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. 


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 Employment Workshops on the RGlobal portal under the “Workshops” tab.

  • You will need to complete the Staying in Legal Status workshop and these workshops before you can obtain needed documents for your SSN application.

Additional Information

How to apply for the Social Security Number +

To apply for a Social Security Number, go to to start the process online.  After you have completed the online application, you then may request an appointment to visit the local Social Security office.  If you do not find an appointment that suits your schedule, you may visit the Social Security office and your SSN application will be processed on a walk-in basis. You must present your original documents to the Social Security office within 45 days of completing the online application. 

IMPORTANT: If you are located in New Brunswick, please use the following information to apply for your SSN

Step 1) Foreign National prepares their SSN application packet.

A complete packet must include:

- Hard copy of a completed SSN application (form SS-5) found here OR, you can apply online ahead of time. This is determined by the SSA office you visit - our local New Brunswick office will accept the online version. Review the online application and visit the SSA office within 45 days with the required documents.

See below and here for more information.

- Original valid passport with F/J/H-1B visa stamp 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/ARO), 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. This means bring the original document that was signed - not a scanned copy

- If off-campus, job offer letter (e.g. OPT/CPT/AT offer letter) from employer with an original, wet signature from your hiring manager and I-20/DS-2019 that shows CPT/OPT/AT recommendation on it. J-1 students on Academic Training will also need their AT letter signed by their ARO.

- For J-1 scholars and H-1B employees, an appointment letter from your academic department

Step 2) Visit the New Brunswick SSA (Social Security Administration) office. Appointments are optional, and SSN applications are processed on a walk-in basis.

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

Step 3) An SSA staff member will review the SSN application packet and, if everything is in order, will provide a receipt notice for the application. The applicant should receive their SSN card in the mail within 7-14 days.

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 an 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 an 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).

A note to international students and scholars who are enrolled in University employee benefits:
Dependents in F-2 and J-2 status who are ineligible for an SSN must apply for ITIN. F-2 and J-2 dependents without an SSN or ITIN run the risk of being unenrolled in University benefits and could lose their health insurance coverage.

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 the 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.

From the IRS website:

"Once you receive a SSN, you must use that number for tax purposes and discontinue using your ITIN.  It is improper to use both the ITIN and the SSN assigned to the same person to file tax returns.  It is your responsibility to notify the IRS so we can combine all of your tax records under one identification number.  If you do not notify the IRS when you are assigned a SSN, you may not receive credit for all wages paid and taxes withheld which could reduce the amount of any refund due."

To notify the IRS, follow the instructions here

For more detailed information on ITINs, refer to:


Additional Information and Resources +