A Social Security Number (SSN) is a unique, 9-digit number used for taxpayer identification, income reporting, and record-keeping purposes.

Once issued, the number is valid for a lifetime. After you have received an SSN, you will never need to apply for a new one. If you lose your Social Security card, however, you will need to reapply for a replacement card — so keep the card safe! Additionally, never share your SSN with anyone other than your employer, US government agencies, or credible financial institutions. Sharing your SSN with other parties can lead to identity theft.

Who can apply:

  • F-1 and J-1 students who are working on-campus at Amherst College
  • F-1 students authorized for Optional Practical Training
  • J-1 students authorized for Academic Training (email us for more information)

When to apply:

  • You may apply once you have been offered an on-campus job or are applying for Optional Practical Training.
  • You may begin working on-campus before receiving your SSN, but you will need the SSN in order to be paid.
  • You may not apply more than 30 days prior to your employment start date.
  • If applying for your SSN for Optional Practical Training, you may submit your SSN application along with your Optional Practical Training application (Form I-765).
  • Once you have submitted your SSN application, you will receive your Social Security card in the mail within a few weeks. (If applying for the SSN via the I-765, you will receive your Social Security card within a few weeks of OPT approval.)
  • The SSN packet that you receive from the Center for International Student Engagement (CISE) is valid for only 30 days. If you are submitting an SSN application more than 30 days beyond the issuance date of the SSN packet, your SSN application will be rejected. Please email us if you need an updated packet.

How to apply:

For on-campus employment:

Submit the On-Campus Employment Letter Request online form. The CISE will process your submission and email you when your SSN packet is ready for pick-up.

Bring the following documents to apply for an SSN:

•  CISE SSN packet (contents are only valid for SSN applications within 30 days of packet issuance) including:
          •  
An On-Campus Employment Confirmation Letter (prepared by campus employer/signed by CISE)
          •  
A completed Social Security Number Application (SS-5 Form)
•  
Unexpired passport (valid at least six months into the future) with visa
•  
Most recent I-94 record 
•  I-20
/DS-2019 with valid travel signature
•  
Amherst College ID card or another form of photo ID
•  
Photocopies of: your passport biographical page, your visa, your most recent entry stamp, and I-20/DS-2019.

For off-campus employment:

F-1 students are encouraged to apply for the SSN as a part of the OPT application, via the I-765 form.

J-1 students on Academic Training should bring the following to the Social Security Administration center to submit an application for an SSN:

•  Unexpired passport (valid at least six months into the future)
•  
Most recent I-94 record 
•  
DS-2019 with Academic Training authorization
•  
Amherst College ID Card or another form of photo ID
•  
Academic Training letter from the CISE
•  
A completed Social Security Number Application (SS-5 Form)
•  
Photocopies of: your passport biographical page, your visa, your most recent entry stamp, and DS-2019.

Where to apply:

To apply for an SSN for an on-campus job, you must visit the Social Security Administration center in Holyoke, MA (200 High Street), and bring the above documents. Please reach out to the CISE if you are in need of support around transportation to the SSA center in Holyoke.

Additionally, the Social Security Administration travels to UMass at the beginning of each semester to collect SSN applications locally for students of all Five Colleges.  For Spring 2020, the Social Security Administration representatives will be available at UMass on Wednesday, February 5th, 9am-2pm, by appointment only (walk-ins are NO LONGER ACCEPTED -- sign up is required).  If you are hoping to apply for your SSN at the start of the semester, don't miss this chance to apply in Amherst!