Guidebook / Social Security Number

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A Social Security Number (SSN) is a tax identification number used by employers to report wages to the U.S. government for tax purposes. F-1 students who are or will be working in the U.S. are required to apply for an SSN; those not employed are ineligible to apply for an SSN.  While some companies or offices in the U.S. may ask for an SSN for other purposes (signing a lease, getting a driver’s license, opening a bank account, etc.), the SSN is not required outside of the employment context.  Please contact OIP if you encounter any difficulties due to not having an SSN. 

SSN Application Steps

  1. Secure an on-campus job 
  2. Ask your supervisor to complete and sign (in ink) the ‘employment information’ section of the SSN Employment Verification letter
  3. Submit your signed Employment Verification letter to OIP for DSO signature
  4. Submit your SSN application online.  After completing the online application, print the confirmation page that includes the reference control number associated with your application. 
  5. Visit the Social Security Office in person to complete your SSN application. Appointments are not required, but you may request one by calling (877) 803-6311 
    1. New students: OIP will arrange a visit to the Social Security office as part of International Orientation activities. Please contact OIP for more details. 
    2. The closest Social Security office is located at 3315 Poole Road (27610). Their hours are (generally) Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  6. Within 3 to 4 weeks of your visit, you will receive your Social Security card in the mail. Take the card to Meredith’s Human Resources office to revise/complete your new hire paperwork.


Note: new employees are required to meet with HR and initiate new hire paperwork within 3 days of starting a job. F-1 students are eligible to work while the SSN is in process, but you will need to follow up with HR to finish paperwork once your SSN has been issued. 

See the International Students And Social Security Numbers Electronic Fact Sheet for more information.

Social Security Office Visit Checklist

  • Original I-20
  • Original passport
  • Original F-1 visa (if applicable)
  • Most recent I-94 printout
  • Original Employment Verification letter, signed by supervisor and DSO
  • Online SSN application confirmation page printout