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Obtaining a Social Security Card

Social Security numbers generally are assigned to people who are authorized to work in the United States in order to report their wages to the government. Many businesses, such as banks and credit companies, also ask for your number to access your personal information and to confirm your identity. A Social Security Card contains a unique 9-digit identification number that you will need to present to your employer in order to record your wage information with several U.S. agencies including but not limited to the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Services (IRS).

All non-immigrants (F-1, J-1, H1-B, J-2) who are authorized to work in the U.S. & have a job or job offer for paid employment must have a social security number. To apply for a Social Security Card you must visit your nearest Social Security Office and present the documents listed below.

For All Applicants

Documents You Will Need to Prepare and Present to the Social Security Office
  1. Letter of Employment Verification:
    • Tufts Students and Hiring Departments: Fill out an Evidence of Employment Letter and print using a color printer. Then bring it to the I Center for a signature.
    • Tufts Employees: Offer letter from sponsoring department or contract
    • Tufts Alumni on OPT: You may apply for the number on your OPT application or you can apply at the social security office by presenting your EAD card. 
  2. Social Security Application form
  3. Valid passport
  4. Valid visa document (F-1, Form I-20) (J-1, Form DS-2019) (H-1B, Form I-797) (Employment Authorization Document) etc.
  5. Form I-94 


The Fletcher School 

1. Evidence of Employment form (link above).

2. On-Campus Employment Procedures Guide


Processing Time

Normal processing of a Social Security card usually takes about 3 weeks, from the time that you submit your application at the Social Security office. The Social Security Administration will not accept your application unless you are presenting them with ALL of the above-mentioned documentation. In addition, please note the following conditions depending on your category:

Current Students (F-1 and J-1) applying for a Social Security Card

F-1 and J-1 students must register full time at Tufts and must have an on-campus job offer before applying for a Social Security card. Students who pursue CPT are eligible to apply for a social security number up to 30 days before the start date of your paid internship.

Tufts Employees (Students and Faculty)

Be sure to ask the Social Security Administration for confirmation that you have applied for a number. Give this receipt letter to the person in your Tufts sponsoring department that is in charge of processing the Tufts paperwork to pay you. They will provide the Tufts Service Center with a copy of this letter, which will temporarily permit the Service Center to pay you while you wait for your social security card.

Alumni on OPT

The revised Form I-765-Application for Employment Authorization- from USCIS includes questions that allow applicants to apply for an SSN or replacement card without visiting a Social Security office. USCIS will transmit the additional data collected on the form to the SSA for processing. Applicants who receive their approved EADs from USCIS should receive their Social Security card from SSA within the following two weeks.

Students unable to request a SSN along with their OPT authorization will need to visit the SSA. When an OPT card is issued to an F-1 student, they need to wait until the "Valid From" date on the card to apply for an SSN. DHS will not be able to verify their immigration status before that date. 

Protect Your Social Security Number (SSN) and Card

Protect your Social Security Number (SSN) and card from loss and identity theft. It is not recommended to carry your SSN card with you. Keep your card and any other document that shows your SSN in a safe place. Keep it in a secure location and only take it with you when you must show the card when applying for a new job, to open a bank account or benefits from a U.S. agency. Use caution in giving out your SSN to others, particularly during phone, mail, email and Internet requests you did not initiate.

For more information about protecting your Social Security number from identity theft please read this informative brochure from the Social Security Administration: Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number.

Other General Information

  • If you are a Tufts International Student, you will be issued a seven-digit Tufts Identification Number. This is NOT a Social Security Number;
  • International Faculty and Research Scholars sometimes are issued a temporary number by Tufts Campus Police when applying for their Tufts Identification card. This, too, is NOT a Social Security Number;
  • Faculty and Research Scholars must notify their Tufts Sponsoring Department and the Payroll Department of their Social Security Number;
  • International Students must report their Social Security Number to the Student Services Desk in Dowling Hall, in order to be paid by Tufts University. You must show the actual card, not a copy.
Locate the Social Security Office Closest To You

The telephone number for all Social Security offices is 1-800-772-1213. All Social Security offices are open between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Wednesday.

  • From the Medford Campus: 10 Fawcett Street, Cambridge.
  • From the Boston Campus: O'Neil Federal Building, 10 Causeway Street, Boston.
  • From the Grafton Campus: 51 Myrtle Street, Madison Place Plaza, Worcester.

Visit the Social Security website

Open a Bank Account

If you need to open a bank account before you obtain your Social Security Number, explain that you are a newly-arrived non-immigrant. They will have you complete a W-8 form which permits you to open a bank account without a Social Security Number.

Obtain a Driver's License

If you are not eligible for a Social Security Number and need to obtain a driver's license, present your passport, visa document and I-94 print out at the Social Security Administration office and request a "Social Security Denial Letter" for you to present at the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Learn More about obtaining a driver's license