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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 SSN is intended to accurately record your earnings in the U.S.

Application Process Important note: All new students have to wait at least 2 weeks after the arrival in the United States to apply for SSN. You must check-in with OISS and OISS must register you in SEVIS before you can submit application to SSA.
  1. Fill out I-9 form at Financial Aid office (bring passport and visa with you to G-10, J.B. Colgate Hall)

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

  3. Visit the OISS office in 103 Lathrop Hall or e-mail Makiko ( to sign up for a trip to Social Security office, if offered.

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

  5. 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 a US SSN)

  6. Please send an e-mail to the Financial Aid office ( at least a week in advance with the following information, so they can prepare an employment letter:
    • Your ID#
    • Job start date
    • Your job title
    • Department
    • Your immediate supervisor
    • Supervisor’s on-campus phone number
  7. The letter will be issued and sent to OISS for our signature. Pick up the employment letter from OISS prior to your visit to the SSA. 

  8. Bring the employment letter, Social Security application, passport, visa (not applicable to Canadians), Form I-20, I-94 card (white card stapled in your passport), and Colgate ID to the Social Security Office.

  9. 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 it with the receipt.

  10. 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!

  11. Once you receive your Social Security card, please contact the Payroll Office at 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 Social Security card as long as you have filled out I-9 form, however, you do not get paid till you receive a Social Security card and complete all the above steps.

As a reminder, you are not allowed 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 illegal.

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
  • 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.