Social Security Number

In the U.S., a social security number (SSN) is a 9-digit number issued to citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents. It is issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA), an agency of the U.S. Federal Government.

Its primary purpose is to report an individual’s wages to the U.S. government and for taxation and identification purposes.


Who can apply:

  • F-1 students who are working on-campus at Williams College
  • F-1 students authorized for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and/or Optional Practical Training (OPT)
  • J-1 students authorized Academic Training

How and where to apply:

  1. To obtain a Social Security Number, you must have a job offer.
  2. Receive the On-Camus Employment Verification Letter that will be generated automatically by Human Resources and signed by the Payroll Department and ISS.
  3. Begin your SSN application online.
  4. Print and prepare your application materials (originals and one copy of each):
  • Signed Letter of Promised Employment (you can pick it up at the ISS office)
  • Unexpired passport
  • F-1/J-1 visa (if applicable; this is likely but not always in your unexpired passport)
  • Most recent I-94 record
  • I-20/DS-2019 with valid travel signature
  • A printed copy of the online control number from your online application

5. Visit the SSA to complete your SSN application within 45 days of beginning your application online.  This in-person process will take place at the Social Security Administration office in North Adams (96 Marshall St, North Adams, MA 01247).

6. Wait for your SSN card to arrive. Your Social Security Number card should be mailed to you a few weeks after your appointment.

7. Once you have received your SSN card in the mail, bring it to the student employment office in Human Resources, so they can obtain a copy. Do not carry the card with you and keep it in a safe place.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • No, as an international student, your primary objective is to study, not to work. Therefore if you do not intend to work, you do not need a social security number. If required, you can visit the local SSA and request a denial letter (SSA-L676), which states an individual is not eligible for a SSN. This letter does not affect an individual's ability to request a SSN in the future.

  • A Social Security Number is not required to obtain a driver's license, cell phone, credit card, insurance, admission to an academic institution, or for other "non-work" reasons.

  • Make sure to never share your SSN with anyone other than your employer, US government agencies, or credible financial institutions. Sharing your SSN with other parties can lead to identity theft.

  • Dependents in F-1 status are not eligible for an SSN.


Helpful Resources