A Social Security number is a nine-digit number assigned to all U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and some international visitors, and is used to keep a record of income for tax purposes. Please refer to the Social Security Administration's (SSA) International Students and Social Security Numbers PDF for more information.
If you are receiving wages from an employer in the United States (such as receiving a stipend from Emory or working in an on-campus job), you will need an SSN.
You may encounter various requests for an SSN for identification purposes while conducting business in the United States, but your passport should serve as sufficient identification in most cases.
You should not attempt to apply for an SSN until you have been in the United States for at least 10 business days. Learn more.
F-1 students may only receive an SSN if they have an offer of employment. In order to apply for an SSN, F-1 students must provide a passport, I-20, I-94 arrival/departure record, and letters from both their employer and ISSS. The ISSS letter can be requested via the F-1 Social Security Letter e-form in ISSS Link. Students may apply for an SSN up to 30 days prior to the on-campus employment start date.
J-1 students need only the DS-2019 Form and I-94 arrival/departure record to apply. If you will receive a fellowship or assistantship you may be able to apply for the SSN on campus during a designated appointment period in August. Otherwise, you will need to visit the SSA office in order to apply for an SSN.
The SSN application process is free and no appointment is necessary. When you enter the SSA office, you may have to wait in line for several hours. It is recommended that you go early in the morning.
NOTE: If you are employed by Emory, Human Resources will assign you a “dummy” ID number in the Emory system for use until the SSN is received. Students and scholars should not use the “dummy” ID number assigned by Emory as an ID number anywhere else outside of Emory! Any applicable tax treaty benefits will not apply until the student or scholar obtains the SSN and provides a copy of the SSN card to Mary Chenault in the Office of the Controller.
On average, it takes two weeks to receive the SSN. Learn more.
To apply for a Georgia driver’s license, you must provide your SSN or official evidence that you are not eligible for an SSN. The SSA will issue Form SSAL-676 (essentially a "denial" or "rejection" letter) if you are not eligible for an SSN but wish to apply for a Georgia driver’s license. For more information, please see Driving in the United States.
F-1 and J-1 students can apply for the SSN on Emory's campus during a designated appointment period in August.
There are also several SSA office locations in the Atlanta area, including the South Dekalb office in Decatur (2801 Candler Road), downtown Atlanta (401 W. Peachtree Street), and Norcross (4365 Shackleford Road). Students and scholars may search for local SSA offices by inputting a zip code on the Social Security Administration website, which also provides detailed directions and office hours. The South Dekalb SSA office is accessible via Emory's Cliff Shuttle system (shuttle schedule).
Social Security number applications are taken in person. All F-1 and J-1 student applicants should bring a completed Form SS-5 and original immigration documents (passport, Form I-20 or DS-2019 Form issued by Emory University, and valid I-94) to the SSA.
F-1 students who are applying for an SSN based on on-campus employment must bring letters from both their employer and ISSS. The ISSS letter can be requested via the F-1 Social Security Letter e-form in ISSS Link.
F-1 students who are applying for an SSN based on Curricular Practical Training should request a letter of confirmation from ISSS in conjunction with the CPT application. Students may apply for an SSN up to 30 days prior to the CPT start date listed on page three of the I-20.
F-1 students who are applying for an SSN based on an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) received as approval for Optional Practical Training, Employment with an International Organization or Employment for Severe Economic Hardship must also bring the EAD. Students may apply for an SSN once the EAD start date has been reached.
J-1 students who are applying for an SSN based on on-campus employment must bring an authorization letter completed by an ARO in ISSS. Visit J-1 On-Campus Employment to learn more about the authorization process.
Students in J-1 status sponsored by organizations other than Emory University must contact their J-1 sponsor to request the employment authorization letter.
J-1 students who are applying for an SSN based on Academic Training must also bring the authorization letter issued by ISSS and the offer letter from the employer.
If employed by Emory, a letter of appointment may be helpful but is not always required.
Employment is implicit in this immigration status. Therefore, no additional documents aside from the I-797 approval notice and other immigration documents are required for application.
No! SSNs issued to non-immigrants (individuals who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents) are valid only in conjunction with a corresponding work authorization appropriate for their visa status. The SSN is not work authorization in itself.
An Emory ID number is not an SSN. You do not need to change your ID number. However, when you obtain your SSN, you should notify Susan Newborn in the division of Data Services in Human Resources AND Mary Chenault in the Controller's Office immediately.
Students and scholars who are not eligible for a Social Security number may apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) when filing taxes. ITINs are for tax filing purposes only. To apply for an ITIN for you or your dependents, fill out Form W-7 and send the required documentation to the Austin Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office. Completed forms W-7(s) and supporting documents are then included with the tax return.