Applying for a Social Security Number or ITIN

social security cards

Newly arrived international students and scholars in F-1 or J-1 visa status being paid by the university (e.g. compensation, taxable scholarship, fellowship, prize or award) are advised to apply for a SSN soon as possible.

The processing takes 3-4 weeks but you should only need to do it once.

Be sure to report your SSN to your school registrar if you are a student, or to the Employee Service Center (221 Whitney Avenue) if you are an employee. Please do so in person - do not email your SSN or give it over the phone.

Social Security Number

A 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. The temporary number assigned by Yale to new international students and scholars (e.g., 900-00-0000) is NOT an SSN. 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.

Who is Eligible for a SSN?

  • F-1 students who have secured on campus employment, are receiving for-service fellowships, or working off-campus with OPT or CPT.
  • All F-1 PhD students.
  • J-1 students with letter of permission to work from sponsor (either Yale or outside organization, e.g. Fulbright)
  • All J-1 scholars and anyone in H-1B, TN, or O-1 status.
  • J-2 spouses with permission to work from USCIS (i.e. with an EAD card)

Applying for a SSN

If you are eligible for a SSN, here are instructions for how to apply.

Please note application of the SSN is a personal application made to the U.S. Social Security Administration directly by the applicant.

International Taxpayer Identification Number

The International Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and is for international students and scholars who are not eligible for an SSN.

Applying for an ITIN

If you are not eligible for SSN (see criteria in previous section), but need to file a 1040NR tax return (you do not need an SSN or ITIN if you will only file Form 8843) then you need to obtain an ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number).

Important Note:
OISS cannot process ITIN applications for dependents (F-2 or J-2). Dependents should plan to apply for ITIN in person (when services are available) at the local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center.

If you are currently:

  • in the U.S.,
  • in active F-1 status, and
  • not eligible for an SSN (i.e. do not have an on campus job and do not plan to apply for OPT or CPT soon),

you may submit an ITIN application request via OISS Connect.

Filing Your Tax Returns

You will need either an SSN or an ITIN to file your U.S. tax return(s). Once you receive your SSN:

  • Students should report this number in person to their school registrar
  • Faculty and staff should report this number to the Employee Service Center at 221 Whitney Avenue.
Important Note:
Do not write your SSN in the body of an email or text message or send a copy of the SSN card. Read more about identity theft.