Social Security Number

The Social Security Number (SSN) is a nine-digit number administered by the Social Security Administration for use to keep an accurate record of your US wages or self-employment earnings that are covered under the Social Security Act, and to monitor your record once you start getting Social Security benefits.  Do not carry your card with you. Keep it in a safe place with your other important papers.

In general, only nonimmigrants who have permission to work from the US Department of Homeland Security are eligible to apply for a SSN. Applicants must be in a valid nonimmigrant status inside the US at the time of filing. Family members who are on a dependent visa normally will not qualify for a Social Security Number unless they are eligible for and have obtained employment authorization in the US (see chart below).

Do I Need a Social Security Number?

Lawfully admitted nonimmigrants can register for many benefits and services without a SSN such as, but not limited to: conduct business with a bank, register for school, apply for educational tests, obtain private health insurance, and apply for a driver’s license.

Driver License:
You cannot get a SSN for the sole purpose of obtaining a driver license. The Department of Motor Vehicles may ask that you first obtain a letter of denial from the Social Security Administration in order to apply for a driver license.

Nonimmigrants who are not authorized to work in the United States can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number for tax purposes from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You may visit the nearest IRS office in person, call the IRS toll-free number, 1-800-TAXFORM (1-800-829-3676), and request Form W-7, Application For An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Nonimmigrants in F and J status must have your ITIN application filed by OISS.

Application Process

The Social Security Administration asks that you wait a minimum of 10 days from the date of your initial entry to US before visiting the Social Security Office to apply for the SSN. F and J nonimmigrants must wait a minimum of 10 calendar days from the date of check-in at OISS. The Social Security Office may not be able to verify your US Admission record in their database if you do not wait the minimum period.

Applicants who are 12 years of age or older and who are applying for an original SSN must submit an application and be interview IN PERSON at a Social Security Office.

Required Documents

The following ORIGINAL documents will be required at the time of the request.

All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. The Social Security Administration will not accept photocopies, notarized copies of documents, nor receipts showing that you have applied for the document, i.e. USCIS-issued receipt notices (Form I-797C).

  • Social Security Application Form - Available at OISS or online at
  • Evidence of Age and Identity
    • Passport
    • Birth Certificate – If you are Passport-Exempt
    • One Additional Form of Photo Identification - Driver License, Student ID, UCSB Access Card, etc.
  • Evidence of Legal Nonimmigrant Status And Work Eligibility – Please view the chart below for the documents required for your nonimmigrant category



  • Form DS-2019
  • I-94 Admission Record
  • Employment Verification Letter (J-1 students must submit this form to receive letter)
  • For J-2 Dependents: EAD Card


  • Form I-797, Notice of Approval
  • I-94 Admission Record
  • Employment Verification Letter


  • Form I-797, Notice of Approval - For petition request from INSIDE the US
  • I-94 Admission Record
  • Employment Verification Letter


  • Form I-797, Notice of Approval - For petition request from INSIDE the US
  • I-94 Admission Record
  • Employment Verification Letter
  • For E-3D Dependents: EAD Card
Social Security Office in Santa Barbara

122 W. Figueroa Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

For hours of operation, please visit the Social Security Administration's
Office Locator Website (enter "93101" for the Zip Code).