If you are a foreign student studying in the United States, you are probably unfamiliar with a lot of things. International students pay more for tuition than American students (sometimes nearly double!) and are frequently required to work. If you are looking for work, here are some pointers on how to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN).
- Try to find work on campus.
Working on campus is beneficial for a variety of reasons. For starters, it allows you to get a better feel for the campus, which will make you feel more at ease in a foreign setting. Second, the campus frequently has a wealth of support resources that can assist you. But, most importantly, if you work on campus (in a library, as a research assistant, or in any other capacity you can find), your school’s international students office will write you a letter to take with you to get your social security number.
- What is the purpose of obtaining a Social Security Number?
If you are paid in any way in the United States, you must have a Social Security Number (SSN). This means that even if you receive a scholarship, you will need a social security number. (Even that money is taxable, and believe me, it will be taxed.) Don’t put off applying for your SSN because some employers won’t be able to pay you until you have your number.
- How much time does it take?
Once you’ve gone to the government office, it takes about four weeks to get a social security number. This means you must get started on your paperwork as soon as possible.
- Where do I begin?
The first step is to apply for on-campus jobs (or off-campus). You can go to the international students’ office once you have a printed job offer in your hand. They will most likely photocopy your job offer, passport, and visa. Even if you don’t get a job on campus, you’ll need a written version of your job offer to take with you.
- What do I need to bring?
Determine the location of the nearest SSN office to you. When you go there, you will need the following items: a) Your Letter of Offer (from your job or scholarship), b) A letter from the international students office (if you are applying for an on-campus job; this letter will state that you are currently enrolled and attending classes; you do not need it for an off-campus job), c) your passport, d) your visa (F-1, J-1, etc), e) all other immigration papers that you have (this means bring in any forms that you can think of, such as your I-94 form; you can even consider brining your SEVIS fee formit never hurts to bring too much).
When I went to get my SSN, they also asked to see my birth certificate, which was not on the list of required items. They demanded to see my friend’s driver’s license. It’s a good idea to bring these just in case. You don’t want to be turned away or have to return with additional information.
There are no forms to fill out before you arrive for the SSN. A member of the office staff will assist you in completing all of the necessary forms.
I’m confident you’ll have no trouble finding work or obtaining your Social Security number. It’s a lot of paperwork, but it’s all worth it in the end.