Social Security Number

Important: During COVID-19, all Social Security Administration offices are closed to walk-ins. You must call the SSA office to make an appointment. Be very careful to follow all of the directions given to you by the SSA officer, because they will turn you away if you do not produce proper documentation. Below are some links that may be helpful as you prepare. You will need to take this responsibility very seriously, because it must be completed by the student individually. 

Please read the directions in the PDF below, which includes the normal application steps and an example hire letter. During Covid, you can submit your on-campus hire letter to the Office of International Programs by scan, and we will mail you your F-1 certification letter to your home address. Remember to call the SSA office to make an appointment a few days ahead.


What is a Social Security Number?

The Social Security Number (SSN) is intended only for use in relation to employment in the U.S. It is a taxpayer identification number. The Social Security number does not represent permission to work, nor is it proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent residence. The Social Security Administration does not accept applications from most non-resident alien visa holders unless they have actually been offered a job and have a letter of offer from their employer. Students who do not have a job will not be eligible to receive a social security number. In the past a social security number has been used in a wide variety of ways:

  • Credit card applications.
  • Opening bank accounts.
  • Purchasing cell phone or cable services and contracts.
  • Leasing an apartment or other housing.
  • Applying for a driver's license or state ID card.
  • Credit reports.
  • As a secondary form of ID for a wide variety of uses.

Non-resident aliens can no longer receive a SSN for these purposes. Some landlords and other services may require a letter of non-eligibility from the Social Security Department in order to provide access to their services i.e., North Dakota’s Driver's License and Traffic Safety Department.

Students majoring in Teacher Education cannot get a North Dakota Education License if they don’t have a SSN. We recommend that students in Education apply for a job on campus before they graduate.

United States employees pay 7.65% "F.I.C.A." tax, which includes the Social Security and Medicare taxes. The employer automatically withholds it from the employee’s paycheck. If you are paid, you will have this tax withheld unless you are tax exempt due to your immigration status. F-1 students should not have the Social Security or Medicare taxes withheld if they have been in the United States for less than five calendar years.

Update your records with MSU: As soon as you receive your Social Security Number, take the card to the Human Resources Office to change your temporary number to the permanent number. Also, inform your bank of your new Social Security Number.