Social Security for International Employees

If you are entering from outside of the U.S. for the first time, you will not have a Social Security Number (SSN). This number is needed by all U.S. employers to track your lifetime earnings, and number of years worked in the U.S. It is also used to obtain a U.S. credit card, rent an apartment, buy a car or a house, among many other pursuits.

If you are a new international employee on a UMass Lowell issued H-1B, O-1, J-1 or TN status, who does not yet have a Social Security Number, we recommend you first check in with Human Resources. At that time, you will present proof of work authorization through the completion of an Employment Eligibility Verification Form (Form I-9). The Form I-9 must be prepared within your first three days of employment. It is strongly advisable that you wait 14 days after completion of the Form I-9 before applying for the SSN.

Applying for a Social Security Number

Effective April 7, 2022, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is resuming normal, in-person operations. Accordingly, applicants for a Social Security Number (SSN) can simply visit the closest SSA during normal business hours with the materials described below:

  • Application for a Social Security Card (pdf)
  • A copy of your UMass Lowell offer/invitation letter if you are on a UMass Lowell sponsored H-1B, O-1, J1, or TN.
  • Passport - Please note, your passport will be reviewed and returned at the time of application (a copy will not suffice).
  • A printed copy of your most recent I-94 record. For people new to the US, this is only accessible after entry into the U.S.
  • Visa Document - Form I-797 Approval Notice, when applicable; this is applicable to those on H-1B or O-1 status. TN visa holders might only have the TN visa entry stamp in their passport. J-1 visa holders will present their Form DS-2019.
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD), when applicable - card will be reviewed and returned at the time of application (a copy will not suffice).

The nearest Social Security Administration (SSA) office is located at:

151 Warren Street, Suite 300
The Gateway, Building 11
Lowell, MA 01854
Telephone (local): 1-877-746-9850s

SA Office Hours

  • Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Things to Remember Before You Apply

  • Do NOT use a campus address on your Social Security application. The government can only legally deliver the card to your permanent US address (not a campus address, PO Box, or hotel address).
  • Your name must be listed on your mail box. Card can only be delivered if your name is on the mail box. If a card is unable to be delivered, it will be very difficult for you to arrange a subsequent delivery of the card.
  • Ask for a receipt at the Social Security Administration office. The receipt will be helpful to mitigate any problems encountered with the application.
  • After you receive the card - Contact the Office of Human Resources by phone (not email) at 978-934-3560 with your card number or visit them in person. The latter is preferred. DO NOT send the SSN via email. This is the number by which all your US earnings, taxes, credit scores, and other critical financial information will be associated with. Keep it in a safe location and do not share it with anyone. Check the Legal & Helpful Resources section of this site for information on how to avoid scams.
  • You are permitted to open a bank account without a SSN, by presenting your passport and visa documentation. This is done by completing a W-8 Form with the bank. You may need to refer some bank tellers to this form as not all of them are aware of it.
  • Please note that a UMass Lowell identification number is NOT a legal form of identification beyond the UMass Lowell campus. It cannot be used in place of a Social Security Number.