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Social Security Numbers (SSN) and Drivers' Licenses

Information for international students who need to acquire a social security number (SSN) or a New York State driver's license or identification card.

Social Security Number (SSN)

A Social Security number is a taxpayer identification number issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA).  A Social Security Number is intended to accurately record your earnings in the United States.

Application Process Important note: All new students have to wait at least two weeks after their arrival in the United States to apply for a Social Security Number. You must check-in with OISS and OISS must register you in SEVIS before you can submit an application to the SSA.
  1. Fill out an I-9 form with the financial aid office. Bring your passport and visa with you. The financial aid office is located in G-10 James B. Colgate Hall, one floor below the admission office.

  2. Search for, apply for, and obtain a job on campus. To find a job, visit Most on-campus jobs are posted on the portal.

  3. Sign up for a trip to the SSA office in Utica and request an employment letter by taking this survey at least one week prior to the scheduled trip. The Office of Financial Aid will issue an employment letter and send it to OISS for our signature. Pick up the letter from OISS prior to visiting the SSA.

    You must to have a job or a job offer to apply for a Social Security card.

  4. Fill out the Social Security card application form SS-5 (For question 5, you should mark "Legal Alien Allowed To Work", and leave 9b and 10b blank unless your parents have Social Security Numbers.)

  5. Bring your employment letter, Social Security application, passport, visa (not applicable to Canadians), Form I-20, I-94*, and Colgate ID to the Social Security Office.

  6. *If you entered the U.S. through an airport, you will not have a paper I-94 stapled in your passport. Instead, you need to visit, enter your information, and print a copy of your electronic I-94. If you entered through a land crossing, you should have a paper I-94 stapled in your passport.

  7. Make sure the Social Security Office provides you with a receipt of application. Your Social Security card should arrive in 3-6 weeks, but if it does not, it will be much easier to track with the receipt.

  8. Be sure to check your mail often when waiting for your card. This is a very important document that is yours forever. Sign the card as soon as you receive it and keep track of your card and number at all times!

  9. Once you receive your Social Security card, please contact the Payroll Office at 315-228-7803 or to request a meeting with Ms. Patti Blinebry. When you meet with Ms. Blinebry you’ll need to bring your passport, visa, I-20, I-94, and Social Security card. Either immediately before or after you meet with Ms. Blinebry, you’ll also need to visit the Office of Financial Aid to give them your Social Security number.
At Colgate, you may start working on campus without a Social Security card as long as you have completed an I-9 form. However, you cannot be paid until you receive a Social Security card and complete all the above steps.

As a reminder, you are not permitted to work off campus without authorization from the Office of International Students Services and U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services. Working off-campus without authorization is a violation of F-1 visa status.

Social Security Website
For complete information regarding the Social Security Administration and its processes and requirements, please visit the Social Security website.

Driver's License and New York State Photo ID

If you want to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain a learner’s permit (the first step in getting your driver’s license) or photo ID, you must have either a Social Security number (see above) or a letter of ineligibility to apply.

How to Apply
You should complete the MV-44 form. (The form is also available in Spanish, Chinese, and Bengali at You must present 6 points of identity. For most students this will be:
  • Passport
  • Visa (except for Canadian citizens)
  • I-94
  • I-20 (bring all old I-20s as well)
  • Social Security card or denial letter from the Social Security Administration
  • Colgate ID. 
All documents must be original and not photocopies. See this complete list of all acceptable documents.

To obtain your learner's permit, you must first pass a written test.  Before taking the test, you should review the study guide and other details. The test should take approximately 30 minutes, depending on your speed.

It is important that you bring all of your documents with you, along with the fully completed MV-44 form. The wait time at the DMV can be very lengthy, and if you do not have the necessary documents or the form completed, they will send you away.

Driving School information

There are several driving schools in the area.

Copper City Driving School
Ms. Nancy Viscosi
Phone: 315-337-6259
Copper City Driving School may able to make an arrangement to come to Colgate to provide lessons. Contact Ms. Viscosi for details.

Oneida Driving School
215 Driftwood Dr., Oneida, NY 13421
Phone: 315-363-8733

Gigliotti's Utica Driving School
9396 Roberts Rd., Sauquoit, NY 13456
Phone: 315-737-5049

The driving school information on this page is intended for general informational purposes only.  OISS is not responsible for the individual communication with these schools nor quality of the services they provide.