Foreign Student Studying In The Us?: Getting A Social Security Number

If you are a foreign student studying in the US, chances are that there are a lot of things that are unfamiliar to you. International students pay more than American students for tuition (sometimes almost double!) and so often have to get a job. If you are going to get a job, here are a few tips about getting a Social Security Number (SSN).

1. Try to work on-campus.

Working on campus is good for a number of reasons. Firstly, it helps you get a better feel for the campus, which will make you more comfortable in a foreign place. Secondly, the campus often have a lot of support resources that can help you. But most importantly, if you work on campus (in a library, as a research assistant, or in whatever capacity you can find) the international students office of you school will write you a letter to take with you to get your social security number.

2. Why do I need a Social Security Number?

You need a Social Security Number (SSN) if you are getting paid in any way in the United States. This means that you will need a social security number even if you are receiving a scholarship. (Even that money is taxable, and trust me, they will be taxed). Don’t delay in your SSN application because sometimes employers won’t be able to give you your pay check until you have your number.

3. How long does it take?

It takes about four weeks to get a social security number, once you have gone to the government office. This means that you need to make sure that you begin your paperwork right away.

4. Where do I start?

The first step is to apply for jobs on campus (or off-campus). Once you have a printed job offer in your hand, then you can go to the office of international students. They will probably photocopy your job offer, your passport, and your visa. If you are not getting a job on campus, you will still need a written version of your job offer to take with you.

5. What should I bring?

Find out where the nearest SSN office is to you. When you go there, you will need quite a few things: a) Your Letter of Offer (from your job or scholarship), b) A letter from the office of international students (if you are applying for an on-campus job; this letter will say that you are currently enrolled and attending classes; you don’t need it for an off-campus job), c) your passport, d) your visa (F-1, J-1, etc), e) all other immigration papers that you have (this means bring in any forms that you can think of, such as your I-94 form; you can even consider brining your SEVIS fee form…it never hurts to bring too much).

When I went to get my SSN, they also asked to see my birth certificate, which is not on the list of mandatory items to bring. For a friend of mine, they asked to see her driver’s license. It is better to bring these just in case. You don’t want to be turned away or have to come back with more information.

There aren’t any forms to fill out for the SSN before you get there. A person at the office will help you fill out all of the forms that you need to.

Good luck!

I’m sure that you won’t have any problems finding a job, or getting your SSN. It’s a lot of paperwork, but in the end it’s worth it.

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