You may find yourself in need of a social security number when you sign up for classes, get your driver’s license or open a bank account. You should wait at least one week, maybe even two weeks, to allow the INS to process your paperwork and activate your information in the computer system used by the Social Security office. Be patient during this time, and make sure you gather the paperwork you will need.
First, print out your application for a social security number and complete the form. Find out which Social Security office is closest to you to plan your trip, whether you are driving there or your host family will take you.
Second, gather the rest of your paperwork, which should be together in your bedroom in a safe place. You will need the following items:
1) your Passport
2) your J-1 Visa
3) your I-94 Card
4) your SEVIS DS-2019
Bring these along with your printed and completed application for a Social Security number to the nearest Social Security office. If you are unfortunate enough to be helped by a teller who is unfamiliar with the Au Pair Program and its regulations, or the fact that you are entitled to a Social Security number, please stay calm and ask them to check with their supervisor or get one for you to meet. In case you need exact proof, all the details are in the Social Security Administration policy manual (POM) section RM 00203.480.C.1. in case you need to advocate for yourself.
It will usually take the office 2-4 weeks to process your paperwork and mail your Social Security card to your Host Family address. When you receive your card, keep it in the same safe place in your room with your other important paperwork. A Social Security card is not usually kept in your purse or wallet, as it is not a picture ID and has your own identifying number on it.
For answers to other questions you may have about being an Au Pair or Host Family, contact me, Joan Lowell, your Go Au Pair Local Area Representative in the Providence, RI area. I can be reached at 401.309.1925 or firstname.lastname@example.org anytime.