When you enter the United States and have been given permission to work by the Department of Home Land Security (DHS), a Social Security Number (SSN) is required. This is a unique number that is assigned to each individual by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Even if you do not have the permission to work, you will be asked to provide this number to pay taxes, to apply for driver’s license, to file for motor vehicle registration, to rent an apartment, and to perform other administrative requirements.
An application form can be downloaded from (http://www.ssa.gov/online/ss-5.html)
After filling out the application, you can either mail it or take it to your local office along with the other necessary documents. It is preferable to go to the office and file in person since a mail-in application requires that you send in your original documents. (They will be returned by mail.) Your local office can be located from (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/FOLO/fo001.jsp).
- Immigration status
Your current US immigration document, I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, issued to you when you arrived in the United States. If you are an F-1 or M-1 student, you must also show your I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. If you are a J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor, you must show your DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status.
- Work eligibility; I-94, Arrival/Departure Record
If you are an F-1 student authorized to work in curricular practical training, you must provide with a Form I-20 with the employment page completed and signed by a designated school official.
- Age; Birth certificate or a passport
- Form I-551 (includes machine-readable immigrant visa with your unexpired foreign passport);
- Work permit card from the Department of Homeland Security (I-766 or I-688B).
SSN is unique to each individual and often used to identify a person. Many identity thefts involve this information; thus be sure to treat it as confidential. It is recommended that you do not carry the card with you once you receive it and keep it in a safe place with other important documents. Make sure the person you are providing your number to is the proper person of the institute you are submitting it to.
For further information, visit Social Security office website; http://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/