Social Security

Social Security Numbers

F-1 and J-1 international students, scholars and Foreign Nationals sponsored by Rutgers have the ability to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) once they have secured approved on-campus or off-campus employment for the first time. Individuals are only granted one SSN for life, and you do not need to apply for a new SSN for each additional employer. The SSN is used mainly for tax purposes. SSNs are granted by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Our office works closely with the SSA office located in New Brunswick. 

Eligibility

The following individuals are eligible to apply for a SSN:

  • F-1 and J-1 students with a job offer letter and/or work permission, both on-campus and off-campus
  • J-1 visiting scholars and certain visiting research students
  • J-2 dependents with an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card)
  • H-1B Employees
  • Other individuals with an immigration status that allows employment authorization; please note our office can only advise on Rutgers supported visa types
  • Been in the US for at least 10 days and have an active SEVIS record

Preparing for Employment

Learn about On-Campus or Off-Campus Employment (i.e. CPT) in our online Canvas Employment Workshops.

  • You will need to complete the Staying in Legal Status workshop and these workshops before you can obtain needed documents for your SSN application.
  • If you are not able to access the online workshop by clicking the link above, please submit an Online Workshop Access e-form via the RGlobal portal.
     

Additional Information

How to Apply at the New Brunswick SSA Office +

The New Brunswick SSA center, as well as all other SSA offices, are closed until further notice. ISSS has coordinated with the SSA office in New Brunswick and the following procedure is now offered for international students who are eligible to apply for a SSN.

IMPORTANT: If you are not located in New Brunswick, you will need to reach out to your local SSA office to ask how to apply.

Step 1)  Foreign National prepares their SSN application packet.

A complete packet must include:

- Hard copy of completed SSN application

- Original valid passport with valid  visa inside

- Printed I-94 record 

- For F-1 Students, original I-20 document (both current and previous)
- For J-1 Exchange Visitors, most recent DS-2019
- For H-1B Employees, the I-797 approval notice

- (F-1/ J-1 students only) Social Security Letter, signed by the student’s Designated School Official (DSO), obtained from the RGlobal Portal  (you will need the SS letter even if you are applying based on OPT or CPT)

- Proof of employment:
      - If on-campus, job offer letter (e.g. TA/GA offer letter, fellowship letter) or On-campus Verification Letter (completed by your on-campus employer) with an original, wet signature from your hiring manager
      - If off-campus, job offer letter (e.g. OPT/CPT offer letter) from employer with an original, wet signature from your hiring manager and I-20 that shows CPT/OPT recommendation on it 
      - For J-1 scholars and H-1B employees, an appointment letter from your academic department

Step 2) Call the SSA office at 877-803-6313 or 888-221-9983 to schedule an appointment.

Step 3) At the scheduled appointment time, the student must come to the SSA office alone and be prepared to wear a mask before entering the building. The address in New Brunswick is:

Social Security Administration
550 Jersey Ave, Suite 200
New Brunswick NJ 08901

Step 4) An SSA staff will review the SSN application packet and, if everything is in order, will provide a receipt notice for the application. The student should receive their SSN card in the mail within 7-14 days. 

Please note:
- It is not possible to apply online.
- Applications for replacement cards are not being accepted at this time.

SSN Denial Letters +

SSN denial letters are sometimes needed. However, please note the NJ MVC no longer accepts them.

If you need a denial letter, please complete the SSN application and mail it to the SSA. There is no need to submit any additional documentation like the I-20 or I-94 if applying for the denial letter. Please mail the application to:

Social Security Administration
ATTN: Mrs. Diouf
550 Jersey Ave, Suite 200
New Brunswick NJ 08901

You will receive the denial letter in the mail.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) +

PLEASE NOTE: Students should NOT have a SSN and an ITIN at the same time. This can cause confusion in the IRS system. You will need to rescind your ITIN later on if you have the need to instead obtain a SSN. 

 

From the IRS website: 

An ITIN, or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, is a tax processing number only available for certain nonresident and resident aliens, their spouses, and dependents who cannot get a Social Security Number (SSN). It is a 9-digit number, beginning with the number "9", formatted like an SSN (NNN-NN-NNNN).

You can use the IRS’s Interactive Tax Assistant tool to help determine if you should file an application to receive an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

To obtain an ITIN, you must complete IRS Form W-7, IRS Application for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. The Form W-7 requires documentation substantiating foreign/alien status and true identity for each individual. You may either mail the documentation, along with the Form W-7, to the address shown in the Form W-7 Instructions, present it at IRS walk-in offices, or process your application through an Acceptance Agent authorized by the IRS. It usually takes about 7 weeks to get an ITIN.

Acceptance Agents are entities (colleges, financial institutions, accounting firms, etc.) who are authorized by the IRS to assist applicants in obtaining ITINs. They review the applicant's documentation and forward the completed Form W-7 to IRS for processing.

NOTE: You cannot claim the earned income credit using an ITIN.

Foreign persons who are individuals should apply for a social security number (SSN, if permitted) on Form SS-5 with the Social Security Administration, or should apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) on Form W-7. Effective immediately, each ITIN applicant must now:

  • Apply using the revised Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number; and

  • Attach a federal income tax return to the Form W-7.

Applicants who meet one of the exceptions to the requirement to file a tax return (see the Instructions for Form W-7) must provide documentation to support the exception.

For more detailed information on ITINs, refer to:

Additional Information and Resources +

Please note: Some of the following resources are external links, outside Rutgers.

FAQs for SSN
International Students and Social Security Numbers
Study in the States
Rutgers Global tax webpage