Obtaining a Social Security Number

The U.S. Government issues Social Security numbers to track an individual’s earnings over a lifetime. International students who are offered employment in the U.S. must apply for a Social Security number.

F-1 Visa holders and Social Security numbers

As of October 12, 2004, if you are not working, you cannot get a Social Security Number (SSN). We realize this is an inconvenience, since many banks, companies and rental offices ask for an SSN. If you are denied services because you do not have a SSN, international student services may be able to help. We can provide a letter to the company explaining the new regulations. 

You may be required to apply for a Social Security Number if you:

  1. Are offered a job on campus.
  2. Have been approved for off-campus employment based on severe economic hardship.
  3. Have been approved for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
  4. Are enrolled in Curricular Practical Training (CPT).
You should apply for a Social Security Number as soon as you are offered a position of employment.

How do I apply for a Social Security Number?

To apply for a Social Security Number, please come to the international student services office, so that we can help you collect the documents you need. You will need to complete an application and submit the following to the Social Security Administration:

  1. A letter from international student services stating that you are a student authorized to work on campus and that you are enrolled in a full course of study.
  2. Proof of work or work eligibility
    1. For on-campus employment: A letter from your supervisor that verifies you have secured employment and details the nature of the job. Forms are available in the International Student Services office.
    2. For Curricular Practical Training (CPT), an I-20 with the work authorized by the international student counselor.
    3. For Optional Practical Training (OPT), an Employment Authorization Document (EAD); or
    4. For off-campus work based on economic hardship: authorization from USCIS.
  3. Your I-94 card
  4. Your passport
  5. Your current Form I-20 and any previous I-20s you may have.

Where should I apply for a Social Security number?

There are a number of Social Security Administration (SSA) offices in the area. Call 1.800.772.1213 or visit http://www.ssa.gov to find the office closest to you.

When will I receive my Social Security Number?

In most cases, an F-1 student will be assigned a SSN three to five weeks after the application has been received. You may be able to learn your number before you actually receive your card by returning to the office where you applied and presenting the receipt the Social Security Administration (SSA) gave you.