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Frequently Asked Questions: Social Security Numbers

What if I already have an SSN?

If you have an SSN, your number will not change and you may report that information as you feel comfortable. However, you may need to request a replacement card, either because your original card has been lost or stolen or has an outdated notation printed above your name. All nonimmigrants with valid US work permission should have a card stamped "VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH DHS AUTHORIZATION". If you have a card that reads "Not valid for employment" or any other notation, you may need to request that a replacement card be issued. The application process and eligibility requirements are the same whether you are applying for the initial SSN or a replacement card.


Can I work while my SSN application is pending?

YES: Individuals who do not have a Social Security Number yet may pursue authorized employment while the application is being processed. For information on how to report wages for an employee who has not yet received a SSN, your employer may want to review SSA’s fact sheet: Employer Responsibilities When Hiring Foreign Workers


Can the University of Rochester pay me without having my SSN?

YES: University Payroll has established a policy that will allow you to receive your UR paychecks prior to the SSN being issued. The first paycheck will be issued automatically. After this first pay period, Payroll must have a copy of your SSN Receipt in order for you to continue receiving payments. F-1 and J-1 students will also need to provide a copy of their eligibility letter from ISO. While the application is pending, you can receive payments for up to 2 months. If you still have not received your SSN after this time, please contact ISO for further guidance. Our staff can assist you to resolve any problems with your application and request a continuation of University payments.


Should I report my SSN when it arrives?

YES: Once your SSN has been issued, several updates may be necessary. Since the SSN is necessary for employment and tax purposes, you will need to supply the number to your employer(s). You may be asked to show the original card for verification. If you have bank accounts or plan to open a credit card, the SSN will likely be required. Within the University, please notify your UR hiring department and update your GLACIER and HRMS records as soon as your SSN is available. F-1 and J-1 students working on-campus will also need to update their student record through their Registrar's office.


Do I have to pay US Social Security taxes?

MAYBE: You may be exempt from Social Security taxes (FICA) during the first few years in the United States.  Your individual exemption will depend whether you are categorized as a Non-Resident Alien for tax purposes. Please use the GLACIER tax compliance software to determine your tax category, which is listed on your Tax Summary. If you believe FICA taxes have been withheld from your paycheck in error, notify your employer. Once you are categorized as a Resident Alien for tax purposes, you will be subject to paying Social Security taxes on your US earnings.


What is an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)?

International students, dependents, and other visitors who are ineligible for a Social Security Number may be able to apply for an ITIN instead. This number is issued to individuals with a required reporting need and can be used in place of an SSN on some US tax forms. The ITIN cannot be used for identification purposes outside the tax system. Applications must be submitted to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The Rochester IRS branch is located at 255 East Avenue, near the Eastman School of Music. Additional information is available through the IRS website.


How can I show that I am ineligible for an SSN?

The Social Security Administration will issue a letter of ineligibility for those individuals who are unable to apply for the SSN. This can be helpful to show government agencies that normally require an SSN. For instance, this letter can be shown to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles instead of a valid SSN card when applying for a NY Driver's License. To request the letter, you will need to take your immigration documents, showing your ineligible status, to the Social Security Administration office. For many purposes, the ineligibility letter is considered valid for only 30 days from the date it is printed.


How can I access my Social Security Account?

When your new Social Security card arrives in the mail, go to to register for your personal online my Social Security account.

A my Social Security account is an excellent tool that helps you plan for the future. It lets you verify your earnings on your personal Social Security Statement, change your address and phone number, and more — all online.

To create a my Social Security account, you must be at least 18 years old and have a:

  • valid email address;
  • Social Security number; and
  • US mailing address.

Setting up a my Social Security account is quick, secure, and easy. Millions of people already have accounts. In fact, someone opens one about every 6 seconds! For more information about your Social Security Number card, visit International Students and Social Security Numbers and Your Social Security Number and Card.