International students must be mindful that off-campus employment is only permitted with PRIOR authorization from the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) and the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO) through the issuance of a new Form I-20, Form DS-2019, Form I-797, etc.

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 a Social Security Number.
  • All F-1 and J-1 students and scholars must first be registered in the SEVIS database PRIOR to applying for a Social Security Number (SSN). If you are a new F-1/J-1 student or scholar, please be sure to check in with ISSO before visiting the Social Security Administration (SSA) to confirm you are SEVIS registered.
  • Prior to going to the Social Security Administration (SSA), F-1 students will need a Social Security Letter.

All International Students must present:

For the Social Security process, and applying for a Social Security Letter from the ISSO review the below guide:

Apply Online for a SSN Letter

Nearest Location of a Social Security Office:
Social Security Administration
151 Warren Street, Ste. 300
The Gateway, Building 11
Lowell, MA 01854

Office Hours:

  • Monday: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 9 a.m. - Noon
  • Thursday: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Friday: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Saturday & Sunday: CLOSED

Telephone (local): 1-877-746-9850

The Social Security Office is across from the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center (ICC). You can take the campus shuttle to the ICC.

For students who are applying for their 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 card

Please ask for a receipt from the Social Security Office 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. The 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.

General Information & Things to Remember

REMEMBER to ask for a receipt from the Social Security Administration Office. The receipt allows you to start your UMass Lowell employment, but it will not allow you to be paid.

In order to be paid by UMass Lowell, you MUST provide Human Resources with your Social Security number (SS#) immediately upon receiving it. Human Resources will not be able to pay you until they have received your SS#. You may contact Human Resources at 978-934-3560.

Please note that a UMass Lowell Identification Number is NOT a Social Security Number.