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Social Security Number


A Social Security Number (SSN) is a unique, 9-digit number used for taxpayer identification, income reporting, and record-keeping purposes. Once issued, the number is valid for a lifetime. You should keep it safe and provide only as needed to U.S. government agencies or credible financial institutions.

Who can apply

  • Anyone earning wages in the U.S. must have an SSN for tax purposes. If you are not earning wages, you will not be able to apply (this includes H-4 and 0-3 spouses and family members). 
  • J-2 spouses and family members who have been granted employment authorization by the INS may apply.

Note: If you have been issued a number previously, do not apply for another as this will cause confusion in your tax records.

When to apply

Check in with Scholar Services first. The records of J-1 scholars must be validated in SEVIS before an application can be filed; so you must wait at least 2 days after we validate your arrival before you can apply.

How to apply

Go to the Social Security Administration card center closest to where you live with the following documents to apply for a SSN:

  1. Passport (valid for at least six months into the future) with visa stamp (Note: Canadian citizens or scholars who have changed their status in the U.S. will not have a visa stamp)
  2. I-94 information
  3. DS-2019 (for J-1 scholars) or I-797 (H-1B and O-1 scholars)
  4. A copy of your job offer letter from your NYU Department


  • Be prepared for long lines and security checkpoints.
  • Once your application has been approved, your social security card will be sent to the address you provided. Processing times may range from 2-4 weeks.


Social Security Card Centers

Note: If you live in New Jersey or elsewhere, please use the Social Security Office Locator to find the center where you should apply.

Lost your Social Security number?

If you have been assigned a Social Security Number but lost your card, you will need to re-apply for a new Social Security card. You must be eligible for a Social Security card under the current Social Security Administration regulations, and you need to follow the procedure listed on this page.

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