Social Security Numbers and Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers

Obtaining a Social Security Number

U.S. federal law requires all individuals employed in the U.S. to have a Social Security Number (SSN). SSNs are issued by the Social Security Administration and are used to track income and tax wages. They are only issued for the purpose of tracking income from employment. The Social Security Administration will not issue an SSN for the purpose of opening a bank account or obtaining a driver's license, utilities or a credit card.

An SSN is not required to begin employment and can only be obtained if you are employed or authorized to be employed.

NOTE: Those students who receive taxable scholarships (this does not include reductions in your tuition only), grants or stipends from U.S. sources, but are not employed in the U.S. (e.g. sponsored students and athletes receiving scholarships), must apply for the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

F-1 and J-1 Students Employed On Campus

To be eligible to apply for a social security number, F-1 and J-1 students must be able to document on-campus employment. In addition, your immigration record must have been registered by the Center for International Services and that registration must have been downloaded in federal government databases. It may take 10 days for the Social Security Administration to be able to view your record from the time the University submits your registration information (usually after the last day to add a class to your schedule).

Obtaining a Social Security Number Based on Employment on Campus:

  1. The Payroll Office will notify the Student Employment Office that an international student has been hired, put on the payroll and does not have a social security number.
  2. The Student Employment Office will prepare an Employer Verification Form (EVF) and send it to the Center for International Services.
  1. The Center for International Services will email the student with instructions to complete and submit a Form SS-5 either online or at Application for a Social Security Card and to come to the office to pick up the Employer Verification Form.
  1. The student will go to the Social Security Administration office at:
    • Federal Building, 4th Floor
      100 S. Clinton St,
      Syracuse, NY  13261
    • Telephone:  1.866.755.4884
    • TTY:  1.800.325.0778
    • Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm; closed on weekends
    • The student must take the following to the Social Security Administration office:
      • Completed Form SS-5 Application for a Social Security Card or a print out of the confirmation page of submitting the application online
      • Completed Employer Verification Form (EVF) signed by the Student Employment Office and the Center for International Services
      • Original, valid passport with entry stamp indicating F-1/J-1 status and authorized period of stay
      • Printout of the electronic I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
      • Most recent Form I-20 (F-1) or Form DS-2019 (J-1)
  1. Request a RECEIPT letter for your application.
  2. Report your SSN to the University after you receive your SSN card in the mail (in approximately 10-14 days). The University must report your income and tax withholding to the federal and state government using your social security number.
      • Take a copy of your SSN card with your student number written on it to the Student Employment Office in 210 Steele Hall.

Obtaining a Social Security Number Based on Employment on Authorized Curricular Practical Training or J-1 Academic Training:

If you are authorized for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or J-1 Academic Training (AT) and you do not already have a social security number, you may apply for one based on the CPT/AT authorization.

You may begin working without an SSN, but you will need to report an SSN to your employer if you are getting paid.

  1. After you are authorized for CPT or J-1 AT, complete and submit Form SS-5 either online or at  Application for a Social Security Card .
  2. Go to the Social Security Administration office at:
    • Federal Building, 4th Floor
      100 S. Clinton St.
      Syracuse, NY  13261
    • Telephone:  1.866.755.4884
    • TTY:  1.800.325.0778
    • Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm; closed on weekends

If you are not in Syracuse, please check for your nearest local office with the Social Security Administration.

You must take with you:

      • Completed Form SS-5 Application for a Social Security Card or a print out of the confirmation page of submitting the application online
      • Original, valid passport with entry stamp indicating F-1/J-1 status and authorized period of stay
      • Printout of your electronic I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
      • Your most recent Form I-20 (F-1) with the CPT authorization or Form DS-2019 (J-1) and Academic Training authorization letter

NOTE: The Social Security Administration will not accept an application for a social security number more than 30 days before the start date of the Curricular Practical Training or J-1 Academic Training authorization.

Obtaining a Social Security Number Based on Optional Practical Training Authorization

F-1 students may apply for a social security number as part of the application for Optional Practical Training (OPT). The social security number is usually sent in the mail 10-14 days after the approval for OPT.

If you apply for an SSN at the same time as you apply for OPT and you received your OPT approval but not your SSN, you should visit the local Social Security Administration office to inquire about it:

  • Federal Building, 4th Floor
    100 S. Clinton St.
    Syracuse, NY  13261
    • Telephone:  1.866.755.4884
    • TTY:  1.800.325.0778
    • Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm; closed on weekends

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a number assigned to individuals by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS is the United States agency responsible for tracking income and collecting taxes.

The ITIN is used as a way to identify individuals who have to file a tax return, but are not eligible for a social security number (SSN) because they are not employed.

If you are an F-1/J-1 student who does NOT have an SSN and who is NOT working, but will be receiving income from a U.S. source (scholarship, fellowship, grant, stipend), then you are eligible for an ITIN.

If you have an F-2/J-2 dependent and are from a country that allows dependents to be claimed on your income tax return, then they are also eligible for an ITIN.

You can apply for your ITIN shortly after you arrive in the U.S., once your immigration record has been activated in the SEVIS system (i.e. after you have registered full-time at Syracuse University)

OR

You can wait and file your ITIN application when you file your tax return. Dependents (F-2/J-2) must apply for an ITIN when the primary (F-1/J-1) files their tax return.

NOTE: J-1 sponsored students (Fulbright, IIE, LASPAU, etc.) should check with their program sponsor about how and when they should apply for an ITIN.

To apply for an ITIN because you receive a scholarship, fellowship, grant or stipend:

  1. Complete IRS Form W-7 (Application for ITIN).
    • Click here for detailed instructions on how to complete the form.
  2. Obtain a Certification Letter from the Center for International Services.
    • You may obtain a Certification Letter during walk-in hours (Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.) or call 315.443.2457 to schedule an appointment with a Center advisor.
    • Bring the following with you to the Center for International Services:
      • Completed Form W-7
      • Passport and visa
      • I-20/DS-2019
      • Printout of electronic I-94
      • Award letter for your scholarship, fellowship, grant or stipend

        NOTE: You may apply for an ITIN without obtaining a Certification Letter from the Center for International Services. However, that requires that you mail your original passport and other supporting documentation to the IRS, and we strongly recommend against mailing your passport. 

        1. The Center for International Services will mail your ITIN application to the IRS.
        2. You should receive your ITIN within 6-8 weeks.
          • If, after waiting 6-8 weeks, you still have not received your ITIN, you can call the IRS to find out the status of your application.
            • Call 1.800.829.1040 if you are in the United States.
            • Call 267.941.1000 (not a toll-free number) if you are outside of the United States.
              1. Complete the Foreign National Information System Form.
                • This form allows Payroll to know how to properly deduct taxes from your payments.
                • To obtain access to the form, email nratax@syr.edu with your SUID number.
                • Any questions about this form should be directed to nratax@syr.edu.

              If you are filing your ITIN application with your tax return:

              1. Complete your federal tax return.
                1. The Center for International Services offers Syracuse University international students and scholars free access to specialized tax software. For more information, visit the Tax section of our website.
              2. Complete IRS Form W-7 (application for ITIN).
                • Click here for detailed instructions on how to complete the form.
                • If you utilize the SPRINTAX software, it will automatically fill in Form W-7 for you.
              3. Make an appointment at the Taxpayer Assistance Center (in downtown Syracuse) to have your immigration documents authenticated so that you do not have to mail your original passport to the IRS. Take the following with you to your appointment at the Taxpayer Assistance Center:
                • Completed Form W-7
                • Passport and visa
                •  I-20/DS-2019
                • Printout of electronic I-94
                • Award letter for your fellowship, scholarship or grant

              NOTE: You may apply for an ITIN without having your documents authenticated by the IRS. However, that requires that you mail your original passport and other supporting documentation to the IRS, and we strongly recommend against mailing your passport. 

              1. Assemble your application in the following order:
                • Certification Letter
                • Completed Form W-7
                • Copies of passport and visa
                • Copy of I-20/DS-2019
                • Your completed U.S. tax return
              1. Make a copy of your application to keep for your own records.
              2. Mail your application to:

              Internal Revenue Service
              Austin Service Center
              ITIN Operation
              P.O. Box 149342
              Austin, TX 78714-9342

              1. The IRS will process your ITIN application and then send it to the tax return processing unit.
              2. You should receive your ITIN within 6-8 weeks.
                • If, after waiting 6-8 weeks, you have still not received your ITIN, you can call the IRS to find out the status of your application.
                  • Call 1.800.829.1040 if you are in the U.S.
                  • Call 267.941.1000 (not a toll-free number) if you are outside of the U.S.
              1. Login and complete Foreign National Information System Form
                • This form allows Payroll to know how to properly deduct taxes from your payments.
                • To obtain access to the form, email nratax@syr.edu with your SUID number.
                • Any questions about this form should be directed to nratax@syr.edu.