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Social Security Numbers (SSN)

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 cannot get a SSN, you can still function quite well!

Social Security offices are currently not offering walk-in services due to COVID-19. However, the SSA may be able to offer an in-office appointment for a new card request based on available staff and office operating status. 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. Do not make an appointment until you have signed documents.

You can contact the Reves Center to request signed documents; please allow 1-2 weeks if sending by campus or regular mail, or you can choose to pay for express shipping through Eshipglobal (we can give you instructions).

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 Reves Center 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 the Reves Center 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. The Reves Center automatically registers the records of those who attend the Reves Center Social Security trip.
  • There is no fee to apply for the number.
  • It usually takes about 2 - 3 weeks for your card to arrive in the mail. If you applied at the Newport News Social Security Office, and do not receive your card within 3 weeks, contact [[ehbailey, Emily Bailey]].
  • Social Security Application Forms (pdf) must be submitted in person at the Social Security Office. The closest office is in Newport News. The Reves Center usually arrange a bus trip to the Social Security Office at the beginning of each semester.
  • The following documents are required to apply for a Social Security Number. All documents must be originals. No notarized copies are 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
documents for applying for a social security number
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.

  • SSN Application Form (pdf)
  • Passport
  • I-20
  • I-94 Record. Print this at the Customs & Border Protection website.  If you have difficulty accessing this, contact the Reves Center. If you last entered the U.S. in May 2013 or prior, or entered by land, use the paper I-94 card in your passport instead.
  • Employer Letter
    • Ask your employer or hiring administrator to complete and sign the employer letter (doc)
  • DSO Letter
    • To request a DSO letter:
      • Login to iStart using your W&M ID and Password.
      • Click on International Office in the menu on the left-hand side. Then, click on F-1 Social Security Letter Request and complete the form. You will upload your completed and signed employer letter here
      • You will receive an email when your DSO letter is ready to be picked up
F-1 Students with CPT

Students may apply for a SSN no earlier than 30 days before the start date on their CPT.

  • SSN Application Form (pdf)
  • Passport
  • I-20 with CPT authorization on page 2
  • I-94 Record. Print this at the Customs & Border Protection website. If you have difficulty accessing this, contact the Reves Center.  If you last entered the U.S. in May 2013 or prior, or entered by land, use the paper I-94 card in your passport instead.
F-1 Students with OPT or an EAD card

Students may apply for a SSN no earlier than the start date of their EAD.

  • SSN Application Form (pdf)
  • Passport
  • I-20
  • I-94 Record. Print this at the Customs & Border Protection website. If you have difficulty accessing this, contact the Reves Center. If you last entered the U.S. in May 2013 or prior, or entered by land, use the paper I-94 card in your passport instead.
  • EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card
J-1 Students
  • SSN Application Form (pdf)
  • Passport
  • DS-2019
  • I-94 Record. Print this at the Customs & Border Protection website. If you have difficulty accessing this, contact the Reves Center. If you last entered the U.S. in May 2013 or prior, or entered by land, use the paper I-94 card in your passport instead.
  • A letter from the Reves Center that verifies your immigration and enrollment status. To request this:
      • Login to iStart using your W&M ID and Password.
      • Click on International Office in the menu on the left-hand side. Then, click on J-1 Social Security Letter Request and complete the form. We will email you when the letter is ready.
    • Note: If you are on a Musskie, AMIDEAST, or Fulbright DS-2019, you will need a letter from your sponsor, not from the Reves Center.
    • Note: For J-1 applicants: To apply for SSN, you must have 14 days left on your DS-2019 (see program dates in Section 3 of the DS-2019).
J-1 Scholars and J-1 Student Interns
  • SSN Application Form (pdf)
  • Passport
  • DS-2019
  • I-94 Record. Print this at the Customs & Border Protection website. If you have difficulty accessing this, contact the Reves Center. If you last entered the U.S. in May 2013 or prior, or entered by land, use the paper I-94 card in your passport instead.
  • Your invitation letter/contract (this also applies to the Language House International Fellows) with original signature.
  • Note: For J-1 applicants: To apply for SSN, you must have 14 days left on your DS-2019 (see program dates in Section 3 of the DS-2019).
H-1B Employees
  • SSN Application Form (pdf)
  • Passport
  • I-797 Approval Form
  • I-94 Record. Print this at the Customs & Border Protection website. If you have difficulty accessing this, contact the Reves Center. If you last entered the U.S. in May 2013 or prior, or entered by land, use the paper I-94 card in your passport instead. This record may also have come as part of your I-797.
  • Your employment contract
J-2 Dependents (must have work authorization)
  • SSN Application Form (pdf)
  • Passport
  • DS-2019
  • I-94 Record. Print this at the Customs & Border Protection website. If you have difficulty accessing this, contact the Reves Center. If you last entered the U.S. in May 2013 or prior, or entered by land, use the paper I-94 card in your passport instead.
  • EAD: J-2 Work Authorization Card

F-2 and H-4 Dependents are not eligible for a Social Security Number because they are not eligible for work authorization.

Where to Apply

Social Security Administration
11706 Jefferson Ave, Newport News, VA 23606
(800) 772-1213 or (757) 873-3914
Check the hours on their website or calling 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.

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 East Coast Gas station and the Extend Stay motel.

If you do not have a car, but have a foreign or domestic driver's license, renting a zip car is an option, as these cars can be rented by the hour or by the day.  To rent a zip car, you need to have had a driver's license for at least a year, and if you have a foreign license, you also need to obtain a copy of your driving records, translated in English.  Zip car has more information on their website regarding eligibility for driving with a foreign license.

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. 

The trip will take about 2 hours each way.

Employment Paperwork

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.