Individuals who are eligible to work in the United States may need a Social Security Number (SSN) before starting work or receiving payment. Your SSN is connected to your taxes which you pay based on income.

Social Security Number (SSN) Eligibility

All persons who will be paid by UVM are required to have an SSN. Many individuals who are in the US on visas, including F-1 visas, are not eligible for an SSN unless they have a job. 

You will not be able to apply for your SSN until at least 48 hours after you have completed your initial immigration check-in process with the OIE, and you cannot apply for an SSN more than 30 days before your official employment start date. It is best to apply for your SSN no earlier than a few days before your job begins, as shown on your job offer letter. This will help reduce denials of SSN applications and save you time. 

F-1 and J-1 students must begin the SSN application process with the OIE by requesting an SSN support letter through iStart. The iStart SSN Support Letter request form will require you to upload an official job offer letter that includes your name, job title, hours per week, and the start date of employment. When you submit the form, the OIE will use it to create an SSN support letter for you. Note: if you are a new graduate student funded by UVM and have scheduled an I-9 appointment with our office, we will automatically issue you an SSN support letter at this time.

How to Apply

All applicants must visit the Social Security Administration (SSA) office in downtown Burlington to officially apply for your SSN. The office is located at 128 Lakeside Avenue in Burlington's South End. You do not need an appointment, but the office can be busy so you should expect to wait. New students must wait until at least 48 hours after you have completed your immigration check-in process with the OIE, and students should not visit the SSA more than 30 days before your employment start date.

What to Bring

Prepare in advance for your visit to the SSA by collecting the required documents.

Documents Needed for Students

  • Application for Social Security Card (Form SS-5) from the SSA website
  • Job offer letter
  • OIE Support Letter - request in iStart
  • Passport
  • Visa
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Printed copy of your I-94 from the Customs and Border Patrol website

Documents Needed for Scholars and Employees

  • Application for Social Security Card (Form SS-5) from the SSA website
  • Original Passport
  • Original DS-2019 or I-797 (approval notice for H-1B, E-3, and O-1 statuses)
  • Printed copy of your I-94 from the Customs and Border Patrol website

After Applying for Your SSN

Your official social security card usually arrives at your mailing address within two weeks. Keep this card in a safe place (not in your wallet). It is best to memorize the number. Do not share this information with anyone but an employer, a bank, or other official government purposes. The SSA also advises against laminating your card.

You can begin working at UVM before your SSN is approved, but you must notify UVM Payroll (payroll@uvm.edu) and your US bank once you have received your card so that your records can be updated. It is very important to do this as soon as your SSN arrives in the mail. If you are experiencing SSN delays, we encourage you to check with the SSA on the processing and then discuss your situation with our staff.