Social Security Number

In the United States, citizens are given a Social Security Number (SSN) at birth. This number is a unique identifier. When a citizen works in the U.S., it is used to track payment of taxes and to receive benefits from the government.

Non-immigrants, such as international students, are issued an SSN when they have an eligible offer of employment (one that is within restrictions of the visa status). An SSN will be needed to pay taxes and file an annual tax return. Your SSN is good from the time you receive it, for as long as you are in the U.S. or if you ever return to the U.S. Protect it as you would your passport. This is the number one piece of information criminals can use to steal your identity.

social security sample

Internationals students must have an employment offer to be eligible to apply for an SSN. The Social Security Adminstration will not issue an SSN to an international students for other reasons, such as financing a loan or background checks. 

A social security number or card is NOT authorization to work. Look at the card. Notice that it says “valid for work only with DHS authorization.” In this instance, your DSO/ARO in International Affairs is your contact person for DHS authorization. Even with a SSN, you must work only and always in authorized employment. Always ask before beginning a new job or volunteer position.

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