A Social Security number (SSN) is a number issued by the U.S. Federal government for tax purposes. All students and scholars who are currently employed are required to apply for an SSN. Students in F-1 or J-1 status who are not currently employed are not eligible to apply for an SSN. F-2 dependents are not eligible for an SSN; J-2 dependents are only eligible if they’ve applied for and received work authorization from USCIS. The SSN is NOT required to obtain an NC State driver’s license or to open a bank account with some financial institutions.
Although the Social Security Administration office in North Raleigh remains closed to the public because of the COVID-19 pandemic, first-time applicants can call the Raleigh office to be scheduled for an appointment to apply for their Social Security number. When you initially call their office, you will be asked to leave your contact information and you will receive a call back within one week to schedule your appointment. Please note that the SSA does NOT leave a voicemail if they call you and are unable to reach you.
New international students/scholars must first attend a scheduled check-in with OIS before applying for an SSN so OIS can activate/validate the SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 record. After check-in OIS recommends the student or scholar to wait at least five days before applying for the SSN. OIS also recommends that new students/scholars wait 10 days after arrival to the U.S. before applying since the Social Security Administration must confirm the port-of-entry details posted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the port of entry (there is a delay of up to 10 days for that interface to occur).
- A completed application for a SSN
- Passport and visa (visa can be expired)
- I-94 Record
- You must provide the electronic printout (in English) at your SSA appointment.
- The SSA office does NOT have a printer for public use and they may require you to reschedule if you don’t have your I-94 printed prior to your appointment.
- I-20 (for F-1 students) or DS-2019 (for J-1 students/scholars)
- Update! SSA will now accept the electronic version of the I-20 as the original for the purpose of SSN applications. You must have the I-20 printed in advance, just as you would when entering the United States
- DS-2019 documents must still be original, hard copy documents signed in ink. If you need to request an original copy of your DS-2019, please submit a “Request new I-20 or DS-2019” form found here. Under section 1 of the form, indicate that you need a printed document for a SSN application. You do not need to submit scans of your other immigration documentation for this request.
- Additional documents nay be required depending on your visa type. See “Additional Requirements by Visa Type” below.
Once you apply for your Social Security Number (SSN), a physical card will be mailed to you at the address you provide on your Social Security application. You MUST provide your US address in the correct format in order to successfully receive your card. Incorrect addresses may cause delays or even require you to reapply in person. For example, a common issue is failure to include an apartment number if your address includes one. Please pay careful attention to the following address information:
Line 1: Street number followed by street name
Line 2: Apartment number (if you have one)
Line 3: City, State and Zipcode
So the proper address format looks like:
1887 Wolfpack Way
Raleigh, NC 27695
The Social Security Administration requires you apply in person with your original documents (not copies). An appointment is currently required (see above). The address of the closest Social Security Administration office to NC State is 4701 Old Wake Forest Road, Raleigh NC 27609. Their telephone number is 877.803.6311 or they can be reached by TTY at 919.790.2782.
Their office hours and directions can be found here.
Once the application is received and approved, the Social Security card is mailed to the applicant’s address 3-4 weeks after the application is accepted.
To see the International Students And Social Security Numbers Electronic Fact Sheet click here.
For applicants with access to a personal vehicle, the Raleigh SSA office has free parking in the lot adjacent to their building.
The Raleigh SSA office is also accessible by GoRaleigh bus. It takes approximately 1 hour to travel by bus (each way) but actual travel time varies depending upon when you plan to go. The GoTriangle Trip Planner is a useful resource that allows you to plan your trip according to the day and time of your SSN appointment.
Many people also choose to use Uber, Lyft, or taxi services to reach the Social Security office. If possible, schedule appointments alongside friends to split the cost of these services.
Additional Requirements By Visa Type
- An offer letter from the hiring department confirming employment. SSA will accept print copies of offer letters as long as they have the required information below. Original offer letters with hand signed ink signatures will also be accepted. The offer letter must contain certain information required by The Social Security Administration. If the offer letter does not follow the prescribed requirements, it is the responsibility of the student to request a new letter from the hiring department/office. Offer letters must:
- Be on departmental/campus unit letterhead
- Include the signature of the hiring official
- Include the job title
- Include the employment start date
- Include the work location
- Include the salary
- Update! Include the Employer Identification Number (EIN) assigned to NC State
- The Social Security Administration also requires that the Designated School Official (DSO) in OIS write a support letter. The OIS letter is in addition to the letter from the hiring official. Therefore, F-1 students needing to apply for an SSN must submit an SSN Letter Request form. OIS needs to confirm student and immigration status prior to creating the SSN Letter. Once you have completed the request form, the letter will be emailed to you within 2-3 business days. You must print and bring a copy with you to your SSN appointment. SSA does not have a printer for public use and they may require you to schedule another appointment if you do not have your DSO letter printed for your appointment.
Must show proof of CPT authorization on page 2 of your I-20, after authorization by OIS. No additional documentation from OIS required, however, you cannot apply for a social security number until 30 days before your employment start date.
Must show Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS after authorization. No additional documentation from OIS required, however, you cannot apply for a social security number until 30 days before your employment start date. The Social Security Administration will not process your application until your EAD start date has passed.
If employed on-campus, must complete the OIS form, J-1 On-Campus Employment Authorization Request and pick up the on-campus employment authorization letter from OIS when emailed to pick up after submission of form.
If employed under Academic Training an updated DS-2019 that indicates Academic Training authorization and an Academic Training authorization letter from OIS must be provided.
J-1 Student Interns also need a social security letter from OIS to apply for an SSN. New Student Interns will be provided with an SSn letter at the time of their required OIS check-in. If you a current Student Intern but do not yet have a letter from OIS in support of your SSN application, you can request a letter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The letter takes several business days to process and you will be emailed when it is ready to be picked up.
J-1 Research Scholars / Short-term Scholars / Professors do not need additional documentation from OIS in support of the SSN application. In addition to the standard required documents needed to apply for an SSN, Exchange Visitors in any of these three categories should also bring an original ink-signed offer/invitation letter on the host department’s letterhead.