Scholar Social Security Information

Who Needs a Social Security Number?

Scholars who will be employed in the United States must apply for a Social Security Number.

J-1 scholars who will not receive funding from the United States are not required to apply for a Social Security Number but may find it helpful to have one.

How To Obtain Your Social Security Number

Note: If you are in J-1 status, complete check-in procedures with International Student & Scholar Services and wait 7-10 business days before applying for a SSN. This allows time for arrival data from the port of entry and SEVIS to be entered in the primary system that the Social Security Administration uses for authorization validation.

Complete the Application for a Social Security number (Form SS-5). Form is available on the Social Security Administration website or at the Social Security Office.

  • On item #5, select “legal alien allowed to work.”
  • On items #9b/10b, leave blank if not applicable.
  • On item #16 Mailing Address:
    • You may have your Social Security Card sent directly to CSU’s Foreign Tax Administrator if you would like. This will ensure you receive your Social Security Card in the event you change your address.
      • The address is:

Foreign Tax Administrator

Campus Delivery 6003

Fort Collins CO 80523-6003

    • If you are not planning to move, you should use your own address.

Take the following documents to the Social Security Administration office

  • Passport
  • Visa or I-797 Approval Notice
  • DS-2019, if in J-1 status
  • I-94
  • Application for Social Security Number
  • Valid U.S. government-issued identification to get into the building (i.e., unexpired visa, driver’s license, or state ID card)

When you submit your application to the Social Security office, request a receipt or a letter of verification indicating that you have applied for the SSN. It can take 4-8 weeks to receive your Social Security Card by mail, and the receipt will be helpful to the employer’s payroll department.  You can start working before you receive the card. 

Letters of Employment for J-1 Scholars

If you are participating in the Research Scholar, Short-Term Scholar, Professor, or Specialist category, you are not required to provide an employment letter in order to apply for a SSN. However, many scholars have reported they were asked to provide this. If you are asked to show a letter of employment, show the official item #4 on your DS-2019. If the SSA official insists that you must have a letter of employment, ask to speak with a supervisor. The supervisor should be aware of the relevant SSA regulations in Section RM 10211.345A of the Program Operations Manual System, which state “J-1 is employment authorized and a sponsor letter is not required if Item 4 on the DS-2019 identifies one of the following 12 categories…..”

If you are participating in the J-1 Student Intern category, you must get a letter of employment from your hosting department at CSU in order to be eligible to apply for a SSN.  If you are a Student Intern and are not being paid, you are not eligible for a SSN.

Social Security Administration Office

Hours of Operation

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday – 9:00AM – 4:00PM

Wednesday – 9:00AM – 12:00PM


Phone Number: 866-336-7385



301 S. Howes Street, 4th Floor
Fort Collins, Colorado  80521

This office is located in the same government building as the US Post Office on the corner of S. Howes Street and W. Olive Street.


*Please note that because the Social Security Administration is located inside a federal building, you will need to bring a U.S. government-issued ID, go through a metal detector, and have your bag inspected. Examples of U.S. government-issued IDs include an unexpired visa, a Colorado driver’s license, or a Colorado state ID. Your passport will not work because it is not issued by the U.S. government, and your visa cannot be used for this purpose if it is expired.

After Receiving Your Social Security Card

If you are employed by CSU, you should contact the Foreign National Tax Administrator at after receiving your Social Security card.  They will provide you with a link to an information form for you to complete.  Once the form has been completed, you will be contacted to set up an appointment with their office.

Keep your Social Security card in a safe place.  You do not need to carry it with you.

Be careful about sharing your Social Security Number. When in doubt, don’t hand it out!