International faculty and staff employed by the UW must apply for a Social Security number (SSN). Salary may be withheld until the number is issued.The Social Security Administration recommends that applicants wait at least 10 days after entering the US before applying for the SSN. Also note that J-1 Exchange Visitors must attend check-in at ISO prior to applying for a SSN.

To obtain a SSN, the applicant must visit the local Social Security Administration Office and present the following documents:

  • J-1 scholars: Form DS-2019 (showing in item 4 an exchange visitor category of Research Scholar or Short-Term Scholar or Professor), I-94 card and passport. J-1 scholars who are not employed by the UW may apply for a SSN but are not required to do so.
  • J-1 participants in the UW VISIT and VISER programs (Student Intern or Student Non-Degree in item 4 of the Form DS-2019) are ineligible for a SSN. If receiving a UW stipend they may apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN).
  • J-2 dependents: Form DS-2019, EAD card, I-94 card and passport
  • H-1B temporary workers: employment offer letter from the sponsoring department, Form I-797 “Approval Notice,” I-94 card and passport
  • TN employees: employment offer letter from the sponsoring department, Form I-797 (if any), I-94 card and passport
  • E-3 employees: employment offer letter from the sponsoring department, Form I-797 (if any), I-94 card and passport

The SSN is used to track earnings over a worker’s lifetime. A SSN is not required to obtain a driver’s license, cell phone, insurance, or other “non-work” reason.

Additional Resources

The Social Security Administration Office nearest the UW is at 915 2nd Ave., Suite 901. An easy way to get there is by Seattle Metro Bus.