Social Security Number (Immigration)

Basic information

  • Owner(s):
  • Applies to:
    • Prospective Students
    • Current Students
  • Approved by:
    • International Admissions
  • Issued: December 1, 2021
  • Last updated: December 1, 2021

All students who work in the U.S. must apply for a Social Security Number. This is true for both on- and off-campus jobs.

Once you have a Social Security number, it never changes. You will have the same Social Security Number for life. Even if you leave the United States for 1, 5, or even 50 years, you will use the same Social Security Number when you return.

Only students who have a job may apply for a Social Security number. Applying without a job is not legal. If you do not have a job but are completing an application that requires a Social Security number (such as an application for a driver's license), you may request a letter of ineligibility from the Social Security Administration. Contact the SSA office directly for details.

CISD and the Immigration Office generally offer Social Security number signup once in the spring and once in the fall semester. SSA officials come to campus, or Calvin provides transportation to the SSA office. Follow instructions you receive at the beginning of the semester to sign up for these events.

If you are unable to sign up for one of the events, these are the steps to apply for a Social Security number:

  1. Get a job. You may not apply for a Social Security Number until you have a job offer that you intend to accept.
  2. Call the Social Security office at 1-877-319-5710 or 1-616-363-4128 to schedule an appointment. It often takes a long time to get a hold of them, so be prepared to stay on hold for a while. The wait time to talk with them may be shorter if you call early in the morning.
  3. E-mail the immigration coordinator to request a Social Security application letter. Include your full legal name (as it appears on your I-20) and the date you received the job offer.
  4. Attend the appointment that you scheduled. Take the following documents to your appointment:
    1. The letter
    2. Passport
    3. I-20
    4. I-94 (https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home)
    5. A copy of your passport ID page
    6. A copy of your I-20
    7. Form SS-5 (https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf). Fill out as much of this form as possible before you go. If you have questions about any part, leave it blank and ask the SSA workers when you go to the SSA office.

Replacing a Lost Social Security Card

If you lose your Social Security card, you will need to go through all of the initial steps to replace it. Unless you still have a job, you cannot apply for a replacement card.

Keep in mind that your Social Security number never changes. You may not apply for a new number; you are simply applying for a replacement card with the number you previously received.

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