Social Security

hand holding a social security card

Overview 

Anyone who works in the U.S. must have a Social Security card with a Social Security number. Numbers will only be issued to people who have permission to be employed in the United States. 


For International Students

How to apply 

  • The Social Security Administration has a webpage about International Students and Social Security Numbers if you need more information. 
    • Please note: Numbers are not issued for purposes of general identification - driver licenses, tax returns, bank accounts, phone service, etc.  Bank accounts can be opened by completing IRS Form W-8Certificate of Foreign Status.
  • SISS has copies of the Social Security card application or you can download the PDF form from the agency website. The completed application must be filed in person at an agency office.
  • Please request the required letter from SISS via our iGlobal portal.  Please allow one week for processing.  You will be emailed when it is ready to be picked up.

Required Documentation 

For F-1 Students  For J-1 Students 
  • Valid Passport (must be valid at least 6 months into the future at all times)
  • I-94 record
  • I-20
  • Letter from SISS confirming that you are eligible for employment (Request via the iGlobal portal)
  • Proof of employment, such as a job offer or pay stub.  Please make sure that your job offer letter is on official letterhead and signed/dated by your supervisor. It must include the following information:
    • Job Description
    • Employment start date
    • Number of hours you are or will be working
    • Your supervisor’s name and telephone number
  • Valid Passport (must be valid at least 6 months into the future at all times)
  • I-94 record
  • DS-2019
  • Letter from SISS confirming that you are eligible for employment (Request via the iGlobal portal)
  • Proof of employment, such as a job offer or pay stub.  Please make sure that your job offer letter is on official letterhead and signed/dated by your supervisor. It must include the following information:
    • Job Description
    • Employment start date
    • Number of hours you are or will be working
    • Your supervisor’s name and telephone number

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number 

Individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITINs) are nine-digit numbers issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to individuals who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a Social Security number (SSN).  ITINs are intended for tax use only. 

Who should apply for an ITIN?

  • Foreign nationals who are not eligible for a SSN:
  • To whom the University wishes to provide reimbursement for expenses;
  • Who file a U.S. tax return;
  • Who are claimed as dependent on U.S. tax returns;
  • Will file a joint U.S. tax return with an U.S. citizen/permanent resident spouse.

How do I apply for an ITIN?

  • It is possible to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), which is a nine-digit number issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to individuals who are not eligible for an SSN. This number is sometimes useful for other identification purposes. If a student needs an ITIN, refer to the IRS information.
  • Please note: Unless a person has received training from the IRS to give tax advice, it is against the law to do so. SISS staff are not allowed to advise on tax matters (including on how to get an ITIN number)

For International Scholars

There are many different reasons why you may need to get a Social Security Card during your time at UC Davis, which includes different needs and policies for International Scholars. SISS staff is here to help answer any questions you may have in understanding how to navigate the system as a foreign national.

How to apply 

Anyone who receives income from a U.S. source must have a Social Security card with a Social Security number (SSN). The number is optional for J-1 scholars who do not receive income from a U.S. source. All applicants should wait a minimum of 10 days after arrival in the U.S. before applying for an SSN.

Application forms are available at the Social Security website. To obtain a Social Security number, J-1 international scholars and other non-immigrant employees must complete the Application to Obtain a Social Security Card and present it at the social security office, along with the original documents listed below, and copies of those documents that the social security official can keep:

  • A valid passport;
  • I-94 record
  • DS-2019 (J-1 scholars) or I-797 Approval Notice (H-1B, TN, E-3, O-1 scholars);
  • The Invitation Letter or Letter of Appointment from your department at UC Davis

For J-2 Dependents

J-2 dependents are not eligible for an SSN unless they have applied for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and received a work permit card. The EAD is a work permit that can be granted by the USCIS. Please refer to Work Authorization for J-2 Dependents for instructions and information about obtaining a permit.

For J-2 dependents who do not have work authorization, it is possible to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), which is a nine-digit number issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to individuals who are not eligible for an SSN. This number is sometimes useful for other identification purposes. If a J-2 dependent needs an ITIN, refer to the IRS information


Social Security Taxes 

For Students 

  • Although you need a Social Security card in order to be employed, F-1 and J-1 visa holders may be excluded from Social Security coverage according to the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961.  This means that neither you nor your employer has to make Social Security payments.  To make sure that your employer understands that Social Security deductions should not be made from your salary, you may refer your employer to IRS Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.
  • If payment has already been deducted from your wages, you should ask your employer to send IRS Form 941C together with a copy of your form I-94 to the Internal Revenue Service Center where the employer files the tax return.  The employer should refund your half of the Social Security deduction and ask you to verify that you have received this sum so that the Internal Revenue Service may reimburse the employer.  If the employer does not refund your portion of the Social Security payment, you should contact the Internal Revenue Service at 1-800-829-1040.

For Scholars

  • Although you need a Social Security number in order to be employed, J-1 scholars may be excluded from Social Security taxes according to the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. This means that it is possible that neither you nor your employer has to make Social Security payments. If you have a J-1 scholar status and you are paid by UC Davis, please contact our Payroll Office to find out if you will be required to have Social Security deductions from your paycheck. Please do this PRIOR to your first paycheck.

Social Security Office Locations

Applications for Social Security cards may be made in person at the following Social Security Offices:

Yolo County residents should go to the West Sacramento office (Davis and Woodland are in Yolo County).

Sacramento County residents should go to the Sacramento office.

Yolo County Office Sacramento County Office
825 Riverside Parkway, Suite 1000 8581 Folsom Boulevard, Suite B

West Sacramento, CA 95691

Phone: (866) 726-8136

Sacramento, CA 95826

Phone: (877) 274-5420

Google Map Google Map

Hours:

  • Monday:  9 a.m. —4 p.m.
  • Tuesday: 9 a.m. —4 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 9 a.m. —12 p.m.
  • Thursday: 9 a.m. —4 p.m.
  • Friday: 9 a.m. —4 p.m.

Hours:

  • Monday:  9 a.m. —4 p.m.
  • Tuesday: 9 a.m. —4 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 9 a.m. —4 p.m.
  • Thursday: 9 a.m. —4 p.m.
  • Friday: 9 a.m. —4 p.m.

For directions other offices, go to the Social Security website and click on Find an Office. You will get the location, a map and the hours the office is open.