Immigration Advising

Social Security Number

The social security number is used for employment purposes in the United States in order to report wages to the government. The Social Security Administration will only issue a social security number for employment purposes only. If you have problems in establishing a bank account, renting an apartment, opening a cell phone account, please see an ISFO Advisor.

Applying for a Social Security Number

  1. You need to obtain a letter from your employer (from an ON-CAMPUS job only; you cannot work off-campus as an international student). The sample letter (which needs to be on a letterhead) is as follows: click here to see example.
  2. Bring this letter to our office, Williston Hall room 406 (815)753-1346 and express your interest in applying for a social security number. The secretary, Dawn, will then check your file and status to see if you are qualified for applying for a social security number. She will then write a letter in a similar format, stating your status and that you are a student attending Northern Illinois University. This letter takes about 2-3 business days to make since many students request it. You are welcome to stop by the office any time in the afternoon after 2-3 business days to see if the letter is ready. At this time, Dawn will also give you a Social Security application.

  3. You will need to gather the following paperwork ready:
  • Copy of your passport
  • Copy of your I-94
  • Copy of your I-20 or DS-2019
  • Copy of your student ID
  • Employment letter from your employer (originally copy only)
  • Letter from the International Student and Faculty Office (original copy only)

Once you have your paperwork ready, you will need to turn your application in to the nearest social security office. DeKalb does not have a social security office, and we advise all students to go to the Elgin Social Security Office

Elgin Office Information:

Address: 790 Fletcher Dr., Elgin IL 60123
Office Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Monday - Friday
Phone: (877) 405-0435

When you visit the office, you have to bring in the originals of the above-mentioned documents, but you do not submit them. The social security representative will want to see the originals, but then keep copies for their records. You should make copies of your documents in advance because the center does not have a copy machine available for use.

If you have any questions regarding filling out your social security application, the representative at the center can answer them.

Once You Have Your Social Security Number

The processing for a social security card takes anywhere from two weeks to a month. For safety reasons, all social security cards are mailed to our office at Williston Hall, room 406. You can call our office at any time (815)753-1346 or email Dawn at dgalbreath@niu.edu to ask if the card has come in after the processing time period.

The International Office automatically forwards your new social security number to the following departments:

  1. Registration and Records, Williston Hall, room 220
    (815)753-0681
  2. Payroll Office, Human Resource Building, Lincoln Highway
    (815)753-6000 if you are employed on campus
  3. Information Technology Services, Swen Parson Hall, room 120
    (815)753-8100 for campus electronic communication

PLEASE REMEBER, you will also need to report your new social security number to:

  1. Your local bank, such as TCF
  2. The OneCard ID office to update the magnetic strip on your student ID to reflect your new social security number

Since Registration and Records updates social security numbers only a few times a month, you cannot use your new number on-campus right away.When you pick-up your social security card (from the International Office), Dawn will give you a date when the number will activate at NIU. However, you can use the social security number right after you receive it for any off-campus matters.