Applying for a Social Security Number
A Social Security Number (SSN) is a nine-digit number assigned to an individual to identify his/her record of earnings while employed in the U.S. Through this number the employer will make contributions to the employee's Social Security accounts which provide for future retirement and disability benefits. The SSN is also used to track wages and report taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. Having a SSN will make many official procedures easier and faster such as: open bank accounts, getting a drivers license, getting an on-campus employment, etc. All individuals who will legally be working in the U.S. must obtain a Social Security Number if they will work. However not all these visa types are exempt from paying taxes.
F-1 students must establish that they either are approved for curricular practical training, optional practical training or have secured an on-campus job before being eligible to apply for a SSN.
How to apply for a Social Security Number
Applications for an SSN must be submitted in person to the Social Security Office. If you need an interpreter, you may arrange for one by either calling the Social Security Office's toll free number: 1-800-772 -213 between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. eastern time or by going to the Social Security Administration interpreter webpage.
Find a convenient Social Security Office
You may submit your application at any Social Security office that is convenient to you. To find the office closest to you, please go to the Social Security Administration Office Locator.
Collect the Following documents
There is no fee for applying for an SSN. However, you must present original documents to establish your identity, immigration status, eligibility to work in the U.S. and your address. Notarized photocopies are not accepted and the originals will be returned to you once they are reviewed by the interviewer.
You should bring the following documents with you:
- A birth certificate or a passport to prove your age and identity.
- If in F or J status: I-20 or DS-2019 to prove immigrations status and work eligibility.
- F-1 status holders authorized for CPT must be sure to also present the third page of the I-20where CPT is authorized
- F-1 students authorized for OPT must present and unexpired EAD
- F-1 students who will engage in on-campus employment must also present either a pay stub or a combined letter from the hiring department and OIP confirming the offer of the job Please note this must be printed on the letterhead of the hiring department.