Social Security Numbers for Scholars

Eligibility for a Social Security Number

In most cases, if you have a job or are preparing to begin work, you must apply for a Social Security number (SSN).

  • J-1 Exchange Visitors in the Professor, Research Scholar or Short-term Scholar categories, who will receive payment from Notre Dame are automatically eligible based on the nature of their visa, but they must still apply. 
  • Scholars who will not receive payment from Notre Dame are not eligible for a Social Security number.
  • Dependents of J-1 Exchange Visitors are not eligible unless they obtain work authorization from USCIS.

If you are not paid by the University of Notre Dame or a U.S. institution, you cannot obtain a SSN. Scholars and dependents without a job may obtain a Letter of Social Security Number Ineligibility which can be used to apply for an Indiana Driver’s License.

Your NDID number is NOT a temporary Social Security number. Do NOT enter your NDID number on any tax forms, applications for credit cards, utilities, etc. When filling out forms that request your Social Security number, indicate that you have applied for the number, or leave it blank, as the case may be.

Social Security Numbers and Access to Service

In the state of Indiana an international scholar or dependent does NOT need a Social Security number in order to obtain the following:

  • An Indiana state ID or driver’s license 
  • A checking account, a savings account, or an ATM card 
  • Public utility hook-ups (water, gas, electricity)
  • Telephone service

Although no business or agency should require proof of a Social Security number for services other than delivery of federal, state, or local assistance benefits, international scholars and dependents who do not have Social Security numbers may encounter the following challenges in the state of Indiana:

  • Many banks will not issue a credit or credit/debit card.
  • Many utility and telephone service companies will demand a deposit in lieu of presenting a valid Social Security number.
  • Other business owners may not render service claiming that they are not able to run a credit check without an SSN.

First determine whether you are eligible for a Social Security number according to the criteria outlined above.

Time Frame

Generally, it takes at least 48 hours after a J-1 Exchange Visitor's program is validated by the University in SEVIS before the Social Security Administration is able to verify non-immigrant status through the Department of Homeland Security. Therefore, J-1 Exchange Visitors should wait at least 48 hours from the time you complete your initial J-1 validation with ISSA before you apply for a Social Security number.  

Social Security Number (SSN) Application Instructions for J-1 Exchange Visitors (Scholars)

Step One: Complete check-in with ISSA.  

Step Two: Print off your appointment letter.

Step Three: Complete and print the SSN Application.

Step Five: Apply for SSN in person at the Social Security Administration (SSA) office, 602 S Michigan St in South Bend. To get to the Social Security Administration office, take bus #7 from the Library Circle to the South Street Station. The office is across the street from the bus station. Bring your appointment letter (letter from Notre Dame inviting to the university), your completed application and the following documents:

  • Passport
  • Visa (except for citizens of Canada and Bermuda)
  • Copy of I-94 record. (If you arrived via a land port of entry, bring your paper I-94 Card.)
  • Form DS-2019

Note: There is no cost to apply for a Social Security Number.

Step Six: Wait for SSN card to arrive by mail from the Social Security Administration.

Step Seven: Report SSN to Notre Dame by taking your SSN card and NDid to Registrar’s Office, 300 Grace Hall.

Obtaining a Letter of Social Security Number Ineligibility Application Instructions

Step One: Complete check-in with ISSA.

Step Two: Complete and print the SSN Application.

Step Three: Apply for SSN in person at the Social Security Administration (SSA) office, 602 S Michigan St in South Bend. To get to the Social Security Administration office, take bus #7 from the Library Circle to the South Street Station. The office is across the street from the bus station. Bring your appointment letter, your completed application and the following documents:

  • Passport
  • Visa (except for citizens of Canada and Bermuda)
  • Copy of I-94 record (If you arrived via a land port of entry, bring your paper I-94 Card.)
  • Form DS-2019

Step Four: Your Letter of SSN Ineligibility may be given to you immediately, or you may need to wait for the letter to arrive by mail from the Social Security Administration.

Working on Campus before Receiving a Social Security Number

A J-1 Exchange Visitor may begin a term of employment without a Social Security number, but must apply for one and inform the University immediately after obtaining one.

When filling out the required W-4 form, write on the line that reads SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER “applied for” and attach to your document the ndID number issued by the University. As soon as you have received your Social Security number, you must present your Social Security card to the office identified in the steps above.

Questions?

Additional information about obtaining a Social Security Number or a Letter of Social Security number Ineligibility can be found on the Social Security Administration website. You may also call the local Social Security Administration Office at 877.274.5415.

Please notify ISSA at 574-631-1138 or issa@nd.edu if you encounter any difficulties while applying for either a Social Security Number or a Letter of Social Security Number Ineligibility.