Anyone who plans to work (on- or off-campus) will need a Social Security number for payment and tax purposes.
It is true that having a Social Security Number facilitates many things in the US. However, even if you
Social Security Administration (SSA) offices recently opened for walk-ins.
If you prefer, you can also make an appointment. If you plan to apply at the Newport News SSA office, the number for appointments is 866-331-9169; typically an appointment will be scheduled through a message on your voicemail, so please ensure your personal voicemail is set up.
You can apply for an SSN at any SSA office. Please visit the Social Security Administration COVID-19 website for the most up-to-date information.
All documents submitted to the Social Security Office must have an original signature (not printed/signed). This includes your I-20 or DS-2019 and any signed employment letters.
Current Social Security Number processing times are stated as 4 - 6 weeks (though in April 2022, some W&M students have reported it's taken 4 weeks) . If you apply at the Newport News Social Security Office, and do not receive your card within 4 weeks, contact [[ehbailey, Emily Bailey]].
Applying for a Social Security Number
- You can only apply for a Social Security Number once you have arrived in the U.S.
- Your immigration record must be registered by the Office of International Students, Scholars & Programs (ISSP) for you to apply for a number, if you are in F-1 or J-1 status. If you are new to W&M, check with ISSP to make sure it is registered; returning students and scholars who were at W&M the previous semester have already been registered. New students and scholars must complete the immigration check-in and have it approved before applying. ISSP automatically registers the records of those who attend the ISSP Social Security trip (typically held at the beginning of the semester).
- Note: If you are on a Musskie, AMIDEAST, or Fulbright DS-2019, your sponsoring organization will be responsible for registering your immigration record.
- There is no fee to apply for the number.
- Social Security Application Forms (pdf) must be submitted in person at the Social Security Office. The closest office is in Newport News. ISSP will usually arrange a trip to the Social Security Office at the beginning of each semester. (Note: Trips are currently limited due to COVID-19)
- All documents must be originals (with original signatures). Scanned, copied, or notarized copies are not accepted.
- Once you receive your Social Security Number, keep it in a safe place. This number will be valid for the rest of your life, and it can be very difficult (and sometimes impossible) to find it out if you lose your card.
Documents needed when Applying
F-1 Students working at W&M or VIMS
Students must already have a job offer, and may apply for a SSN no earlier than 30 days before the start date of your on-campus job.
F-1 Students with CPT
Students may apply for a SSN no earlier than 30 days before the start date on their CPT.
F-1 Students with OPT or an EAD card
Students may apply for a SSN no earlier than the start date of their EAD.
J-1 Scholars and J-1 Student Interns
J-2 Dependents (must have work authorization)
F-2 and H-4 Dependents are not eligible for a Social Security Number because they are not eligible for work authorization.
Social Security Administration
11706 Jefferson Ave, Newport News, VA 23606
It is best to call the office to confirm hours before you go.
There are other Social Security offices located all over the U.S.; it is fine to apply at any of them. You will typically have to wait in line (typically 1 hour or more), so allow waiting time.
The Social Security Office has metal detectors, so you may want to leave bags and backpacks at home.
At the beginning of each semester, we are sometimes able to offer a trip to the Social Security Office. Spaces are limited; this trip will be advertised on the International Student Listserv. Otherwise, you will need to secure your own transportation; please see available transportation options.
Directions by Car
It takes about 30 minutes by car to reach the Social Security office. Take I-64 East. Exit 258A onto J Clyde Morris and turn right onto Jefferson Avenue at the Casey Chevrolet. The office is located at 11706 Jefferson Ave. It is between the Speedway station and the Extended Stay motel.
Directions by Bus
You will have to use the Williamsburg Area Transit as well as the Hampton Roads Transit Bus System. The route is complicated because you are using two bus systems so call ahead and ask for a trip itinerary.
Google Maps also has an option to search for routes using public transportation.
When you are hired as an international student for a W&M or VIMS job, there are special steps you need to follow to get paid. See our international employment resource.