How to Apply for a Social Security Number (SSN)

Learn what F-1 and J-1 students should take to the Social Security office, how to complete the application form, and how to get to the Social Security office.

Social Security Offices Closed to Visitors

As of Tuesday, March 17, 2020, the Social Security Administration suspended face-to-face service to the public in field offices and hearings offices nationwide until further notice.

For more information please visit

What You Need to Take to the Social Security Office

1. Completed Social Security Card Application Form

2. Immigration Documents (Original Documents + One Set of Photocopies)

  1. Valid passport
  2. Valid I-94 card (if you were issued one when you entered the U.S.) OR Admission stamp in passport + Print-out of electronic I-94 card

    3. All of your original I-20's (F-1 Students) OR

         DS-2019s (J-1 Students and Student Interns).

  • The signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 must be an original signature. It cannot be a rubber stamped signature.
Do not enlarge the photocopies

They should be the exact same size as the original immigration documents.

3. Employment Letter

On-Campus Employment

A letter from your on-campus employer on the employer's letterhead verifying that you have secured employment. If it is not on original office letterhead, it must have an original signature in blue ink.

  • Your academic department cannot issue the employment letter.
  • There are several employers at UB (State of New York, Research Foundation, UB Foundation, Campus Dining & Shops). If you are not sure who your employer is, please ask your department who will pay you.
  • If you are employed by the State of New York or Research Foundation, your letter will automatically be sent to you when your new hire paperwork is received by Human Resources. If you have not received the employer letter, please check with your department to see if your paperwork was submitted. If your paperwork was submitted and you still have not received the employer letter, please contact the appropriate person below.
State of New York (SUNY or State)

Contact: Amanda Brown or Carlos Gallardo - 645-4429 or 645-4430

Research Foundation (RF)

Contact: Amanda Brown or Carlos Gallardo - 645-4429 or 645-4430

University at Buffalo Foundation (UBF)

Contact: - 645-3013

Off-Campus Employment

Curricular Practical Training authorization on page 2 of your I-20 (The CPT employment start date must be within 30 days of the date on your Social Security application.)


Valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card) for Optional Practical Training or Economic Hardship Employment Authorization

4. Letter Confirming Your Immigration Status (F-1 Students) OR Eligibility to Work in the U.S. (J-1 Students)

F-1 Students

Letter from a Designated School Official (DSO) confirming your full-time enrollment at UB. Instructions on how to apply for a DSO letter are below.

Are You on CPT or OPT?

If so, you do not need a DSO letter. You may use your CPT I-20 or OPT EAD card to apply for your SSN.

J-1 Student or Student Intern

Letter from ISS (or your program sponsor if UB did not issue your DS-2019) verifying your employment or eligibility to work in the U.S. Instructions on how to apply for the employment eligibility letter are below.

J-2 Dependents who have work authorization

Documents in #1 and #2 above AND Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card).

How do I request a Designated School Official (DSO) letter (F-1 Students)

Follow the directions below to submit a request to ISSS:

1. Login to UB Global. Click on the “LOGIN” button on the left side of the screen, and enter your UBIT Name and Password.

2. Click on “F-1 Student Services” and then “Social Security DSO Letter Request.” You must complete the entire e-form and upload a copy of your On-Campus Employment Letter. 

  • Only documents saved as a PDF or JPEG are acceptable.

How do I request a Letter Verifying Eligibility to Work in the U.S. (J-1 Students)

Visit International Student Services' office or send ISS an email to request the letter.

Tips for Completing the Social Security Card Application Form

  • Citizenship – Check “Legal Alien Allowed to Work”
  • Mother’s Maiden Name – Please put the name your mother had before marriage (if it was different). 
  • Mother’s Social Security Number – If your mother ever lived in the U.S. and had a Social Security Number, put it here. If not, leave this blank.
  • Father’s Social Security Number – If your father ever lived in the U.S. and had a Social Security Number, put it here. If not, leave this blank.
  • Mailing Address = Your Residence in Buffalo

If you do not have a residence in Buffalo yet, it is best to wait to apply for a card when you have one. 

The U.S. Post Office will not forward your Social Security Card or deliver it to you at another person’s address. Do not use c/o addresses! 

Be sure your name is on your mailbox.

Social Security Office Information

There are two local Social Security Offices that UB international students use. One is located in downtown Buffalo and the other is located in West Seneca, which is a town west of Buffalo.

No Backpacks Allowed

Backpacks are not permitted in Social Security Offices.

Downtown Buffalo

186 Exchange Street, Suite 100

Buffalo , New York 14204

West Seneca

1900 Ridge Road Suite 120

West Seneca, New York 14224