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Getting Your SSN, ITIN, and/or Work Authorization

What is a Social Security Number?

First, please read this handout from the US Social Security Administration (SSA).

A Social Security number is intended to accurately record your earnings in this country. International students in F-1 status have permission to work on campus and are therefore eligible for Social Security numbers. (Note: there are limitations to this permission -- consult the DSO for details.) Students or scholars in J-1 status are eligible for Social Security numbers provided that they have the J-1 sponsor's permission to work.

Most employees are required to pay a certain percentage of their earnings to the Social Security System through the Federal Insurance Compensation Act, otherwise referred to as the FICA tax. However, most F-1 and J-1 employees are usually exempt from the FICA tax.

Note: If you need a Social Security number for any of the reasons listed below but are not eligible for one, you can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).  Since the ITIN number itself is not issued by the DSO, but by the United States government, you will not receive the number immediately. You may have to wait weeks or even months to receive the number.

Do I Need a Social Security Number?

Social security numbers are needed for:

  • Employment – You must have a Social Security number in order to work in the United States.
  • Fellowships – If you are going to receive a fellowship or scholarship payment from Coe, you will need a Social Security number or an ITIN if you are not eligible for a Social Security number.
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Forms – All students and scholars in F-1 or J-1 status who are non-resident aliens for tax purposes are required to fill out an Internal Revenue Service form every year even if they have no U.S.-source income. A Social Security number or ITIN is required on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) forms. For additional information about these requirements, please consult the DSO.

Social security numbers are NOT needed for:

  • Class Registration
  • Banking – F and J-visa holders do not need a Social Security number to open a bank account or for most other financial transactions. The bank may ask F and J-visa holders to fill out Internal Revenue Service form W-8BEN to prove that they are exempt from the requirement of providing a Social Security number.
  • Driver’s License – Although some states require that you have a Social Security number in order to obtain a driver’s license, the State of Iowa does not have such a requirement.
  • Rental agreements

To Get Your Social Security Number

  1. Eligible students must have an offer of on-campus employment before filling out the Application for Social Security Card.
  2. Next, you can retrieve an On-Campus Employment Letter from the DSO. Both your supervisor and the DSO must sign this letter.
  3. Once you have this letter, you are ready to go to the Social Security Administration office in Cedar Rapids. Students will need to take the following documents to the Social Security Administration Office:
    1. Completed application
    2. Employment letter
    3. Passport
    4. Visa
    5. I-94 card or print out
    6. Form I-20

US Social Security Administration
3165 Williams Blvd SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
Daily Hours:
Monday - 9:00 AM-4:00 PM
Tuesday - 9:00 AM-4:00 PM
Wednesday - 9:00 AM-12:00 PM
Thursday - 9:00 AM-4:00 PM
Friday - 9:00 AM-4:00 PM
Saturday - Closed
Sunday - Closed

Options for Getting to the SSA Building

  1. Go with a friend who has a car
  2. Take a Cedar Rapids bus (see bus route)
  3. If you still need help getting there, please contact Peter


You must complete the appropriate forms in the Human Resources Office. Please contact Nicole Farley for assistance (

As you work with your supervisor, please discuss with your supervisor how to complete the regular and required documentation of your employment.