Application Process

May 5, 2022

Social Security transitions from paper to online application, but in-person appointment still required

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has transitioned the Social Security Number (SSN) application form from the paper SS5 form to an online application.  Applicants must go to the SSA website to complete the application before going to the SSA Office to apply for the SSN.  The online application can be completed up to 45 days before the in-person office visit.  On the final page of the online application the applicant will receive an alpha numeric receipt number. Applicants should print or take a screen shot of the receipt and be ready to present it along with the other required application documents at the in-person appointment.

The online application only replaces the paper SS5 form.  All other supporting documents are still required at the time of the in-person appointment. Applicants under the age of 18 should complete the paper SS-5 application form.

April 8, 2022

Local Social Security Offices Resume Walk-in Appointments

On April 7, 2022 the Social Security Administration announced it is resuming walk-in appointments at most local offices.  This means it is no longer necessary to contact the Social Security Office in advance to schedule an in-person appointment.  Walk-in appointments will be taken care of on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

The Social Security Office asks that applicants who have recently entered the U.S. wait at least 5 days from the date of arrival before coming to the office, and that applicants review the Self-Assessment Health Checklist for Visiting Social Security Offices.

Required Documents

To apply, you must submit original of the following documents to a Social Security Administration office in person:

  • Current Immigration Document
    • Form I-20  for F-1 students
    • Form DS-2019 for J-1 Exchange Visitors
    • Valid I-797 Notice of Approval for H-1B and O-1 visa holders
  • Valid passport 
  • Valid or expired visa stamp, if you have one. Canadians are visa exempt.
  • Current, valid I-94 record (most recent I-94) of arrival (If you traveled outside the U.S. during the break, you may have a newer I-94 record).
    • If you entered the U.S. by land or sea, the I-94 white card is usually stapled to your passport.
    • If you entered the U.S. by air, your arrival will be processed electronically by Customs and Border Protection. After you enter the U.S., access and print your electronic I-94 record.
  • Printed receipt from the online Social Security card application form filing
    • Make sure to enter your mailing address in the correct format. See below:

                    63 S Main Street (street number, street name)

                    Suite 303 (apartment or suite number, if applicable)

                    Hanover, NH 03755 (city, state, zip code)

  • Proof of SSN eligibility (see additional documents below)

Additional Documents

  • For J-1 Exchange Visitors sponsored by Dartmouth College: Letter of authorization from OVIS verifying eligibility for on-campus or off-campus employment, and the job currently offered or held.  Request the authorization letter.
  • For F-1 students who are working at Dartmouth College: a letter from your immediate supervisor, on department letterhead, verifying your on-campus employment, signed by both your employment supervisor and your OVIS advisor.

This F-1 student letter template is available online (F-1 General and F-1 PhD). Please have your supervisor download it, print it out on department letterhead, complete and sign it in blue ink. You must then bring it to OVIS for certification by your OVIS advisor. The letter should have a current term date. 

If you are an F-1 student and will be working pursuant to Curricular Practical Training (CPT) at a third party employer, you must obtain a letter of employment from that employer.

SSA guidelines require the F-1 or J-1 employment authorization to be valid for at least 14 days into the future to issue a SSN card.

F-1 and J-1 students: you may not work more than 20 hours per week during enrolled terms. Please make certain that your letter does not indicate more than 20 hours per week.

  • For J-2 dependents: Employment Authorization Document (temporary work card)
  • For H-1B, TN and O-1 status holders: Letter of appointment or employment offer

OVIS recommends carrying a set of photocopies of all documents with the application.

When to Apply

Any individual allowed to work in the U.S. according to their immigration status is eligible to apply for a SSN.

  • F-1 students working on-campus and students working on CPT (Curricular Practical Training) can apply for a SSN no more than 30 days before the start date of their job.
  • F-1 students on OPT (Optional Practical Training), working off-campus, cannot apply for a SSN until the start date on their EAD card.

Where to Apply

There is no local Social Security Administration office in Hanover. OVIS hosts bus trips to the Concord Social Security Office for international students and scholars during the fall and winter terms. Participation is limited.

Concord, NH
70 Commercial Street, Suite 100, Concord, NH 03301

Keene, NH
9 Elm Street, Keene, NH 03431
(603) 352-3487 or (800) 772-1213

Greyhound Bus Lines leaves out of White River Junction, Vermont, for Keene.

Littleton, NH
177 Main Street, Littleton, NH 03561
(603) 444-2945 or (800) 772-1213

If You Do Not Receive Your SSN Card Within 2 Weeks of Application

In situations where the applicant does not receive the card due to an issue such as a problem with the mail, the Social Security Administration (SSA) can take action to reissue the card if you call SSA. Unfortunately that provision only applies for 45 days after SSA has issued the original card. 

If you do not receive your SSN card within the 2-week period after applying at the SSA, check the letter type you received after your SSN application. If you received a "Receipt Letter," contact SSA right away. If you received an "Acknowledgement Letter," SSA must confirm the validity of you documents. This process can take an additional 4 weeks. Regardless, you must contact SSA within the 45-day period following your application at SSA in order to get the issue resolved.

Ineligibility letter

If you do not have authorized employment, then you are not eligible for a Social Security Number. Social Security Office will issue a letter confirming you are not eligible, which you can use as part of your application for a driver's license. F-1 students seeking an ineligibility letter should send a completed packet below to the Social Security Office in Concord, NH. The Social Security Office will be able to issue the letter without the need for an in-person appointment.

SS-5 form

  *Write clearly on the top of the SS-5 form "not work authorized".

Photocopies of immigration documents:

  • Passport (photo ID page with expiration date)
  • Form I-20
  • F-1 visa stamp
  • Most recent I-94 arrival record