Social Security Number

A Social Security card and number are essential to working in the United States. This number is required for anyone to receive payment from an employer. To apply for a Social Security number, you must be able to prove that you are legally authorized for employment and have a paid job.

If you are not eligible for a Social Security Number, you may be eligible to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

How to Apply

Step 1

Obtain proof of both employment and work authorization. Proof types vary according to the type of employment listed below:

On-Campus Job

  • On-campus employment letter from AU Human Resources
  • Signature from ISSS on Human Resources employment letter

Curricular Practical Training Job

  • Authorization for Curricular Practical Training from ISSS (a new I-20 with CPT authorization)

Optional Practical Training Job

  • EAD card issued by USCIS
  • Letter of employment from your employer

International Organization Job

  • EAD card issued by USCIS
  • Letter of employment from the international organization

Step 2

Collect the following documents and take them to the Social Security Administration office to apply for your card. In addition to looking at your documents, a clerk may interview you and ask a few routine questions. Social Security office hours may vary. Be prepared for a long wait.

Your Social Security card should be mailed to you within 2-3 weeks. In the meantime your employer's Human Resources office will probably want to see your receipt showing that you have applied for a card.

After showing your Social Security Card to your employer put it away in a safe place - the Social Security Administration advises that you should not carry your card with you.

Step 1

Obtain proof of both employment and work authorization. Proof types vary according to the type of employment listed below:

On-Campus Job

  • On-campus employment letter from AU Human Resources
  • Signature from ISSS on Human Resources employment letter

Academic Training Job

  • Employment letter from your Academic Training employer
  • New DS-2019 authorizing you for Academic Training from ISSS, or your J-1 program Responsible Officer if your sponsor is not American University

Step 2

Collect the following documents and take them to the Social Security Administration office to apply for your card. In addition to looking at your documents, a clerk may interview you and ask a few routine questions. Social Security office hours may vary. Be prepared for a long wait.

Your Social Security card should be mailed to you within 2-3 weeks. In the meantime your employer's Human Resources office will probably want to see your receipt showing that you have applied for a card.

After showing your Social Security Card to your employer put it away in a safe place - the Social Security Administration advises that you should not carry your card with you.

Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft 

Social Security numbers are often used in cases of identity theft. Be cautious in sharing the number with anyone, and keep the card in a safe place with other important documents, rather than carrying it with you and risking losing it or having it stolen. 

Lost Social Security Card 

If you lose your Social Security card you will need to follow the same procedure to apply for a replacement card, which will have the same number. Note that you will again need to show current proof of employment and proof of work eligibility.