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Applying for a Social Security Number

SSN Application Process Overview

Applications must be submitted to the Social Security Administration (SSA) in person. An agent will review your immigration documents and enter your information into the database to confirm valid entry to the United States and eligibility for the SSN.

You will be given a receipt with the date and location of your application. Most applications are usually processed within two to six weeks, and the SSN card will be mailed to you.

Please notify the International Services Office (ISO) if your application is pending longer than six weeks.

When to Apply

The Social Security Administration must verify that all non-immigrant applicants have legal status in the United States and are eligible for the SSN.

Individuals in F-1 or J-1 status should wait to apply at least one week after entry to the United States and completion of immigration check-in at ISO. This allows time for the US Port of Entry and SEVIS databases to accurately record your arrival. If you apply earlier, there could be delays in processing your SSN application.

SSA accepts applications Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Wednesdays when the office closes at 12 p.m. (the SSA also closes for national holidays).

Applications are processed on a walk-in basis. The application process takes minutes, but the wait for an available representative can sometimes take a few hours, depending on office traffic. Typically, morning hours and days other than Monday or Friday are less busy.

What to Bring

The following documents are required when you apply.

SSN Application: Form SS-5 (PDF)

  • Print your NAME (#1) as it is listed on your current I-94 record.
  • For CITIZENSHIP (#5), mark the box for "Legal Alien Allowed to Work."
  • Use a MAILING ADDRESS (#16) where you can receive your card securely (government mail cannot be forwarded by the post office).

Original Immigration Documents

  • Unexpired passport
  • I-94 record
  • Additional immigration documents for your status, as appropriate (e.g., F-1 I-20, J-1 DS-2019, H-1B Approval Notice, etc.)

Additional Documentation for F-1 and J-1 Students

 F-1 and J-1 students applying for a SSN require additional documents.

Where to Go

There are two offices of the US Social Security Administration in the Rochester area:

Downtown Rochester location:
200 East Main Street, 2nd Floor
Rochester, NY 14604

Greece location:
4050 West Ridge Road
2nd Floor
Rochester, NY 14626

National Toll-Free Telephone: +1 800-772-1213

Directions to Downtown SSA Office (map)

By Car

Exit River Campus from Wilson Boulevard, taking a left onto Elmwood Avenue. Turn left onto Mt. Hope Avenue (NY-15). After several blocks, Mt. Hope bends right and becomes Byron Street. Turn left onto S. Clinton Avenue. Turn right onto Court Street (NY-31E). Take a left onto Chestnut Street (NY-31). Parking is available at street meters, paid lots, and several downtown area parking garages.

By University Shuttle

Take the Red Line from River Campus and to the Eastman Living Center, on Gibbs Street downtown. Walk to Main Street, turn right and continue one block north to Chestnut Street. Turn left on Chestnut and walk several blocks to HSBC Plaza (between Broad and Court Streets). The building will be on the left-hand side.

By RTS Bus

Take the #18 – University bus (westbound) from River Campus to Main and Clinton. Walk one block south on Clinton Avenue to Broad Street. Turn left on Broad and continue one block to Chestnut Street. Turn right and HSBC Plaza is between Broad and Court Streets, on the far side of the street.