you and explain that you have US-based employment and are being required by your school or employer to apply for a SSN:
  • Follow Social Security's instructions for sending copies of your documents to their office (usually by fax)
    • If you do not have access to a fax machine, you can ask your on-campus employer to send the documents for you (if they are open) or use a private service such as the UPS Store
    • There may also be on-line fax software programs; however, be sure to check for cost (if any) and privacy and safety measures
    • Since you are transmitting personal and confidential information be sure to retain possession of all copies of your immigration and employment documents
  • Social Security will call you to arrange for an in-person application appointment
  • Bring all original documents with you to your appointment to complete the SSN application process
  • After receiving your application, SSA will mail you your SSN within 2-4 weeks

The entire application process may take over one month to schedule and arrange, as appointment availability is limited. However, we encourage students and scholars to proceed with the SSN application process if they are currently employed with Tufts. Please let us know if you have further questions by sending us a message at