Social Security number

A Social Security number (SSN) is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to keep track of salaries and wages. An SSN is free, but you must have one to work in the U.S.

Applying for a Social Security number

You must be in the U.S. for at least 10 days before you can apply.

  • F-1 and J-1 students for on-campus jobs: You can apply for an SSN within 30 days of starting your job.
  • F-1 for CPT: Once you are approved for CPT, you can apply for an SSN within 30 days of your job start date.
  • F-1 for OPT: You can either:
    • Apply for the SSN when you apply for OPT, or
    • Wait until you get your EAD, then apply for an SSN within 30 days of your job start date.

You must apply for an SSN in-person at a Social Security Administration (SSA) office. There are many in the Detroit area; use the SSA online tool to find the one most convenient for you.

Bring original (not photocopied), current documents or copies certified by the issuing agencies with you when you go to the SSA.

  • Completed SSN application.
  • Valid passport.
  • Visa.
  • I-94.
  • 1-20 or DS-2019.
  • OISS SSN letter
    • Students should logon to the OISS Document Request Portal and complete a request for a Social Security Letter.  The Social Security Letter is typically available from the OISS office the next business day
    • Provide your department with this template to complete and print on their letterhead. 
      • Note: This is for F-1 students only. J-1 Scholars aren't required to provide proof of employment, but you may be asked for it. If this happens, ask to speak to a supervisor.

After submitting your application, you'll receive a receipt or form letter confirming your submission. This receipt shows you are eligible to start work. Your SSN will be mailed to you.

You can review the International Students and Social Security Numbers information from SSA online.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

Spouses and dependents who are not authorized to work in the U.S. must apply for an ITIN for tax purposes (such as being listed on a tax return).  

Get complete instructions for applying for an ITIN from the Internal Revenue Service website, which also offers an FAQ.

Once you have gathered your documents, you can apply for an ITIN in-person at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center or by mail. If you make an appointment at a Taxpayer Assistance Center, this will prevent you from having to mail your official documents.

If you prefer to mail your application package, send it to:

Internal Revenue Service
Austin Service Center
ITIN Operation
PO Box 149342
Austin, Texas  78714-9342