COVID-19: Essential Information

Social Security Number (SSN)

NOW AVAILABLE: Updated application process for your Social Security Number during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Please note, this information primarily pertains to students/staff/and faculty at Middlebury College.  If you are associated with MIIS, please go to their website here: https://www.middlebury.edu/institute/offices-services/international-student-scholar/living/ssn

A Social Security number (SSN) is a unique identification number assigned by the United States federal government to monitor and tax wages earned by employees in the U.S. It does not grant employment authorization. The Social Security Administration (SSA) processes applications for Social Security Numbers (SSN) from our international students and scholars who are eligible to apply.

The SSN is required for all individuals who are employed in the United States.

The SSN is valid for life, so you only need to apply once. Even if you change employers or leave the U.S., this number remains your number.  If you lose your SSN Card and need to apply for a replacement card, you must prove that you are employed in the United States at the time of your application.

Eligibility for the Social Security Number (SSN)

  • F-1 STUDENTS are eligible to obtain a SSN if they are in valid F-1 status and have been offered an on-campus job, or they have been authorized for off-campus employment (Curricular or Optional Practical Training).
  • F-2 DEPENDENTS are not eligible to obtain a SSN because they cannot be employed.
  • J-1 STUDENTS are eligible to obtain a SSN if they are in valid J-1 status.
  • J-1 VISITING SCHOLARS are eligible to obtain a SSN if they are in valid J-1 status.
  • J-2 DEPENDENTS are eligible to obtain a SSN if they have received J-2 work authorization from USCIS.
  • H-1B TEMPORARY WORKERS are eligible to obtain a SSN if they are in valid H-1B status.

Social Security Number (SSN) Application Process During COVID-19 Pandemic

Before applying for a SSN, new students/scholars must complete check-in with ISSS and have their SEVIS records activated. Also, anyone who entered the U.S. through a land border must be present in the U.S. for at least 10 business days before applying.

You cannot apply for an SSN more than 30 days before your employment start date, unless otherwise noted.

1. Follow procedure for obtaining documents and making an appointment with the Social Security Administration

a)  If you are a student, submit your Employment Letter from the Student Employment Office to isss@middlebury.edu and request a supplemental letter from ISSS.  ISSS will email you back within 3 business days with your letters and important follow up information for filling out the Social Security Number Application.  We often cannot accommodate same-day requests, so please do this step prior to making your appointment with the Social Security Administration (see “b” below).

b) Call the Social Security Administration (SSA) Office to make an appointment (Burlington 1-877-840-5776 or Rutland 1-866-690-1944 although you may be re-directed to Burlington); for anyone not in Vermont, visit the office locator https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp. You will be asked to provide the following information:

    • your name (as it appears on your passport)
    • your address
    • phone number (be sure this number works and is one you have access to; the SSA office will call you back on this number)
    • visa type (for those with an I-20, you will state F-1)
    • employer name (if an on-campus job), this is Middlebury College

2.  Obtain proof of SSN eligibility* (see list below)

* Proof of SSN Eligibility

  • F-1 and J-1 Students with an On-Campus Employment

This is done by obtaining your Employment Letter from the Student Employment Office.  You will also need the supplemental letter provided by ISSS (see step 1 above).  Please allow 3 business days for ISSS to provide you with this documentation.

  • F-1 Students with Curricular or Optional Practical Training (CPT or OPT)

Present proof of your employment authorization (CPT letter or EAD) and your current Form I-20.

  • J-1 Students with Academic Training

Present the Academic Training authorization letter issued by ISSS with your current Form DS-2019.

    • You cannot apply for the SSN until the Academic Training start date indicated on your Form DS-2019.
  • J-1 Visiting Scholars

Present your contract letter as proof of your employment authorization and your current Form DS-2019.

  • J-2 Dependents with Work Authorization

Present your USCIS employment authorization document (EAD), your current Form DS-2019, and your J-1's current Form DS-2019.

  • H-1B Temporary Workers

Present your contract letter as proof of your employment authorization and your Form I-797 Approval Notice.

3. Bring to the Social Security Office:

a) Completed/printed SSN application (Form SS-5):www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/ss5.htm (for item #3 on the form, select legal alien allowed to work)

b) Proof of SSN eligibility (see #2, above)

c) Valid passport with visa sticker (or stamp for Canadian citizens)

d) Form I-20 (F-1), Form DS-2019 (J-1), or Form I-797 Approval Notice (H-1B)

e) I-94 Arrival/Departure Record: To obtain your record, https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home 

Social Security Administration (SSA) Offices – Updated due to the COVID-19 pandemic

It is important that you are prepared to follow the safety protocols set by the SSA Office; you are expected to review the protocols before your appointment (https://www.ssa.gov/coronavirus/).

Public transportation to/from the SSA Offices is currently available; contact ISSS for more information.

Receiving Your SSN

You will receive notification of your SSN in the mail.  The process usually takes 7-10 business days.  You are not required to have an SSN before you start working.  However, your employer will need this information as soon as it is received.

Student workers should notify the Student Employment Office once they receive their Social Security Card so they can enter this information into your record.

For more information, please visit http://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/.

You may call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or visit the Social Security Administration website with any questions.

updated May 20, 2021

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS)

Service Building - Second Floor
14 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753
Phone: 802 443-5858
isss@middlebury.edu