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How to Get a US Social Security Number for NCLEX Registration – A Step-by-Step Guide

As an international nurse looking to take the NCLEX exam and work in the United States, one of the crucial requirements is having a valid US Social Security Number (SSN).

The SSN is a nine-digit number issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and is used for various purposes, including employment, taxation, and government benefits.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the process of obtaining a US Social Security Number specifically for NCLEX registration.

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Understanding the Importance of a Social Security Number

How to Get a US Social Security Number for NCLEX Registration – A Step-by-Step Guide

The NCLEX, or National Council Licensure Examination, is a standardized exam that all nurses must pass to obtain a nursing license and practice in the United States.

To register for the NCLEX, you’ll need to provide a valid SSN, as it serves as a unique identifier for tracking your exam results and licensing status.

Without a Social Security Number, you won’t be able to complete the NCLEX registration process or receive your nursing license, which is a mandatory requirement for employment as a nurse in the US.

Eligibility Criteria for Obtaining a Social Security Number

Before diving into the application process, it’s essential to understand the eligibility criteria for obtaining a US Social Security Number. Generally, you must meet one of the following conditions:

  1. US Citizen: If you’re a US citizen, you’re automatically eligible for a Social Security Number.
  2. Lawful Permanent Resident: If you have a Green Card or are a lawful permanent resident of the United States, you’re eligible to apply for an SSN.
  3. Non-Immigrant Worker: If you’re in the US on a valid non-immigrant work visa, such as an H-1B, TN, or E-3 visa, you may be eligible to apply for an SSN with the appropriate documentation.
  4. International Student: If you’re an international student studying in the US on an F-1 or M-1 visa and have on-campus employment or have been authorized for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT), you may be eligible to apply for an SSN.

It’s important to note that if you’re in the US on a temporary basis, such as a tourist or business visitor, you’re not eligible to apply for a Social Security Number.

Step 1: Gather the Required Documents

Before you can apply for a Social Security Number, you’ll need to gather the necessary documents. The specific documents required may vary depending on your immigration status and situation, but generally, you’ll need:

  • Proof of Age and Identity: This can include a birth certificate, passport, or other government-issued identification document.
  • Proof of Immigration Status: Depending on your immigration status, you’ll need to provide documents such as a Green Card, Employment Authorization Document (EAD), or a valid visa.
  • Proof of Work Eligibility: If you’re applying for an SSN based on employment, you’ll need to provide documentation from your employer, such as a job offer letter or employment contract.

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It’s crucial to have original or certified copies of these documents, as the Social Security Administration will not accept photocopies.

Step 2: Locate the Nearest Social Security Office

Once you have all the required documents, the next step is to locate the nearest Social Security office. You can find the closest office by visiting the Social Security Office Locator on the SSA website.

It’s recommended to schedule an appointment in advance, as walk-in service may not be available or may involve longer wait times. You can schedule an appointment by calling the SSA’s national toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 or by visiting the Social Security Administration’s website.

Step 3: Complete the Application Form

Before your appointment, you’ll need to complete the Social Security Number application form. You can obtain the form, known as the “Application for a Social Security Card” (Form SS-5), from the Social Security Administration’s website or at the local office.

Make sure to fill out the form accurately and completely, providing all the required information, such as your name, date of birth, place of birth, and immigration status. Double-check the information to avoid any errors or delays in processing your application.

Step 4: Attend the Social Security Office Appointment

On the day of your appointment, arrive at the Social Security office with all the required documents and your completed application form.

Be prepared to present your original documents and answer any additional questions the SSA representative may have.

During the appointment, the SSA representative will review your documents, verify your eligibility, and process your application. They may also take your fingerprints and photograph for identification purposes.

Step 5: Wait for Your Social Security Card

After your appointment, the Social Security Administration will process your application and issue you a Social Security card. The processing time can vary, but it typically takes between two to four weeks to receive your card in the mail.

It’s important to note that the SSA will not issue a Social Security Number on the spot during your appointment. You’ll receive a receipt or letter confirming that your application has been processed, and your Social Security card will be mailed to the address you provided on the application form.

Step 6: Use Your Social Security Number for NCLEX Registration

Once you’ve received your Social Security card, you can proceed with the NCLEX registration process. The NCLEX registration requires you to provide your valid Social Security Number, along with other personal and educational information.

You can register for the NCLEX through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) website or through your state’s nursing board. Follow the instructions provided and ensure that you enter your Social Security Number accurately during the registration process.

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Additional Tips and Considerations

  • Timing is crucial: It’s recommended to apply for your Social Security Number well in advance of your planned NCLEX registration date to allow sufficient time for processing and receiving your card.
  • Keep your documents safe: Protect your Social Security card and other important documents from loss or theft, as they contain sensitive personal information.
  • Update your information: If you change your name, address, or immigration status, be sure to update your information with the Social Security Administration to ensure accurate records.
  • Beware of scams: The Social Security Administration will never call or email you requesting personal information or payment. Be cautious of any unsolicited requests for your Social Security Number or personal details.


Obtaining a US Social Security Number is a crucial step for international nurses seeking to take the NCLEX exam and work in the United States. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article, you’ll be well-prepared to navigate the application process and meet the requirements for NCLEX registration.

Remember to gather the necessary documents, locate the nearest Social Security office, complete the application form accurately, attend your appointment, and wait for your Social Security card to arrive.

With a valid Social Security Number in hand, you’ll be one step closer to achieving your goal of becoming a licensed nurse in the US.

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