Social Security Number

A social security number in the United States is used to track employment and credit-history. The United States does not have a national ID number, therefore in some instances, the SSN has become a de-facto national ID number.

Am I eligible for an SSN?

Most international students and scholars are not eligible unless they will be employed in the United States. Below represents the restrictions based on visa type for eligibility for an SSN.

  • F-1 or J-1 Student

    If you are an F-1 or J-1 student, you are eligible to apply for a social security number (SSN) if you meet one of the following criteria:

    • You are employed on-campus
    • You are employed with an off-campus internship that has been pre-approved with Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
    • You have an employment authorization document  (EAD)
    • You have been approved for a period of Academic Training (J-1 Students only)

    Instructions on how to obtain an SSN will be provided to you by the WFU Center for Global Programs & Studies if and when you meet one of the above criteria.

    For new students that are immediately eligible by virtue of on-campus assistantships, you may not proceed to the Social Security Administration without completing the SEVIS registration first (i.e. complete check-in with the Center for Global Programs & Studies). The SSA will not process an application for an individual whose SEVIS record has not been activated.

  • J-1 Scholar (Research Scholar, Professor, Short-Term Scholar, Specialist)

    If you are a J-1 Scholar, you are eligible to apply for a social security number (SSN) if you meet one of the following criteria:

    • You are employed by Wake Forest University as a regular part of your J-1 program (any new opportunities that may arise after your J-1 program has begun will need to be preapproved by the Responsible Officer or Alternate Responsible Officer at Wake Forest University)

    Instructions on how to obtain an SSN will be provided to you by the WFU Center for Global Programs & Studies if and when you meet one of the above criteria.

    For new scholars that are immediately eligible by virtue of employment, you may not proceed to the Social Security Administration without completing the SEVIS registration first (i.e. complete check-in with the Center for Global Programs & Studies). The SSA will not process an application for an individual whose SEVIS record has not been activated.

  • H-1B or Other Employment-Based Nonimmigrant Visa

    If you are an employee on a valid employment-based nonimmigrant visa, you are eligible to apply for a social security number (SSN) immediately by virtue of your employment:

    • Any new opportunities that may arise after your employment has begun will need to be preapproved by the H-1/employment based visa specialist in the Center for Global Programs & Studies

    Instructions on how to obtain an SSN will be provided to you if and when you meet one of the above criteria.

I am not currently eligible for an SSN and I keep getting asked for one by various services, what do I do?

There is no consequence to not having a social security number. Many companies that provide a monthly service (apartment management companies, cell phone companies, internet and cable companies, etc.) will request an SSN so they can check your credit history, which tracks how worthy you are in terms of paying your obligations.

If you are being asked by a service to provide a social security number, but you are not eligible for one, explain this to them, and if the person still is unwilling to provide the service for lack of an SSN, ask for a manager or supervisor. Many companies will allow you to pay a security deposit in lieu of providing an SSN.

Even if you have an SSN, you may not have a credit history immediately in the United States, and therefore you may still be asked to pay an additional security deposit to receive a service.

Please be advised, a SSN is no longer necessary in order to obtain a driver’s license in the state of North Carolina.

Should you be eligible for an SSN, you should protect your SSN and not provide it to a company that is not considered to be a legitimate corporate entity.