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Social Security Number

As an international student, you must apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) in order to be paid wages in the US. You must have a job in order to obtain a SSN. You must not begin working before applying for your SSN!

Once you've got your job secured:

  • Fill out an Employment Evidence Form and have your supervisor sign it.
  • Email your Employment Evidence Form to and we will issue you a letter to accompany it, along with instructions about how to set up an appointment with the SSA.
  • If you are over 18 years old, you can complete your Social Security application online. Make sure to make note of your reference number when you submit!
  • Travel to the Social Security Administration office to apply for your Social Security Number. Bring your passport, visa, I-20, I-94, and your ISSO forms.  *More detailed instructions below!*
  • Once you have applied for your SSN, have your job supervisor hire you in Workday. This will kick off your Onboarding Process and will create new notifications in your Workday account.
  • Complete Onboarding inbox items in Workday. These include: Step 1 of Form I-9, Federal and State Withholding Forms (W-4, M-4), Payment Elections (Direct Deposit), and possibly an updated photo.
  • Complete Step 2 of Form I-9, which consists of setting up an appointment to show your identification documents to the Payroll Office. Now you can work!
  • When you receive your SSN card in the mail, report your SSN to the Payroll Office! If you used the ISSO's address, we will email you when your card is here to pick up.

Printer-friendly SSN instructions: 

Student SSN Instructions

If you are off campus and need a Social Security Number for an off-campus job, please contact the International Students & Scholars Office for assistance.

Applying for your Social Security Number

The nearest Social Security Administration branch is located at: 200 High Street, Holyoke, MA 01040

Branch Hours

Mon., Tues., Thurs., Fri: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Wednesday: 9 a.m.-noon

Closed on weekends and holidays.

Take the following documents with you to the Social Security Administration to apply:

  • Passport and I-20.
  • Print-out of your most recent I-94.
  • Employment Evidence Form.
  • Letter from the International Students & Scholars Office.
  • SS-5 form. If you’d like, you can enter in the ISSO address as your mailing address: 125 Wright Hall, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063. By doing so, you give us permission to receive your SSN card, open the document, and share your number with Smith’s Payroll Office.

Please expect to wait in line at the Social Security Administration for approximately one hour. Often the earlier you arrive, the shorter the line is. When you are finished, the SSA agent will give you a receipt to show that you have applied for a Social Security number. Your actual card with your SSN will arrive a few weeks later. Remember that your SSN is your financial identity in the US, so keep it safe and private. We recommend that you do not carry your SSN card in your wallet, but instead keep it in a secure place.

Bus Directions

Take the PVTA Blue 48 to Holyoke. Estimated ride time: 32 minutes

Get off at the bus depot at Veterans Park in the city of Holyoke. Walk 1 block to the corner of Dwight and High Street and turn left. The SSA Office will be on your right. When you are finished, return to the bus station and take the B48 bus back to Northampton. Please Note: You cannot use your OneCard to ride for free on the B48, so bus fare is $1.50 each way. Exact change is required. They will not make change for you on the bus. You may also purchase an all-day bus pass for $3.50.

U.S. Identification/Driver’s License

Many international students at Smith will choose to obtain a Massachusetts ID or Massachusetts driver's license during their time in Northampton.

In order to apply for either identification card, you will need to bring each of the following documents (plus applicable fees and application) to a nearby Registry of Motor Vehicles:

  • Proof of MA Residency: For on-campus students, the ISSO can provide a residency letter for you. Please fill out this form and we will contact you to let you know when it is ready to pick up at the Lewis Global Studies Center (allow 2-4 days). If you live off-campus, please refer to the Document Checklist provided by the RMV.
  • Proof of Lawful Presence and Birth Date: Passport, F-1 visa, I-20, and most recent I-94. Please refer to the Document Checklist provided by the RMV for more information about this requirement.
  • Proof of Signature: Passport (and most recent I-94), I-20, or Social Security card are most commonly used to prove signature. Please note: each document can only prove one thing!  Your passport cannot prove BOTH date of birth and signature.
  • Social Security Number (SSN) or Letter of Denial: If you have an SSN, you'll need to report the number. If not, you will need to visit the Social Security Administration and request a letter of denial (see Social Security information above) before applying for your Massachusetts identification. 

When you're ready to obtain a Massachusetts driver's license please consult the following resources:

**PLEASE NOTE: Due to changes in the Real ID Act, Massachusetts will not issue photo identification to anyone with visa paperwork showing a total length of stay lasting less than one calendar year. If your program start and end dates on your I-20 are less than one calendar year apart, and you need a Mass ID or license, please contact the ISSO.

Contact International Students and Scholars

125 Wright Hall

Smith College

Northampton, MA USA

Phone: 413-585-7598 Email:


Open office hours: Schedule a meeting with Dean Caitlin or with Claire Seely when it’s convenient for you!