Obtaining A Social Security Card

Applying for a Social Security Card

Non-immigrant International Students, Faculty & Research Scholars, and their dependents who are legally eligible to work as per their immigration status, are required to apply for a U.S Social Security card once you have secured employment. To obtain a Social Security card, you must visit a Social Security Administration office. The telephone number for all Social Security offices is 1-800-772-1213. All Social Security offices are open 9:00am – 4:00pm, Monday through Friday.

NOTE: You are not eligible to apply for a SSN unless you have a job.

Location of the Social Security Office Closest To You

If you are on the Medford Campus, the closest Social Security office is located at 240 Elm Street, in Davis Square, Somerville. You may also visit the Malden Social Security office. They are located at Malden City Hall, 200 Pleasant Street, Room 215 (across from the Malden “T” station – on the orange line).

When you visit the Social Security office, you will need to present the following:

  • A Social Security Application form, which you can download from http://www.ssa.gov/online/ss-5.html;
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  • a valid passport;
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  • I-94 card (small white card usually stapled to your passport);
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  • a valid visa document (Form I-20, Form I-797, Employment Authorization Document, etc.);
  • *
  • Students will also need a work authorization letter from the International Student Advisor as well as proof of employment.

*Newly-arrived students will not be able to obtain a work authorization letter from the International Student Advisor until they have been in the U.S. for a two-week period. All questions regarding your work eligibility should be addressed to our office.

It is advisable that you wait a couple of weeks after your arrival in the U.S. before applying for a Social Security card. The reason is that the Social Security office will need to verify your immigration status on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) database system. It takes at least a couple of weeks after your arrival before this information can be accessed electronically by the Social Security office. If when you visit the Social Security office, you’re not yet listed on the USCIS database system, the Social Security office will request verification from the local Immigration office in Boston. This is done by mail and could take 6-8 weeks. The Social Security office can only approve you for a Social Security Number after they have verified your immigration status. Once the Social Security office has cleared you for a number, it will take an additional 2-3 weeks for you to receive the Social Security card. Please notify the International Student Advisor of your Number. You will not be able to be paid by the Tufts Payroll office until you have obtained a Social Security Number.

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.

Other General Information

* If you are a Fletcher International Student, you will be issued a Tufts Identification Number that begins with 991. This is NOT a Social Security Number; * If you are a student, when you receive your Social Security Number, from the Social Security Administration, be sure to report it to the International Student Advisor, as well as to the Payroll Office (if you’re working on campus). * 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 card at the Social Security Administration office and request that they give you a denial letter for you to present at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. * For information about the safety of your Social Security Number, visit the following page: http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10064.html o Social Security Administration (SSA) Protects Social Security Numbers o Protecting Social Security Numbers.