Social Security Numbers

If you're receiving any compensation for your services from an employer in the US, including Emory, apply for an SSN. Learn more below.

If you're receiving funding from Emory University without providing services, apply for an ITIN. This includes students receiving non-service stipends as graduate students, students who will be receiving non-service scholarships, etc.  

What is a Social Security Number?

Social security numbers (SSN) are assigned to people who are authorized to work (provide services for various forms of compensation) in the United States. An SSN is a 9-digit number assigned to you by the US Social Security Administration that keeps a record of your income for tax purposes.

Required documents

  • Passport
  • Immigration document (I-20, DS-2019, I-797)
  • I-94
  • Completed SS-5 form

You should also bring:

F-1 students only

  • If you're applying for an SSN based on on-campus employment, you should also bring:

    1. An offer letter from your on-campus employer or service-fellowship provider (download a template). You can apply as early as 30 days before your employment start date. The letter must include the following to be accepted by SSA:

      -Name of Emory hiring department
      -Position Title
      -Work location (full address including a zip code of where you will work)
      -Start date (must be within 30 days from your SSN application date)
      -End date (cannot be beyond your I-20 end date)
      -Wage information
      -Work hours per week
    2. A support letter from ISSS. Request a letter though ISSS Link >>
  • If you're applying based on Curricular Practical Training, bring your original SEVIS I-20 annotated for CPT on page 2. You can apply as early as 30 days before your CPT start date listed on your I-20.

  • If you're applying based on approval for Optional Practical Training, employment with an international organization, or employment for severe economic hardship, bring your employment authorization document (EAD card). You can apply for an SSN on or after the start date on your EAD card.

J-1 students only

  • If you're applying for an SSN based on on-campus employment, bring an on-campus employment authorization letter from ISSS. Info >>

  • If you're applying based on Academic Training, bring an AT authorization letter from ISSS. Info >>

How to apply

You should bring your documents to a Social Security Administration (SSA) office. You don't need an appointment, but you might have to wait in line for several hours. We recommend you go early in the morning.

Find an SSA office >>

If your application is approved, the SSA will mail your social security card to you. This usually takes about 2 weeks.

When you get your social security card, email to let them know you've received your SSN.

Social security appointments

Each fall, representatives from the SSA come to campus to help students apply for social security numbers. Check back for August 2018 dates.

You should sign up only if you:

  1. will receive a stipend from Emory based on services you're providing;
  2. have an on-campus job; or
  3. need a social security rejection letter to apply for a Georgia driver's license or ITIN. 

Please bring your own copies of the required documents. You won't be able to make copies during your appointment.


If I get a social security number, can I take any job?

No. The SSN is not work authorization in itself.

I have an ID number from Emory. Do I still need a social security number? Do I have to change my ID number?

An Emory ID number is not a social security number. You don't need to change your Emory ID number.

How long does it take to get my social security card?

You should get your social security card in about 2 weeks. You can start working before you get your card, but keep in mind that your employer can't pay you until you have an SSN. The SSA issues letters of ineligibility immediately.

What am I supposed to do with my social security card?

First memorize your social security number, then keep it in a safe place with your personal records. Don't carry it in your wallet.

I got an SSN during my last stay in the US. Do I need a new one now?

No, you should only receive 1 SSN. It's good for life.