The U.S. Social Security Number (SSN) is generated by the branch of government known as the Social Security Administration (SSA) and not GEC. GEC cannot guarantee that an application will be processed and a card received. We have no control over the SSA offices.
If you have never been a participant on a J-1 visa (or other applicable visa program) before, you will need to apply for a SSN after you arrive in the U.S. in order to work legally. The SSN is an important identification form and is needed for tax purposes.
If you need directions to the closest SSA go to www.ssa.gov, click “Contact US”, and then click “Find an Office.” Enter your zip code and click “Locate” to give you the address. You can click “Get Map and Directions” to help you navigate to the nearest SSA office. Alternatively, you can call Social Security’s toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213.
The documents that you will need to present to the Social Security Officer include:
In order to make the process smoother, follow these five steps:
The application process generally takes between 4-6 weeks. SSA must verify all applications through the Department of Homeland Security Verification Information System. You may request a receipt at the SSA office stating that you have applied. You may be asked to show your receipt indicating that you have applied. Keep it with your important documents until your card arrives.
Occasionally, delays occur during the application process. If your name is not located in the national database, your documents will be sent to another location for validation. The validation process can take anywhere from two weeks to three months. This extra verification process is something that is required by the Department of Homeland Security, and unfortunately, GEC cannot expedite this process.
If you have participated in a J-1 program before, the SSN you were issued during that program will remain your unique number throughout your life. You do not have to reapply for a new card during future programs, but it is only valid with proper DHS authorization as indicated on the actual card. If you do not have your physical Social Security card and you do not remember your SSN, you can visit any SSA office to replace your card. To find an office near you, please visit: www.ssa.gov/locator.
Once you receive your SSN, you are required to show it to your employer in order to receive your paychecks and your end-of-year tax documents.