Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

Social Security card

SS card example

Sample Social Security card.

What is a Social Security number?

A Social Security number is a unique, nine-digit number issued by the U.S. Social Security Administration. It facilitates the reporting of wages to the government and is required in order to work in the United States. It also serves as a national identification number for taxation and other purposes.

Applying for a Social Security card

International students and scholars must wait two full weeks from their date of entry into the United States before applying for a Social Security card. Applications submitted earlier will be subject to an additional delay of six weeks to three months and will increase the time it takes to receive a Social Security number.

International students (F-1/J-1)

International students must be employed to apply for a Social Security card. If you do not have a job or job offer, you cannot apply for a Social Security number. In addition to the required documents listed below, international students must provide proof of on-campus employment:

  1. Download, complete and have your employer sign the Social Security Employer Verification form.
  2. Submit an online request for a Social Security letter.
  3. Bring the signed employer verification form to the International Center.
  4. The center will return the fully signed form to you.

The Social Security Administration provides more information about Social Security numbers for international students.

International scholars (J-1/H-1B)

The hosting MU department does not need a Social Security number to begin employing an international scholar. Any departmental questions regarding this administrative process should be referred to the International Center.

Application process

Required documents:

You will submit all of these documents to the Columbia Social Security office, located at:

3402 Buttonwood Drive (map)
phone: 800-772-1213