What is a Social Security number?

A Social Security number (SSN) is used to report your wages to the U.S. government and to determine eligibility for Social Security benefits. Social Security numbers do not represent permission to work, nor are they proof of US citizenship or permanent residence. Social Security numbers can be assigned to foreign workers who are authorized to work in the United States.

Your Social Security Number is an important identifying number and should be kept in a safe place to avoid identity theft. Please do not give out this number to unknown parties, especially over the phone or email.

More Information on a
Social Security Number


In order to issue a Social Security number, the Social Security Administration requires evidence that you:

  • Are eligible to work in the U.S.
  • Are a full-time student
  • Have received a formal offer of on-campus employment.

F-1 international students can apply for a SSN only after they have secured employment on-campus.

Required Documents to Apply for SSN

To apply for a SSN, please gather the required documents:

  • Your current I-20 (with DSO and your signature)
  • Your passport (valid for at least 6 months into the future)
  • Your F-1 visa (in your passport) or I-797 receipt for your change of status to F-1
  • Your I-94 card printed from the CBP website: here
  • Offer letter from your employer
  • An enrollment confirmation letter from the Registrar’s Office. Please ask the Registrar’s Office directly for this document by emailing them directly (registrar@annamaria.edu ) or going to the Registrar’s Office in person.
  • Support letter from your international student advisor.
  • Completed Social Security application here print and bring with you.

Job Offer Letter

Once you have acquired employment on-campus, your supervisor must provide you with a job offer letter. This letter must describe:

  • Your job title and the department that hired you;
  • Your employment start date;
  • The number of hours you are, or will be, working; and
  • Your supervisor’s name and telephone number

How do I apply?

Once you have gathered all of the required documents, you can visit the Social Security Administration (SSA) in person to apply for a SSN.

The closest SSA is in Worcester.

Address: 51 Myrtle St, Worcester, MA 01608
Phone Number: (800) 772-1213
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9AM-4PM

Am I required to pay the FICA tax?

Most employees are required to pay a certain percentage of their earnings to the Social Security System through the Federal Insurance Compensation Act, otherwise referred to as the FICA tax. However, most F-1 and J-1 employees are usually exempt from the FICA tax. Employers are frequently unaware of this provision. This exemption can be found under Section 3121 (b) (19) of the Internal Revenue Code.

If your employer is deducting FICA taxes, most companies can refund you this money. If your employer will not refund these taxes, the U.S. government has a procedure for filing a return. If you are considered a Resident Alien for tax purposes, then you are NOT ELIGIBLE for a FICA tax refund. Resident Aliens are treated (for tax purposes) like U.S. citizens.

  • Each year, U.S. citizens and non-citizens alike are required to file taxes, generally due April 15th for the previous tax year. While the International Programs and Services Office does not give tax advice nor aid in tax preparation, we do offer resources each year, including access codes to tax preparation software, to help you prepare to file. The college does contract with Sprintaxtax services focused on assisting international students with tax form preparation. Please review the information in the SPRINTAX Instructions for Students 2023 for additional information.

How to get a FICA tax refund?

First, try to get a FICA refund from your employer. This is the easiest and most efficient way to get your refund. If you receive a refund from your employer, there is no need to file additional paperwork with the IRS.

If you have spoken to your employer and the company is unable to refund your FICA withholdings, you can file for a refund through the IRS.

To file with the IRS:

  • You must try to get a statement from your employer concerning why they are unable to refund your FICA withholdings. If your employer refuses to give you a written statement, there is a space on Form 8316 to explain the situation.
  • Fill out IRS Form 8316 (PDF)
  • Fill out IRS Form 843 (PDF)

Include the following documents in your mailing:

  • A copy of your W-2
  • A copy of your most recent nonresident income tax return (if available)
  • A copy of the visa page of your passport
  • A copy of Form I-94
  • A copy of your work authorization (if you are on OPT)
  • A copy of your Form I-20 or DS-2019 (if you are on CPT or Academic Training)
  • A written statement that you unsuccessfully requested a refund of these taxes from your employer (This can be the statement you obtained from your employer, or your own statement that you were denied refund of these taxes by your employer and were unable to obtain a statement from them)

You can send your paperwork in one of two was:

  • If you are sending your paperwork with your tax returns, then send it to the same address you are sending your taxes.
  • If you are sending your forms independent of your tax forms, you should send all your paperwork to this address:
    Internal Revenue Service Center ATTN:
    FICA Return Department of the Treasury IRS Center Odgen, UT 84201-0038

Am I considered a resident alien for tax purposes ?

Students in F-1 or J-1 status usually become Resident Aliens for tax purposes after spending a certain amount of time in the U.S. For F-1 students, the time is approximately five years; for J-1 students, it is two years.

If you have a Green Card, H-1B status, or meet the “Substantial Presence Test,” you are considered a Resident Alien for tax purposes. To read more about if you meet the “Substantial Presence Test,” visit the Substantial Presence Test (PDF) section of the IRS website

What is an ITIN?

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the IRS. It is a nine-digit number that always begins with the number 9 and has a 7 or 8 in the fourth digit: example 9XX-7X-XXXX.

The IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration.

For example, if you have a fellowship, it is not considered employment, so you are not eligible to apply for an SSN. However, your fellowship is taxable income, so you need to file an income tax return. In this instance, you would apply for an ITIN.

Even though the nine-digit number combination looks similar to an SSN, you cannot use an ITIN for identification purposes; it is strictly for tax uses only. For example, you cannot use an ITIN to apply for a bank account or a cell phone plan.

For more information on how to apply for an ITIN, visit the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number section of the IRS website.

Do I need to file a form 8843 during tax season?

Contrary to popular belief, even students who did not receive an income during the year have to file a tax form. This form is called Form 8843 (PDF). All students who are considered non-resident aliens for tax purposes have to fill out this form. If you had an income and filed the 1040NR (using CINTAX or a paper form), Form 8843 should be attached to your tax file and submitted by the annual tax deadline of April 15. However, students who did not file a 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ (students who did not have an income) have additional time to file Form 8843, which should submitted by June 15.

Identity Theft

It is not recommended that you carry your SSN card with you in your wallet as you do not need it for everyday reasons. If someone steals your SSN, it is easy for that person to commit “identity theft” and make financial purchases in your name. Visit  Federal Trade Commission for more information on identity theft.