Social Security Information

A social security number is a nine-digit number issued by the Social Security Administration. The purpose is to track an individual’s wages. Having a Social Security number doesn’t automatically grant work authorization. A Social Security number is valid for life. Accordingly, you should not need a Social Security number to:

•         Open a bank account

•         Rent an apartment

•         Open a utility account (example: electricity, gas, etc.)

•         Set up a cell phone account

•         Register your child(ren) for school

•         Conduct business with other financial institutions

If a business representative or service provider asks for a Social Security number, simply inform them that you are an international scholar and do not have a Social Security card.

However, as a nonimmigrant in the U.S., you will need a Social Security number if you are employed by a United States entity. In order to obtain one, you will have to document that you are eligible to work in the U.S. Please refer to the section below to find out the type of documentation which you need.


In order to be eligible for a Social Security number, you must first have reported your initial arrival to UBIS, attend the J-1 Scholar Orientation, must wait at least 48 hours from the date that your SEVIS record is validated and must be physically present in  the U.S. for at least 10 days.

Applying for a social security number

To apply for a Social Security number, you must appear in person at the Social Security Office. You can use the link below to find the closest Social Security office to you.

You will need to fill out an application form and provide original documents to verify your age, your identity and your lawful non-citizen status.

  • Valid passport
  • I-94 information (you can print out the electronic I-94 information at
  • DS-2019
  • Support letter from UBIS

Requesting a support letter from UBIS: you can send an e-mail to  In your e-mail be sure to include your full name and the UB department that you are in. Once we receive the e-mail, it will take about one week to review your file and issue the letter. Once the letter is ready you will receive an e-mail notification to pick it up.


The information contained on this web page is provided as a service to the international faculty, researchers, staff, employees and administrators of University at Buffalo, and does not constitute legal advice on any immigration, tax, or other matter. We try to provide useful information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this web site or any associated site. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel. Neither the University at Buffalo nor the Office of UB Immigration Services is responsible for any errors or omissions contained on this web page, or for the results obtained from the use of this information.


Email:        Tel. Number: (716) 645-2355