NOTE: You are permitted to open a bank account without a Social Security Number (SSN), by presenting your passport/visa documentation. You may need to remind the bank teller that you are permitted to open a bank account without a Social Security Number by simply completing a W-8 Form. Some bank tellers are not aware of this and may need to be reminded.

Eligibility to Apply for a Social Security Number (SSN):

  • F-1 students are only eligible to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) if they have an on-campus employment offer that meets the on-campus employment guidelines, or if they have approved off-campus work authorization.
  • J-1 students and scholars do not need proof of on-campus employment to apply for an SSN.
  • All F-1 and J-1 students and scholars must first be registered in the SEVIS database PRIOR to applying for an SSN. If you are a new F-1/J-1 student or scholar, please be sure to check in with the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO) before visiting the Social Security Administration (SSA) to confirm you are registered in SEVIS.
  • Prior to going to the SSA, F-1 students will need a Social Security Letter from the ISSO. Please click on the button below to apply for your SSN Letter.

Apply Online for a SSN Letter

Nearest Social Security Administration Office:

Social Security Administration
151 Warren Street, Ste. 300
The Gateway, Building 11
Lowell, MA 01854

Office Hours:

For the Lowell SSA office's business hours, please visit their Social Security Office Locator webpage.
Telephone (local): 1-877-746-9850

Applying for your Social Security Number AFTER Graduating from UMass Lowell

Please visit the Social Security Office nearest you and present the following:

  • Your Post OPT, Employment Authorization Card (Note: you MUST wait until AFTER the start date on the card to apply)
  • An Employment letter as proof that you have obtained employment
    • Employment letters need to include a specific start date. They cannot accept offer letters that state that a start date has not been determined or that employment is contingent upon the student obtaining a Social Security number. Also, the start date has to be within 30 days of the date you are applying.
  • Your Post OPT, I-20 Form
  • Your Passport
  • Your I-94 record

Additional Considerations

Remember to ask for a receipt from the Social Security Administration as proof that you have applied. You can show this receipt to your employer’s office of Human Resources. If an employee submits a Social Security Number application receipt to the employer, the employer can begin complying with its payroll withholding obligations. Federal regulations also make limited provision for situations where a receipt is not available. See the Foreign Workers and Social Security Numbers Fact Sheet for further information.

Upon receiving your SSN, you must provide this to your employer's Office of Human Resources.

If you have any questions about your employer's SSN requirements or payroll obligations, please contact your employer's Office of Human Resources directly.