Social Security and ITIN


If you encounter an E-Form access issue and have tried accessing the E-form in multiple web browsers, please email iss[at]umass[dot]edu

There is no need to come to the IPO to request documents. Anything you need from our office can be requested online. Please see the instructions below.

Social Security Number (SSN) is used by employers and employees for the purpose of reporting individual employee earnings for tax purposes. The SSN is valid for life, so you only need to apply once. An SSN is also often used for a variety of unofficial purposes, such as opening phone, utility, or bank/credit card accounts, however you can do all those transactions without an SSN.

You must be currently present in the U.S. on a visa category/status that allows you to request of a Social Security Number.

If you are working in the U.S., you are expected to get an SSN as your employer will need this. NOTE: you can begin to work and get paid even if you don’t have the SSN, but you should make every effort to get it quickly.

This helpful sheet from the Social Security Administration provides more information on working without an SSN if you need to give it to your non-UMass employer.

Application Information and Where to Apply

You cannot apply for an SSN abroad. Applications can be started online but must be finished in person within 45 days of your online submission at a Social Security Administration office.

The closest SSN Office is located at Holyoke, MA:
200 High Street
Holyoke, MA 01040
Phone: (877) 480-4989

Check the link above for their hours—it is generally best to go earlier in the day when the SSN office has just opened.

Applications usually take 3-4 weeks to process but can take as long as 2 months. If you have not received your card in the mail within 2 months of application, you will need to contact the office where you submitted your SSN application.

Documents Needed for the SSN application

You will need to include the following documents in your SSN application:

  • Valid Passport
  • Visa Stamp (unless Canadian)
  • SS-5 (SSN Application) electronic version; Paper Version of the SS-5 (you must complete either the paper version or the electronic version to apply)
  • I-94: go to “Get my I-94” at the top of the website and put in your personal information. They want your I-94 NOT your travel history.
  • Additional requirements will be listed in each specific status below.
F-1 Student Working On-Campus at UMass
  • On-campus employment letter. You will need to acquire your letter (sample here) from your hiring department on their official department letterhead. The hiring department must provide a wet signature in blue ink. Digital or electronic signatures are no longer accepted by the SSA.
  • DSO letter from the IPO. Submit a copy of your on-campus employment letter through this E-form to request the DSO letter. You will be notified by email once your letter is ready for you to pick up at the IPO. The processing time is 5 business days.
  • Most recent I-20
  • Note: Students on a new I-20 record are required to complete the New Student Check In Process before you can apply for an SSN. Your application will be denied if you have not completed the new student check-in e-form 

F-1 Student on CPT

  • Approved CPT I-20 provided by the IPO. If you do not have the CPT I-20, you should request one here.
  • Job offer letter from internship
F-1 Student on OPT
  • You should apply for an SSN through the I-765. Follow the OPT I-20 Request Process here.
J-1 Student at UMass
  • All J-1 Students are eligible for an SSN.
  • Most recent DS-2019
  • Note: Students on a new DS-2019 record are required to complete the New Student Check In Process. You will receive IPO’s signed SSN letter after you have completed and been approved for the J-1 New Student Check In e-form; the letter will be available for pickup in our lobby.
J-1 Scholar at UMass
  • All J-1 Scholars are eligible for an SSN.
  • You will receive the IPO’s signed SSN letter after you have completed and been approved for the J Arrival Form; the letter will be available for pickup in our lobby.   
  • Most recent DS-2019
Third Party (non-UMass sponsored: Fulbright, LAPSAU, US AID, etc.)
  • Work directly with your visa sponsoring agency to obtain the correct SSN letter
  • Follow the J-1 Scholar or J-1 Student SSN instructions noted above
Active H-1B/O-1
  • Eligible for an SSN upon entry to the U.S.
  • Original I-797 Approval Notice with I-94 record
  • H-1B/O-1 Visa stamp, if applicable
  • Eligible for an SSN upon entry to the U.S.
  • I-797 Approval Notice, if applicable
  • Only dependents (J-2 spouse, H-4 spouse, etc.) who are eligible for to apply for work authorization with USCIS can get an SSN. The dependent should request the SSN through the I-765.


Social Security Denial Letter

A Social Security Denial Letter is needed as proof of ineligibility if you are applying for a driver’s license or state ID. Getting an SSN Denial Letter does not prohibit you from applying for an SSN in the future.

  • To Request a Denial Letter: Fax copies of the following documents to 833-902-2526: your completed SS-5 application (write “looking for denial” at the top of this application), passport ID page, and your current I-20 or DS-2019.

International Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

The International Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and is for certain non-resident aliens and their dependents who are not eligible for an SSN but need to file tax documents.  Note: you do not need an ITIN to file an 8843. If you are a paid employee and have a W-2, you should not use an ITIN but apply for an SSN. 

To obtain an ITIN, you must complete IRS Form W-7, IRS Application for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. The Form W-7 requires documentation substantiating foreign/alien status and identity for each individual. We recommend that you use an IRS-authorized Certified Acceptance Agent or go to a designated IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center. Do NOT mail your original documents as they can get lost.

Allow 7 weeks for the IRS to notify you of your ITIN application status (9 to 11 weeks if you submit the application during peak processing periods (January 15 through April 30) or if you’re filing from overseas). After processing, the IRS will issue your ITIN through the mail.

The ITIN does not:

  • entitle the recipient to social security benefits
  • indicate immigration status
  • give the right to work in the U.S.

NOTE: the IPO does not process or advise on ITIN requests.