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Obtaining a Social Security Card

Getting a Social Security Number and Card

  • About Social Security Numbers and Cards
    • When a Social Security Number is Not Required
  • Determining Eligibility for a Social Security Number and Card
  • Applying for a Social Security Number and Card

About Social Security Numbers and Cards
A Social Security number (SSN) is used to report your wages to the U.S. government and to determine eligibility for Social Security benefits. Social Security numbers can be assigned to foreign workers who are authorized to work in the United States.

When a Social Security Number is Not Required
Social Security numbers are not required for the following situations:

Registration for Classes
It is not necessary to have a Social Security number in order to register for classes. Students use a nine-digit number called the Student A number to register for classes.
Banking
You do not need a Social Security number to open a bank account or for most other financial transactions. If you are an F1 visa holder, the bank may ask you to fill out Internal Revenue Service Form W-8BEN to prove that you are exempt from the requirement of providing a Social Security number.
Driver's License
Although some states require that you have a Social Security number in order to obtain a driver's license, the State of Michigan does not have such a requirement. Therefore, you do not need a Social Security number to obtain a driver's license in Michigan . However, you may need to sign a form confirming that you do not have a Social Security number. For more information, refer to the State of Michigan Secretary of State web site.

Determining Eligibility for a Social Security Number and Card
Eligibility for a Social Security number and card varies, depending on your situation.

Visa Type
Eligibility Requirements
F-1 students
Eligible only if you have evidence of authorization for the following situations:
  • On-campus employment
  • Curricular Practical Training (C.P.T.) with C.P.T. endorsement on page 3 of your I-20 form
  • Optional Practical Training (O.P.T.) with an Employment Authorization Document (E.A.D.) card.
    NOTE: F-1 students who were issued E.A.D. cards for other reasons (employment authorization due to severe economic hardship, for example) are also eligible to apply for a Social Security number.
F-2 dependents
Not eligible to receive a Social Security number.
J-1 students and scholars
Automatically eligible to apply for a Social Security number.
J-2 dependents
Eligible to apply for a Social Security number only if you are a J-2 dependent who has applied for work authorization and received your Employment Authorization Document (E.A.D.).
H-1B employees
Automatically eligible to apply for a Social Security number.
H-4 dependents
Not eligible to receive a Social Security number

Applying for a Social Security Number and Card
If you are eligible to apply for a Social Security number, you will need to apply through the Social Security Administration office.  To locate an office near you, please visit the SSA website at https://secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/FOLO/fo001.jsp.
You will need to bring the following documents:

  • A completed Application for a Social Security Card form (SS-5). You can also ask the Social Security Office for an application if you have not prepared one in advance.
  • Passport
  • I-94 card (and two copies with legible entry stamps)
  • I-20 form (and two copies with legible entry stamps)
  • Proof of employment eligibility
F-1 students With on-campus employment:
Social Security Letter for WCCCD F-1 Students pdf icon
Curricular Practical Training (C.P.T.): I-20 with C.P.T. endorsement on the third page
Optional Practical Training (O.P.T.): U.S.C.I.S. Employment Authorization Document (E.A.D.) card

You will receive a Social Security card in the mail approximately one to two weeks after applying for it. If you have questions while waiting to receive your Social Security number, contact the Social Security Administration directly at 800.772.1213.

 
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