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Social Security Card
Application Procedures

To inform international students and scholars of the procedures that must be followed to obtain a Social Security card with an assigned Social Security Number.

What is a Social Security Card?

A Social Security Card provides a unique identification number that allows the United States government to monitor and tax wages earned by employees in the U.S.

Please note that a Social Security Card does not grant employment authorization, it simply provides a unique identifying number to allow employers to pay wages and deduct the appropriate taxes on behalf of the U.S. government.  Each different immigration classification has varying rules regarding possible employment authorization.


You must be physically present in the U.S. in an immigration classification that permits employment. With regard to specific classifications held by most Boston University international students and scholars, the following eligibility criteria also apply:


  1. Students in F-1 status are eligible under any of the following circumstances:

    1. If they have been offered an on-campus job or already begun working at an on-campus job

    2. If they have been granted Curricular Practical Training employment authorization

    3.  If they have been granted Optional Practical Training employment authorization and have received

    4. their Employment Authorization Document (EAD); and the validy period of the EAD has begun.

  1. Students in J-1 status sponsored by Boston University are eligible:

    1. At any time while pursuing their program of study.

    2. After completion of the program of study if the student has been granted Academc Training (AT) employment authorization.

  1. Students in J-1 status sponsored by an outside agency should consult with their Exchange Program Sponsor regarding their eligibility and the documentation they need to apply.

  2. Scholars in J-1 status are eligible at any time up to 15 days prior to the end of the period of their exchange program as indicated on their Form DS-2019.

  3. Scholars in H-1 or O-1 status are eligible at any time up to 15 days prior to the end of the approved period of employment as indicated on their I-797 Approval Notice.

  4. Scholars in TN status are eligible at any time up to 15 days prior to the end of the approved period of employment as indicated on their I-94 Arrival/Departure Record (Card).

  1. Students and scholars in possession of and Employment Authorization Document (EAD) are elgible to apply only after the validy period of the EAD has begun; and no later then 15 days prior to the expiration of the EAD. (Students in F-1 status, see #1 above).


When should you submit the Application for the Social Security Card?

If you have recently arrived in the U.S. for the first time in your current immigration classification, you must wait at least 10 business days after your date of arrival to submit an application for a Social Security card. This will allow the Department of Homeland Security adequate time to enter your arrival information in their database for verification purposes.

In addition, refer to the attached chart for other time restrictions.

You may submit an application for a Social Security card to the Social Security Administration in person on any business day (except holidays) between the hours of 9:00 am and 4:00 am . When possible, it is best to obtain the Social Security card prior to beginning any employment in the U.S. If you begin employment without a Social Security Number, you must inform your on-campus employer as soon as you receive your Social Security Number for payroll purposes.

What documents should you submit for an Application for a Social Security Card?

You must present ALL of the following documentation:

  1. A completed Application for a Social Security Card. The application form is available at the ISSO, on-line at , or at the Social Security Administration office.

  2. Unexpired foreign passport with U.S. visa stamped inside

  3. Original Form I-94 Departure card (small white card stapled into passport)

  4. Click here to see a chart of additional documents required, or download a full set of instructions which includes the chart of additional documents required.

Where should you submit the Application for a Social Security Card?

Social Security Administration
Thomas P. O’Neill Federal Office Building
10 Causeway Street Room 148
Boston, MA 02222
Telephone # (800) 772-1213

By MBTA: North Station "T" stop on the green or orange line; building is next to the TD Banknorth Garden. For a map to the office, go to:

Receiving Your Social Security Card and Number

The Social Security Administration may need some time to verify your current immigration status before they can issue a Social Security card. In most cases, a Social Security card should be mailed to the address you listed on your application form within 14 business days. If you do not receive a Social Security card within 30-60 days, you should contact the Social Security Administration via telephone at 1-800-772-1213 or visit the Social Security Administration website at: to inquire about the status of your pending application.

The notation on the Social Security card should read Valid for Employment Only with INS Authorization which means that you may need to obtain work permission in order to commence employment. To find out more about employment authorization, please contact a staff member at the ISSO or visit the ISSO website at

Foreign Language Assistance

To find out more about the Social Security Administration in your native language, visit the Social Security Multilanguage Gateway at: l. For Free Language Interpreter Services, call (800) 772-1213 between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm.

Additional Information

If you will be employed at Boston University in any capacity, you must report to the ISSO no later than your third day of employment to complete an Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 for payroll purposes. Please contact the staff of the ISSO for more information.

For more information regarding Social Security number visit one of these pages of the Social Seurity Administration web site:


International Students And Social Security Numbers:

Foreign Workers And Social Security Numbers:

Social Security Numbers For Noncitizens:

Application for a Social Security Card:

Social Security Administration home page:


Boston University
February 28, 2005

Boston University International Students & Scholars Office