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Social Security Number


How do I obtain a Social Security Number?

You will need to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) by visiting your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office. You should check with your department administrator or Human Resources contact for additional information about this process. Most likely you will receive a Social Security card that has the notation, “VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH DHS AUTHORIZATION.” SSA issues this type of card to people lawfully admitted to the United States on a temporary basis who have authorization to work by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Your card should arrive 2-6 weeks after you apply.

When should I go to the SSA office?


SSA must verify your immigration status with the DHS database. It takes one day for the two federal databases to communicate the correct information about your immigration status. Therefore, OIS strongly recommends waiting at least 24 hours from time of entry into the US before applying for your SSN.

Where is the SSA office?

From SSB, walk 4 blocks north to Adams St., turn left onto Adams (going west.) 1233 will be on the left-hand (south-west side) of the street, between Racine and Throop.


815 W. Pioneer Parkway
Peoria, IL  61615
Phone: 1-877-319-6039


502 E. Jefferson Street
Rockford, IL  61107
Phone: 1-877-628-6570

What should I take to the SSA office?

  1. Your passport
  2. Your Form DS-2019 if in J-1 status, or Form I-20 if in F-1 status
  3. Your Form I-797 if in H-1B, TN, or O-1 status
  4. Your EAD card if in J-2, F-1/OPT, or pending Permanent Residency
  5. Your I-94 card (the small white card attached to your passport) OR electronic printout from
  6. Letter of job offer addressed to student from  employer/department
  7. Letter from OIS if you are in F-1 or J-1 status (request this letter from OIS in advance.) F and J students must be enrolled full-time prior to requesting the OIS letter.

How do I request a SSA letter from OIS?

You may stop by OIS to complete a Student Request Form. The SSN letter will be ready in (3-5) business days for pick-up.

Do I need a SSN to open a bank account?

U.S. financial institutions are required to verify the identity of every individual who opens a bank account. In compliance with federal regulations, all banks operating in the U.S. have established Customer Identification Programs (CIP) that they are to follow for anyone who seeks to open an account. While the specifics of the CIP may vary from one bank to another, Department of Treasury regulations found at 31 CFR § 103.121 set forth the following minimal information that the banks must obtain from you before allowing you to open an account:

  1. Your name
  2. Your date of birth
  3. Your street address – no P.O. Box
  4. An identification number

The regulations 31 CFR § 103.121(b)(i)A)(4)(ii) clarify that for a non-U.S. person the identification number shall be one or more of the following:

  • taxpayer identification number (ITIN)
  • passport number and country of issuance
  • alien identification card number
  • number and country of issuance of any other government-issued document evidencing nationality or residence and bearing a photograph or similar safeguard

It is important to remember that banks establish their own customer identification programs and may ask for additional documentation than is described above because they are ultimately responsible for establishing the identity of their customers.

Can I apply for an Illinois Driver’s License without a SSN?

A Social Security Number is not required to obtain a State of Illinois Drivers License. Internationals (F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, among others) in Illinois may obtain a Temporary Visitor Drivers License (TVDL) from various locations in the state. To apply, you will need to visit the Social Security Administration to request a letter stating that you are not eligible for an SSN, this is known as a Form L-676. If, however, you are eligible for a SSN, then you must apply for and receive the SSN before applying for a state driver’s license.

For more information, visit the Social Security Administration web site: