Applying for a Social Security Card

If you are in the United States in non-immigrant visa status, you may apply for a Social Security number only if:

  • You have permission to work in the U.S.
  • A federal, state or local statute or regulation requires you to have a Social Security number to obtain a benefit For example, in some states (but NOT in New York State) a social security number may be necessary to obtain a driver's license, register a vehicle, etc.

You do NOT need a Social Security number to:

  • Register for classes or register your children for school
  • Report group health insurance coverage
  • Open a bank account
  • Conduct business with banks or financial institutions.

For financial needs, you can complete Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form W-7 "Application for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number." This form allows you to be assigned an identification number instead of a social security number.

To apply for a Social Security number, you must appear in person at the Social Security Office and complete an application form. You should bring the following items with you:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid I-94 (small, white card) if in F visa status, your I-20, if in J visa status, your DS-2019 verification of your employment authorization
  • Letter completed by the campus employer and addressed to the Social Security Administration (sample letter from Dr. Gounard for  "currently working" and  "job offer has been made" students (PDF), sample letter (PDF))

If you are working on-campus, you may present:

  • A letter from your department offering you a teaching, research or graduate assistantship.
  • A letter from Office of the International Student Affairs indicating your authorization to work on campus up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and full-time during vacations.

Optional Practical Training

If you are authorized for Optional Practical Training, Academic Training or off-campus work permission based on economic necessity, you should present:

  • If F-1, your Employment Authorization Document (EAD card)
  • Training, you should present your I-20 endorsed for Curricular Practical Training.

The Social Security Office is opened from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. It is located at:

3131 Sheridian Drive
Century Mall (Extension of Northtown Plaza)
Amherst, New York 14226-1960
Tel.: 1-800-772-1213

If you wish to obtain a driver's license or register a motor vehicle in New York State, you will be required to provide a Social Security number or a letter from the Social Security Administration indicating that you are not eligible for a number. The Social Security Administration office in the Century Mall will provide the required letter upon request.

Applying for the driver's licence  (PDF).

Call Metro information for current route and schedule information at 855-7211.

Additional Information Regarding SSN and Work Options

 Employer Responsibilities When Hiring Foreign Workers

International Students and Social Security Numbers (PDF)