ATTENTION

COVID-19 has affected the process of applying for a social security number; please visit this page for important, up-to-date information until processes have returned to normal.

What is a Social Security Number?

The Social Security Number is a nine digit number that is unique to you only and is used for tax-payer identification, income reporting, and other official record keeping purposes.

A Social Security Number Card is an important identifying document. Please make sure you keep it in a safe place to avoid identity theft. Do not carry your card with you. Keep it in a safe place with your other important papers! 

To learn more about what a Social Security Number is please visit the Social Security website.

Remember: Social Security Numbers are not valid forms of work authorization! Please read the employment section to learn about student and exchange visitor work authorization on and off campus.

How long does it take to get a Social Security Number?

It takes about two to four weeks for an Social Security Number card to be issued. You are allowed to start working with just a letter/receipt from the Social Security Administration stating you have applied for a Social Security Number. However, this is at the discretion of your employer. Typically, if an employer will be doing a background check they will only accept a Social Security Number before you can start working. Please talk with the Human Resources Department of your employer about their policy.

Remember! Social Security numbers are not valid forms of work authorization! Please read the employment section to learn about student and exchange visitor employment on and off campus.

When can I apply for a Social Security Number?

F-1 students

  • If you have Curricular Practical Training Authorization, you can apply 30 days before the start date of your Curricular Practical Training
  • If you have Optional Practical Training Authorization, you can apply after you have both your I-20 with Optional Practical Training endorsement and your Employment Authorization card
  • If you are working on campus, you can apply after you receive your On-Campus Employment Letter from the Office of Global Services

J-1 students

  • If you have Academic Training Authorization, you can apply 30 days before the start date of your Academic Training
  • If you are working on-campus, you can apply after your receive your On-Campus Employment Letter from the Office of Global Services

What documents do I need?

Please note that X equals document is required.

Where do I apply?

After collecting all required documentation, you can apply for your Social Security Number with the Social Security Administration. The Social Security Administration has a few locations in the Boston area. When applying for your Social Security Number, you will need to go in person to one of the Social Security Administration locations.

Generally, there are three convenient locations for Northeastern students studying at the Boston campus:

  • Social Security Administration
    10 Causeway Street
    Boston, MA 02222
  • Social Security Administration
    10 Fawcett Street
    Cambridge, MA 02138
  • Social Security Administration
    10 Malcolm X Blvd.
    Roxbury, Ma 02119

For Northeastern students studying at the Seattle campus:

  • Social Security Administration
    Suite 901
    915 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98174

If you are not located in Boston or Seattle, you can find the nearest Social Security Office near you here.

How do I apply for Social Security Numbers?

BOSTON CAMPUS ONLY

 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) no longer requires appointments in order to visit an office, and has reverted to the pre-pandemic process of accepting applicants on a walk-in basis.  This means you should no longer mail or fax in documents.

 

Additionally, the SSA has launched a new online portal: OSSNAP – Online Social Security Number Application Portal allows you to enter your personal information prior to your visit to the SSA, so that when you go to the office, the SSA representative will only need to verify your information and check your documents.

 

OGS strongly encourages students to complete the online application prior to visiting the SSA office in person.  It will save time and speed up the process for you.

 

Please note that the SSA is only able to process your SSN application up to 30 days prior to your employment start date.

 

How do I apply for a Social Security Number (SSN)?

  1. First, you will need to gain proper documentation from OGS, either an on-campus employment letter or Stipended Graduate Assistantship (SGA) letter (if you have an on-campus job or SGA) or an I-20 with CPT authorization on the second page (if you have a co-op/internship/etc.). You will need to submit the Letter Request or the CPT request to OGS and receive approval before visiting the SSA.
    F-1 On-Campus Employment Authorization Letter Request
    J-1 On-Campus Employment Authorization Letter Request
    SGA Social Security Number Letter Request
    CPT Authorization RequestPlease note that the SSA office will not be able to process your SSN application if you do not have the proper documentation from OGS.
  2. Visit OSSNAP – Online Social Security Number Application Portal and start your SSN application by answering the questions online.
  3. After completing the online application, note down the confirmation number. You must take the confirmation number and visit one of the SSA offices (ideally one closest to your residential address) within 45 days, but not more than 30 days before your employment start date.

 

Please keep in mind that masks are still required inside all SSA offices.

 

For all other campuses, please continue to contact your local SSA office to understand their process. We will continue to update our website as more information becomes available.

Key Resources

Social Security Number Instructions »

Use this information to apply for a SSN.