Social Security Number (SSN)

International students and scholars are only required to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) if they will be employed in the US. A SSN is used solely for taxation purposes and will remain the same number for your entire life. The application is free.


Applying for a Social Security Number

 

When to Apply

International Scholars (visa types: J-1, H-1B, TN, O-1, E-3)

  • J-1 Visas: wait until you have recieved an email from SEVIS indicating your visa record has become "Active" (this may go to either your UCSF email address or personal email address depending on which address you give HR during your onboarding)
  • All other visa types: wait at least 10 days after you check-in with Human Resources

International Students (visa types: F-1 or J-1 in the student category)

  • J-1 Visas: wait until you have recieved an email from SEVIS indicating your visa record has become "Active" (this may go to either your UCSF email address or personal email address depending on which address you give HR during your onboarding)
  • F-1 Visas: Wait at least 10 days after your arrival

 

What to Bring

All applicants must complete the Form SS-5: Application For A Social Security Card and bring the following:

International Scholars (visa types: J-1, H-1B, TN, O-1, E-3)

  • J-1 Visas: passport, DS-2019, I-94, UCSF appointment/invitation letter printed on UCSF letterhead
  • All other visa types: passport, I-797 Approval Notice (if applicable), I-94, UCSF appointment/invitation letter printed on UCSF letterhead

International Students (visa types: F-1 or J-1 in the student category)

  • J-1 Visas: passport, DS-2019, I-94, on-campus work auth. letter from ISSO
  • F-1 Visas: passport, I-20, I-94, job/admission letter from department

 

Where to Go

Apply for your SSN in person. Use the Social Security Office locator to find the office you should visit along with directions. There are three SSA offices in San Francisco:

  1. 1098 Valencia St, San Francisco 94110 (between 21st and 22nd Street)
  2. 90 7th St, Annex 1st Floor, San Francisco 94103 (between Market and Mission Street)
  3. 560 Kearny St, San Francisco 94108 (between Sacrament and California Street)

Request a “Verification Receipt” before leaving the Social Security office. Additional SSA offices can be accessed at www.socialsecurity.gov.

Caution: Never mail original legal documents such as passports or DS-2019s to the Social Security Office to apply for your SSN. Your original legal documents can get lost and you will need to reapply for them at your own expense.

 

After you Apply

Your social security card will be mailed to the address that you listed on the SSN application 7-10 business days after you apply. After you receive your Social Security Number, contact your HR generalist for next steps. ISSO does not need a copy of your social security number or card.

If you have questions regarding the status of your SSN, contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 or TTY: 1-800-325-0778.


Important Notes

  • A SSN is not legally required to open a bank account, obtain a drivers license, open a cellular phone account, etc.
  • Because your SSN is a unique identifying number, it is often used to target individuals in identity theft schemes. ISSO strongly discourages sharing your SSN or card electronically, by email, by phone or with others that you do not know for reasons other than employment.

Scam Alert

  • You will never be contacted by the social security office about your social security number. If you are ever contacted by someone claiming to be from SSA, please ask for their contact information, end the call and contact your ISSO adviser. Do not share your SSN or alternative identifying information with callers.