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Social Security

social security

Social Security Eligbility

Generally, only noncitizens authorized to work in the United States by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can get a Social Security number. Social Security numbers are used to report a person’s wages to the government and to determine a person’s eligibility for Social Security benefits.

You need a Social Security number to work, collect Social Security benefits, and receive some other government services. Lawfully admitted noncitizens can get many benefits and services without a Social Security number. You don’t need a number to get a driver’s license, register for school, get private health insurance, or apply for school lunch programs or subsidized housing. 

Do I need a Social Security Number?

Before applying for a Social Security Number, you must fulfill the following criteria:

  • you have a job and
  • you have obtained work authorization from UC International Services. 
  • you have been in the U.S. for at least ten days before applying for the SSN to make sure your name appears in the U.S. entry/exit database.
  • you have completed orientation check-in and document check

If you are not planning on having a job, you may still need an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) to pay taxes. Please refer to our Filing Taxes page for questions about the ITIN.

Getting a Social Security Number

You can apply for a Social Security number by filling out a form and visiting the Social Security office downtown. Once you have completed your application, you will receive a social security card that has your number on it. Do not share this number with anyone. The full application process is outlined in the instructions below.

number 1

Make sure you are eligible for a Social Security number.

  • You have a job.
  • You have obtained work authorization from UC International Services. 
  • You have been in the U.S. for at least ten days before applying for the SSN.
  • You have completed orientation check-in.


number 2

Fill out the necessary paperwork.

Open the Social Security application link below and type in the information requested. There are instructions on the form that explain how to fill it out correctly. We recommend that you list your name exactly as it appears on your passport.


number 3

Go to the Social Security office.

The office is open Monday through Friday from 9am-4pm at the following address:

550 Main Street #2000
Cincinnati, OH 45202

We recommend that you go before 2:30pm so there is enough time to process your application. Make sure you bring the following items with you:

  • your passport
  • your visa
  • your printed 1-94 card
  • your DS-2019, I-20, or Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

Social Security & Medicare Tax Refund

Some students and scholars are exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes. This means that they can ask the government to not take the money out of their paycheck that contributes toward these social programs. In order to qualify for this exemption, you must fulfill the following criteria:

  • You hold an F-1 or J-1 visa.
  • You have been in the United States less than 5 calendar years.
  • You are considered a nonresident alien for tax purposes.
  • You work on-campus, off-campus with DHS permission, or are undergoing
    approved practical or academic training.

To claim an exemption from social security tax, you must provide verification of visa status and proof of work permission to the employer. This exemption also applies to any period in which the international student is in practical training allowed by the INS, as long as the international student is still a nonresident alien under tax code. Occasionally, Medicare Taxes are withheld in error. Nonresidents may not request a refund of Medicare Taxes on their annual income tax return (Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ).

Instructions for Filing a Refund Request

  1. Complete IRS Form 843 “Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement.”
  2. Attach copies of the Form W-2 for the year you are requesting the refund for, a copy of your Form I-94, and proof of permission to work (Employment Authorization Card or other written approval from ISSO).
  3. If you are a F or J Visa holder, you also need to complete Form 8316.
  4. Make a photocopy of all these documents and keep them with your other tax records.
  5. MAIL the documents with copies of your W-2 and I-94 card to the IRS service center where you would be required to file a current year tax return for the tax to which your claim or request relates.

This is not a fast process. Anyone who files these forms should wait at least 60 days before attempting to contact the IRS by phone to verify the status of the refund request. Be sure to put an address on Form 843 that will be accurate for the next 3-4 months.

The University of Cincinnati does not provide Medicare Tax refunds or a letter stating such. Instead, the University of Cincinnati has provided a completed 8316 Form that only requires the employee’s signature and telephone number.

Instructions for Form 843

Question 1 Indicate the dates that you were employed where Medicare Taxes were withheld. If you worked for more than one tax year, you will need to complete a Form 843 for each tax year.
Question 2 Write the amount of Medicare Taxes that were withheld.
Question 3 Place a check mark in the “Employment” box.
Question 4 LEAVE BLANK
Question 5 LEAVE BLANK
Question 6 Indicate the tax return on which the Medicare taxes were originally reported.
Question 7 Write “Medicare Tax Erroneously withheld by employer. See attached Forms 8316, W-2 and I-94.”
Signature Line Sign your name and put today’s date.

Instructions for Form 8316

Question A If Medicare Taxes were withheld from your paycheck and you meet the requirements described earlier, place an “X” in the “Yes” box.
Question 1-9 These have been filled out by the University of Cincinnati since the University of Cincinnati does not refund Medicare Taxes for prior years.
Signature Line Sign your name and put today’s date. Include a telephone number and the best time of day to be contacted by the IRS.