How to Apply for a Social Security Number (SSN)
Information for International Students
When You Do & Don't Need a Social Security Card
Social Security numbers are not general purpose ID’s. Accordingly, you should not need a Social Security number for the tasks listed below. If a business representative or service provider asks you for a Social Security number, simply inform him/her that you are from another country and do not have one.
- open a bank account
- rent an apartment
- open a utility account (e.g. electricity, gas)
- set up a cell phone account
- register your children for school
- conduct business with financial institutions
Note: The only exceptions should be business providers who require a credit check before doing business with you or opening an online account for you.
If you are not working in the U.S., you also do not need a Social Security number to submit tax forms (e.g. Form 8843) to the Internal Revenue Service, which is the U.S. government’s tax agency. For this purpose, you should apply instead for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). For information on how to do this at UB, please contact Amanda Brown at 645-4429 or Carlos Gallardo at 645-4430.
In order to work in the U.S., you will need a Social Security Number. To obtain one, you will have to document that you are eligible to work in the U.S. Please refer to the section below which corresponds to your visa category to find out the type of documentation you need.
Once you have your Social Security number, please be careful:
- Identity Theft is a big problem in the U.S.
- It can happen if someone with ill intentions finds out your Social Security Number.
- DO NOT CARRY your Social Security Card or SSN with you. Instead, memorize the number and keep the card in a safe place at home!
- For more information on protecting yourself, see the Social Security Administration's brochure.
What You Need to Take to the Social Security Office
1. Completed Social Security Card Application Form
2. Immigration Documents (original documents + one set of photocopies). Note: Do not enlarge the photocopies.
- Valid passport
- Valid I-94 card (if you were issued one when you entered the U.S.) OR Admission stamp in passport + Print-out of electronic I-94 card (available at www.cbp.gov/I94)
- All of your original I-20's (F-1 Students) OR DS-2019s (J-1 Students and Student Interns). Note: The signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 must be an original signature. It cannot be a rubber stamped signature.
3. Employment Letter:
NOTE: Your academic department cannot issue the employment letter.
NOTE: There are several employers at UB (State of New York,
Research Foundation, UB Foundation, Campus Dining & Shops). If you
are not sure who your employer is, please ask your department who will pay you.
NOTE: If you are employed by the State of New York or Research
Foundation, your letter will automatically be sent to you when your new
hire paperwork is received by Human Resources. If you have not
received the employer letter, please check with your department to see
if your paperwork was submitted. If your paperwork was submitted and you still have not received the employer letter, please contact the
appropriate person below.
State of New York (SUNY or State)
Contact: Amanda Brown or Carlos Gallardo - 645-4429 or 645-4430
Research Foundation (RF)
Contact: Amanda Brown or Carlos Gallardo - 645-4429 or 645-4430
University at Buffalo Foundation (UBF)
Contact: Robin Hoeltke - 645-8735
Curricular Practical Training authorization on page 2 of your I-20 (Note: The CPT employment start date must be within 30 days of the date on your Social Security application.)
Valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card) for Optional Practical Training or Economic Hardship Employment Authorization
4. Letter Confirming Your Immigration Status (F-1 Students) OR Eligibility to Work in the U.S. (J-1 Students).
F-1 Students: Letter from a Designated School Official (DSO) confirming
your full-time enrollment at UB. Note: Instructions on how to apply for a DSO letter are below.
J-1 Student or Student Intern: Letter from ISSS (or your program sponsor if UB did not issue your DS-2019) verifying your employment or eligibility to work in the U.S. Note: Instructions on how to apply for the employment eligibility letter are below.
J-2 Dependents who have work authorization should bring the above documents (except the verification of employment authorization) AND their Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card).
How do I apply for a Designated School Official (DSO) letter (F-1 Students)
Follow the directions below to submit a request to ISSS:
1. Login to the myISSS Student Portal. Click on the blue "LOGIN" button on the left side of the screen, and enter your UBIT Name and Password. Note: Do NOT click on "Administrative Services for University Departments".
2. Click on "F-1 Student Services" and then "Social Security DSO Letter/I-20 Request". You must complete the entire E-form and upload a copy of your On-Campus Employment Letter. Note: Only documents saved as a PDF or JPEG are acceptable.
How do I apply for a Letter Verifying Eligibility to Work in the U.S. (J-1 Students)
Go to International Student and Scholar Services, Talbert Hall 210, North Campus to request the letter.
Tips for Completing the Social Security Card Application Form
||Citizenship – check “Legal Alien Allowed to Work”
Mother's Maiden Name – Please put the name your mother had before marriage (if it was different).
Mother's Social Security Number – If your mother ever lived in the U.S. and had a Social Security Number, put it here. If not, leave this blank.
Father's Name – Please put your father's name.
Father's Social Security Number – If your father ever lived in the U.S. and had a Social Security Number, put it here. If not, leave this blank.
Mailing Address = Your Residence in Buffalo
- The U.S. Post Office may not forward Social Security Cards or deliver them to you at another person's address. Do not use c/o addresses!
- If you do not have a residence in Buffalo yet, it is best to wait to apply for a card when you have one.
Social Security Office Information
There are two local Social Security Offices that UB international students use. One is located in downtown Buffalo and the other is located in West Seneca, which is a town west of Buffalo.
The Social Security Office in downtown Buffalo is open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 9:00-11:30 for the processing of UB international students' Social Security Card applications. The office address is below. Note: Backpacks are not permitted in the Social Security Office.
186 Exchange Street, Suite 100
Buffalo , New York 14204
For driving, bus and metro rail directions to the Social Security Office in downtown Buffalo, please see our map.
The Social Security Office in West Seneca is open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 9:00-12:00 for the processing of UB international students' Social Security Card applications. The office address is below. Note: Backpacks are not permitted in the Social Security Office.
1900 Ridge Road
West Seneca, New York 14224
For driving, and public transportation directions to the Social Security Office in West Seneca, please see our map.