Social Security Number

What is a Social Security Number?

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a unique and personal 9--digit number assigned by the government to US citizens and non-citizens who will be temporarily working in the United States of America. It is used for tax purposes and in some situations as an identification number. Once issued, the number is valid for one's lifetime.

How to apply for a Social Security Number?

In order to apply for a Social Security Number, F-1 and J-1 students must

  • First secure a job on campus and have a letter of employment
  • Wait at least 10 working days after the initial entry in the U.S. (the date on the I-94 card)
  • Visit the Office of International Programs (OIP) to fill out the appropriate paperwork and to receive the permission to apply at the Social Security Administration.
  • Apply in person at the Social Security Administration once the paperwork is complete

The Social Security Administration requires the following items

  • Passport
  • I-94 card (white card in passport)
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Letter of Employment
  • Documents prepared at OIP

The Social Security Administration is located at

3205 North 27th Avenue (behind Target Store; by bus, take the blue line, it is the last stop)
Bozeman, MT 59718
Phone: (406) 586-4501 or 1-800-772-1213

When can work start?

Work can begin before the SSN is assigned, but it is important to apply for the SSN promptly.

Identity Theft and Social Security Number

The SSN is a very personal number that should be kept private and given only to reliable and safe offices: employer, bank, insurance, doctor. Cell phone companies require a SSN. However, please be aware and cautious not to give it on the phone to someone you do not know or online to any company. Keep your card in a safe place, do not carry it or any other document that shows your SSN.

Canadian Citizens and Social Security Number

Canadian citizens cannot use the Canadian "Social Insurance Number" as a U.S. Social Security Number. Applying for a SSN can only happen while in the U.S. following the above procedure.