To be employed in the United States, you must have a U.S. Social Security number. This number is issued by the U.S. Social Security Administration. You must submit an application to the local Social Security Office to receive this number.

How to apply for a Social Security Number

Go in person to the nearest Social Security Office. (These instructions refer to the office located in Tacoma, Washington, since it is the closest Social Security Office to the university, but you may apply at any Social Security office in the U.S.) You cannot apply for a Social Security Card by mail.

You must present the following documents:

  • application for a social security card
  • your valid passport
  • your Form I-94 (Record of Arrival and Departure)
  • DS-2019
  • letter of invitation from the Academic Dean
  • a letter from the International Programs Office verifying your eligibility for a Social Security Number

Instructions for Completing the Social Security Application Form

It is imperative that you wait at least eleven days after entering the United States before you request a Social Security number. This waiting period will give the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services sufficient time to enter your arrival data into their computer system. The Social Security Administration is required to match your data with your arrival information entered by the USCIS. Applying for your card before this time could result in further delays. Make sure you provide a correct address when applying.

Follow the instructions on the application form. Note the following exceptions:

If you are a scholar, faculty or staff member, you may use your local mailing address, your department address, or the International Programs address.

In part 3, "Citizenship," check the box marked "Legal Alien Allowed to Work". (Note: Neither eligibility for a social security number nor possession of a social security card gives you actual authorization to work. International scholars, should consult with International Programs if they are considering accepting any additional employment. It is a serious violation of your visa status to work in the U.S. without the proper employment authorization and could cause the revocation of your visa.)

It will take approximately 2-3 weeks for your Social Security Card to arrive.

Directions to the Social Security Office in Tacoma, Washington

2608 S. 47th, Tacoma, 98409 WA
Hours: Mon - Fri from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

By Bus

Take bus #51 (N. Union Avenue) which goes to the Tacoma Mall. Get off the bus at the Tacoma Mall Transit Station (the last stop). From there walk northwest towards towards 47th Street. The office is on the corner of Oakes and S.47th behind the 7-11 store. It is a brick building with blue trim.

By Car

Take Alder (which eventually becomes Pine Street) all the way to S. 47th. Turn left and the Social Security Office will be on your right, next to the 7-11 store. It is a brick building with blue trim.