Social Security Numbers
To be employed in the United States, you must have a U.S. Social Security number. This number is issued by the U.S. Social Security Administration. You must file an application with the local Social Security Office to receive this number.
How to apply for a Social Security Number
Go in person to the nearest Social Security Office. (These instructions refer to the office located in Portsmouth, NH, since it is the closest Social Security Office to the University, but you may apply at any S.S. office in the U.S.) You cannot apply for a Social Security Card by mail.
You must present the following documents:
- application for a social security card (application forms are also available at the OISS)
- your valid passport
- your Form I-94 (Record of Arrival and Departure)
- your original Form I-20 (student copy) or DS-2019 (pink copy)
- your assistantship letter, if applicable (students) or your offer of employment and INS Form I-797 (scholars, faculty and staff)
- certification letter from the OISS verifying your eligibility for a Social Security Number
- valid EAD (J-2 dependents only)
Follow the instructions on the application form but note the following exceptions:
If you are a student, in part 16, "Mailing Address," write c/o Office of International Students and Scholars, UNH, Thompson Hall, 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824-3597, if it doesn't already indicate this. Please do not use your own local mailing address.
If you are a scholar, faculty or staff member, you may use your local mailing address, your department address, or the OISS address.
In part 3, "Citizenship," check the box marked "Legal Alien Allowed to Work". (Note: neither eligibility for a social security number nor possession of a social security card gives you actual authorization to work. Students should always check with the OISS before accepting any type of employment. International scholars, faculty and staff should also consult with the OISS if they are considering accepting any additional employment. It is a serious violation of your visa status to work in the U.S. without the proper employment authorization and could be cause for revocation of your visa.
It will take approximately 2-3 weeks for your Social Security Card to arrive. If you have given the OISS as your local address, we will notify you when the card arrives.
By bus from Durham: take the Wildcat Transit Bus (schedules are available at the MUB Information Desk) to Market Square in Portsmouth. Head toward the Federal Building located one block down on 80 Daniel Street (to your left when you are facing the church at Market Square). It is the large brick building with the name displayed on the front. The Federal Building houses both the Social Security Office and the Post Office, as well as several other offices. If you get lost, ask someone for directions for the Post Office which is a familiar landmark.
Theft of social security numbers is, unfortunately, not uncommon. Once someone has stolen your social security number it is relatively easy for them to establish credit (and bills) in your name, the payment of which you could become responsible for. Once you receive your card, you should keep it in a safe place and limit who (other than UNH offices) you give the number to.
Whenever possible, the UNH Payroll Office will begin the process of your paperwork before you actually receive your social security number. However, you must indicate to them that you have applied for the number. It is your responsibility to provide all of the appropriate University offices with your social security number immediately after you receive it in the mail. You should notify the Registrar, Personnel, Payroll, your Department/College, Housing, etc.
You may have already received a University ID number. This is NOT your social security number but is only an internal UNH-issued number. After you receive your social security number and are in the process of notifying the various University offices, we recommend that you write your university ID number on the copy of your Social Security Card you send to the university offices. This will allow the university to cross-reference your new Social Security Number and will help to simplify record-keeping and avoid mistakes and delays when you conduct business with various University offices.
Note for Canadians: This may seem a silly point, but a Canadian number is not interchangeable with a U.S. number. You should not list your Canadian number where a U.S. social security number is requested. Believe it or not it does happen, and individuals can get their paychecks delayed, or have other difficulties - especially when their Canadian number matches another individual's U.S. number.
Foreign nationals who are not authorized to work in the United States because of the type of visa status they hold, are not eligible to receive social security numbers. (This includes all spouses and dependents on F-2 visas as well as those individuals in B visa status.)
Individuals who are not eligible for social security numbers may apply instead for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). An ITIN is available from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which also has a branch office in the Federal Building in Portsmouth. An application for an ITIN is made on IRS Form W-7.
We strongly recommend that you have your dependents apply for the ITIN if they are not eligible for a social security number since a taxpayer ID number must be indicated on your U.S. income tax return which you must file each year. (See the section on taxes for more information on income tax returns.)
If you are an enrolled student at UNH, you will be issued a picture ID Card through the ID Card Office. If you are admitted for the fall semester, you will be taken to this office and assisted with the process during International Student Orientation.
Once you receive your Social Security Number, you may wish to obtain a replacement UNH ID card reflecting this number (rather than the UNH-generated ID number). However, if you choose to do so, you should be be careful not to leave your new ID card in plain view and limit the number of people (other than in UNH offices) you show it to. Since it will now show your social security number, you should guard it in the same manner as you do your actual social security card and the number itself.
Students: To obtain a replacement ID card, go to the Registrar's Office to present your new Social Security Card, then proceed to the I.D. Card Office at Stillings Dining Hall for a replacement card. There is no charge for the replacement ID due to an ID number change.
Staff or Faculty Members: If you are a benefits-eligible faculty or staff member, Human Resources will notify you to go to Stillings Hall to obtain your ID Card. Contact the Human Resources office about replacing your UNH picture ID Card, if necessary.
If you are a non-benefits employee, or you are here on personal funding, funding from another U.S. source, or your home government or university, you will not be eligible for a picture ID card. However, you will be able to obtain a temporary staff ID card which will permit you to use the library and certain other University facilities. In order to obtain this temporary staff ID card, your UNH department must contact Human Resources. They will be required to write a letter to Personnel Services requesting the issuance of a temporary ID card. The letter should include your name, the purpose of your visit at UNH and the length of your stay. Please make these arrangements directly through your department and Personnel Services.
Please remember that everyone has to fill out a W-4 Form (Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate) and Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) to be paid. These forms will be provided to you by your department. You are required to attach a copy of your I-94 and your DS-2019, I-20 or I-797 to these documents in order for them to code your records properly for tax purposes.
Students: If you are receiving money for working at UNH, you should bring your Social Security Card, passport, I-20, DS-2019 or I-797 and I-94 Card to complete Form W-4 and Form I-9 with the department that is hiring you. You also need to send a copy of your documents to Human Resources, 2 Leavitt Lane, so that they can enter you correctly into the University Payroll system as a foreign student. NOTE: J-1 students need permission from the OISS for any on-campus employment, including graduate teaching or research assistantships. Off-campus employment for both F-1 and J-1 students is subject to a different set of regulations, set by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Before you consider any type of off-campus work, refer to the handouts on employment for students on the wall rack outside the OISS Office, look in the student sections of this website and/or schedule a meeting with an OISS staff member.
Staff, Faculty and J-1 Scholars: In most cases, completion of these forms will be done within your department. However, a copy of your social security card, Form DS-2019 or I-797 and your I-94 Card will be required in order for the Personnel and Payroll Offices to process your information accurately.
All International Students and Scholars should check to see if their country has a tax treaty with the United States. If so, you may be eligible to claim an exemption from U.S. taxes for some or all of your earnings. However, you must consult IRS Publication 901, U.S. Tax Treaties to find out if you are eligible. If you are eligible and wish to take advantage of this exemption, you must complete Form 8233 and submit it with the required statement and a copy of your I-20, DS-2019 or I-797 to the OISS. We will review it and send it directly to the Payroll Office for verification and processing. Please be aware that not all tax treaties are the same. While some treaties eliminate taxation entirely, others exempt only a portion of earnings, or exempt only income received from a foreign source.
- General Info
- Prospective Students
- New Students
- Current F-1 Students
- Current J-1 Students
- Former Students and Alumni
- J-1 Exchange Visitor Program
- B-1/B-2 Short Term
- H-1B Employment Visa
- TN (Trade NAFTA)
- Applying for US Citizenship
- Employment & Taxes
- Applying for a NH Driver's License
- Bertram Husch International Scholarship Fund
- Employment Links
- Financial Aid
- Food & Lodging
- Guide to Currency Conversion
- Health Insurance Carriers
- Immigration Attorneys & Links
- International Friendship Group
- International Organizations
- Miscellaneous Links
- UNH Links
- U.S. Government Links
- Voltage Standards Around the World
- Getting to Know UNH