Social Security for J-1 Scholars

Social Security Number

A Social Security Number is a means of identification in the U.S.  If you are supposed to receive funding from a U.S. employer such as the University of Miami, then you must obtain a Social Security Number.  If you do not receive any funding from a U.S. source, then you do not have to obtain a Social Security Number; however since the Social Security Number is frequently used in the course of daily business in the U.S., you may still wish to obtain one even if you do not need to have it for employment purposes.

Application Procedures for a SSN

No earlier than 10 days after your arrival in the U.S. in J-1 status and no sooner than one day after you attend scholar orientation, you must present the following documents in person at a local SSA office to apply for the SSN:

  • A completed Form SS-5, Application for Social Security Number, available at SSA, which must include your legal name as the name to be printed on your Social Security Card.  Your legal name is the name in your passport.  The name you enter on Form SS-5 must EXACTLY match the name reflected in your passport;
  • At least two documents that establish your age and identity including a passport and one additional document establishing identity;
  • SEVIS Form DS-2019;
  • Form I-94; and
  • Offer of employment or invitation letter from your University of Miami department.

It takes approximately two weeks for SSA to issue the SSN but the process may take up to one month if your records do not immediately appear in CIS’s pre-processing immigration document/status verification check called “SAVE” (Systematic Alert Verification for Entitlements).  For those who need immediate verification that they have applied for a Social Security card, the Social Security office can issue a receipt.  You should request a receipt at the time that you apply for the SSN.

If you have applied for the Social Security Number and have not received it a month after submitting the application to a Social Security Administration Office, then you should go back to the Social Security Administration where you applied, inquire about the status of your application, and report what you were told about the status of your application to ISSS in case any follow-up is required.

In order to find the Social Security Administration office closest to your location, please visit the Social Security Administration’s website:  On the left side of the screen, you will find a link entitled Find a Social Security Office.  Clicking on this link and typing in the zip code for your location will yield a screen with information regarding the address, opening hours and directions to the Social Security Administration office closest to your location.

Foreign National Information Form

Upon receipt of the Social Security Number, scholars with University of Miami funding are required to complete a Foreign National Information Form, enter the Social Security Number on line #2, and send the completed and signed form to the University of Miami’s Payroll Office.  If you are supposed to receive funding from the University of Miami, then you will find the Foreign National Information Form and a preaddressed interoffice envelope in your orientation folder.

Scholars without UM funding do not complete the Foreign National Information Form.

Avoiding Identity Fraud

Once you receive a Social Security Number, it will be yours for the rest of your life.  Please make sure that keep your Social Security Number and Card safe to avoid identity fraud.  You should never e-mail your Social Security Number, and you should only share your Social Security Number over the telephone or in person if you are certain that the information is being requested for a legitimate purpose.