Social Security for J-1

Applying for a Social Security Number for J-1 visa-holders

To receive wages in the US, you must apply for a Social Security number. The Social Security Administration is the federal authority which issues the official card with a Social Security number. The government uses the number to keep track of your earnings and tax liability. You are only eligible to apply for a Social Security number if you have a job offer or have begun working already within the regulations of your visa.

To apply, you need the following:

  • Social Security Application Form (print most recent version from
  • Original passport with current visa, I-94 printout, and I-20 form
  • Letter verifying employment (professors and scholars should use the detailed offer letter provided prior to arrival in the US)
  • Letter verifying authorization to work from International Services

You may mail these documents to a Social Security office or apply in person. We strongly recommend that you apply in person to avoid the risk of losing your documents.

Carlisle Social Security Office
200 S. Spring Garden St. • Carlisle, PA 17013 • (717) 243-0085

Office Hours:
Monday 9:00AM - 4:00PM
Tuesday 9:00AM - 4:00PM
Wednesday 9:00AM - 12:00PM
Thursday 9:00AM - 4:00PM
Friday 9:00AM - 4:00PM
Saturday & Sunday Closed
US National Holidays Closed


From Dickinson College, go east on High Street, through the city square (Hanover and High Street intersection) and 3 more blocks to Spring Garden Street. There is a traffic light at the intersection. Turn right onto Spring Garden and go through the next intersection (Spring Garden and Pomfret Street). A shopping center called Castle’s Commons will be on your right. The Social Security office is located in the middle of the center.

When you receive your Social Security Card

What do do next:

Once you receive your card, sign it immediately and make a photocopy. Take the card to the Registrar’s Office and to Financial Operations. They will record the number in your Banner information and report the number to the appropriate offices on campus.

What to remember:

Be aware that your Social Security number is a gateway to your identity and can be used by thieves to open credit card, mobile phone, and other accounts in your name. Identity theft is a serious problem and can create financial problems for you in the future. Take precautions to avoid the use of your Social Security number by someone else.

Here are some tips to remember:

  • Keep your card in a safe place as you do your passport. Do not carry it in your wallet!
  • Giving your number is voluntary, even when you are asked for the number directly. If requested, you should ask why your number is needed, how your number will be used, what law requires you to give your number, and what the consequences are if you refuse. Consider this information before deciding whether to give out your number.
  • If possible, memorize your Social Security number. There are very few occasions when you will need to present your actual Social Security card. These include starting new employment and applying for a Pennsylvania ID card or other government services. With these exceptions, you should always keep your card in its safe place.