Social Security Number Application Procedures

What you should know before you apply for a Social Security Number (SSN)
  • If you will receive payment from the University of Miami in exchange for your services, you must apply for and obtain a Social Security Number (SSN).

  • Due to Social Security Administration policies and procedures, it may take up to two months for an eligible scholar to receive a Social Security Number. At the request of your department, the University of Miami Payroll Office will issue manual checks for a maximum of four months to those exchange visitors that have applied for, but not yet received their Social Security Number, and who have an offer to work for the University with payment for longer than six months. Please be mindful that it can take several weeks for you to receive your first University of Miami payment, which is normally provided on the last business day of the month. If you enter the U.S. and apply for a SSN in the second half of any given month, processing of your first University of Miami check may take until the end of the following month. You should bring with you sufficient funding to cover anticipated expenses until you receive your first University of Miami check.

  • All other exchange visitors cannot receive payment from the University until they have received a Social Security Number and have provided the number to the University for Payroll purposes. It is therefore critical that scholars who will receive UM payment but do not have an offer to work at UM for longer than six months, bring with them sufficient funding to cover anticipated expenses for at least the first two months of their stay as there may be delays in processing their Social Security Number applications. Some banks will allow you to open an account before you receive your SSN if you complete a Form W-8, available at the bank, while other banks do not require any SSN to open an account for you.

  • You may not take your application (see below) to SSA until you have been in the U.S. for a minimum of 10 days and no sooner than one day after your scholar orientation. This is how long it will take U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) to review your records in CIS's pre-processing immigration document/status verification check called "SAVE" (Systematic Alert Verification for Entitlements).

How to apply for a SSN
Step 1 - Take your employment offer letter from your department, Form I-94, Form DS-2019, and passport to SSA along with a foreign or US driver's license or your birth certificate. (Visit for information and directions to the Social Security office nearest you.)

Step 2 - At SSA, complete Form SS-5, Application for SSN. You must include your legal name as the name to be printed on your Social Security Card. Your legal name is the name in your passport. The name you enter on Form SS-5 must EXACTLY match the name reflected in your passport. You should request a receipt at the time that you apply for the SSN for verification that you have applied for a SSN.

Your Social Security Card will be mailed to your U.S residential address in approximately two weeks. The process may take up to two months if your records do not immediately appear in SAVE.

After you receive your SSN
The SSN is an important document and should be safeguarded.

Report your SSN to your department, the office where you completed your Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification), and to International Student and Scholar Services.

Social Security Number and Taxes
Although your employer should withhold any U.S. income tax related to your employment, Social Security Withholding/Medicare (F.I.C.A.) should not be deducted from the salary of J-1 scholars, unless you are considered a "resident for tax purposes," a situation which normally occurs after a scholar has been here at least two years.