Social Security and Tax ID Number Information

Social Security Numbers (SSN)

Non-residents who receive employment income in the United States are eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN). You must start the application process for your card upon your arrival into the U.S., but if you receive a paper I-94 you must wait 10 days to apply.  The card will generally be issued to you within two weeks.  Faculty, researchers, graduate assistants, and fellowship recipients may receive payments for up to 30 days without providing their SSN.

Non-residents being hired as a temporary employee (hourly/Kronos employee) or through a Special Pay cannot begin their services for the University until they receive their Social Security Number.  Social Security Administration’s policy allows individuals to apply for the number up to 30 days before the start of services, which allows you to receive the number before you start services for Northwestern. 

Individuals will need the following:

  • Social Security Card application 
  • An employment letter from your hiring department, if you are in J or F student status.  Non-students can use their NU issued offer letter. 
  • F-1 & J-1 students need a letter from the International Office that states you are eligible for the Social Security number.  Click on these links to request your letters F-1 students/ J-1 students.
  • Your ORIGINAL, unexpired passport, I-94 card (white card stapled inside your passport), and your immigration documentation (I-20, DS-2019, or I-797, and/or EAD)

The closest Social Security offices are located at 2116 Green Bay Road in Evanston and 77 W. Jackson Blvd, Suite 300 in Chicago. Additional offices can be found on the Social Security website. Their office hours are Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Additional information can also be found on the International Office website.

Once an employee receives the card, they must bring it to the Payroll Office, where we will open your Form I-9 for it to be added. 

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

Nonresidents who will receive stipends from a scholarship or fellowship, but will not be employed in any other way such as a graduate assistantship or temporary employment, will not be eligible for a SSN and must instead apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.  Applications can often be completed with the University as part of the on-boarding FNIS process. If we are unable to assist you in applying, you will apply for your number using Form W-7 when you file your U.S. tax return. 

If you later become eligible for a Social Security Number, because of employment such as a assistantships or temporary employment, you must apply for a SSN and cancel your ITIN.

You must notify the IRS in writing that you have obtained your Social Security Number (SSN).

  1. The letter must state that you have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and now also have a SSN and you will discontinue use of the ITIN.
  2. It must include your legal name, current street address, city, state, zip, previously assigned ITIN, new SSN, the current date, and signature.
  3. Mail this letter to:
    Internal Revenue Service
    ITIN Operation
    P.O. Box 149342
    Austin , TX 78714-7342