Social Security Numbers

You are required by law to have a Social Security Number (SSN) in order to be paid for work in the US.  If you are not working in a paid position, you do not need an SSN.  Unfortunately SSN’s are often used as identification numbers for other kinds of applications, such as credit cards or cell phone accounts.  While having an SSN is convenient, you can NOT apply for an SSN unless you have a job offer. If you have received a job offer, follow these steps to apply for an SSN.


Step 1: Are you eligible to apply for an SSN?


  1. Have you been in the US for at least 10 days?
  2. Is your SEVIS record registered by the ISSS staff?  (must be at least the first day of classes for us to register your record, and you must be enrolled full time)
  3. Do you have a job offer?

If you answered yes to these questions, you are ready to go to the Social Security Administration (SSA) Office to apply for your Social Security Number (SSN).  In order to apply for a social security number (SSN), you will need to visit an office of the SSA in person – you cannot apply by mail or online.


Step 2: Applying for your SSN at the SSA

What to take with you:

  • Valid Passport and visa stamp
  • Current I-20  (must have most recent I-20 as well as I-20 that was most recently stamped when you entered the US)
  • I-94 card or printed record (If you did a Change of Status in the US, take your Approval Notice from USCIS, with the I-94 card in the bottom corner)
  • A Social Security letter from the ISSS office, verifying that you are eligible to be employed
  • A copy of your assistantship letter or other job offer, OR a letter from your employer (see attached form letter for on-campus employers).
  • Complete an SSN application at the SSA, or prepare a copy from their website, here.


Where to go:

There are multiple SSA locations around UMBC.  You can go to any SSA office you choose.  Please see directions to nearby offices on the back of this form.

Please plan to wait – a trip to the SSA can often take some time, possibly hours.  Be prepared to wait and take something to do while waiting.  Avoid going at the end of their business hours.


After you apply:

You should present a copy of the receipt from SSA to your employer.   It will take 2-3 weeks for you to receive your Social Security card in the mail.  When you receive the card, it is important to check the spelling of your name, sign the card and take it to the department where you were hired to complete any necessary paperwork.

Your SSN does not expire or change once it has been issued to you.


Need a letter of Ineligibility (usually for the MVA)?  Take the following to an SSA office:

Valid Passport, visa, current I-20, I-94, letter from IES office certifying good F-1 status.


Directions to Social Security Administration (SSA) offices near UMBC
*Note – All SSA locations are open 9am – 3:00pm, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday;
Wednesdays only the office is only open from 9am – 12pm (noon)


Benson Avenue

3431 Benson Avenue

Baltimore MD 21227


*The closest location to UMBC, this location can be reached using public transportation.  Use the MTA 35 bus from campus to the Wilkens Ave and Pine Heights Ave stop, then walk about a ½ mile.  Use an online mapping service for best directions.  The office is located in the Benson Heights Business Center. The Social Security office is in the front, facing Benson Avenue, in Suite C — there is a sign on the window.


Columbia/Oakland Mills

8865 Stanford Blvd.

LakesideBuilding, Suite 110

Columbia, MD21045

*This location is very difficult to reach via public transportation.


Baltimore City

1010 Park Avenue, Suite 200

Baltimore, MD 21201


*This location can be reached using public transportation – Take the 35 MVA bus to downtown and transfer to the Charm City Circulator, Purple Route – use a mapping website to plan your specific route.

The Social Security office is in an office complex called the Symphony Center directly behind the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.



Helpful Links:

Social Security Location Finder

Mapping Service websites, to plan your trip: Google Maps, Mapquest

SSN Information specific to international students

MTA bus information


For questions or concerns, please contact ISSS.