How To Apply For SSN International Student Easily 

SSN is the employee identification number known as the social security number, which is 9 digits in a number.

It is issued by US Social security Administration (SSA). To acquire this number is dependent on a person’s eligibility to work in the United States.

In other to be eligible for this (SSN) you must be a US citizen, have a permanent resident, and be a qualified foreign national that includes, a student in F-1 or J-1 student status and certain circumstances.

Application for social security number differs, if you are an F-1 or J-1 student and you desire to get a social security number, it also depends on your immigration status.

SSN is used to report an employee’s earnings or a student’s taxable scholarship benefits. It is also used for a variety of purposes.

In order to get a social security number (SSN) International student, will need a job. But that would not be a problem, working part-time on campus make you eligible.

Once you find a job, you will need to gather your document to verify your identity, immigration status, and work eligibility to the SSA for your SSN card to be obtained.

This article will explain in detail the information you need to acquire this SSN International student. What are the requirements to obtain SSN, and how can International students apply SSN?

What are the Requirements to Obtain SSN

Prove of identity

A valid passport is certainly a must document when you apply for an SSN as a foreigner.

In addition, in some circumstances, you may need to provide the following documents:

  • Permanent Resident Card; or
  • Employment Authorization Document a work permit) from the Department of Homeland Security; or
  • Arrival/Departure Record

See Also: How To Apply For A New Social Security Card

Prove your immigration status.

  • An F-1 or M-1 student must bring their I-20.
  • A J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor must bring their DS-2020.
  • They will also need one of the following documents to prove their immigration status:
  • Lawful Permanent Resident Card or Machine Readable Immigrant Visa; or
  • Employment Authorization Document; or
  • Arrival/Departure Record

Prove your work eligibility

As a foreign worker, you will need your valid foreign passport with one of the following documents:

  • Arrival/Departure Record; or
  • Employment Authorization Document or work permit

An F-1 student who is eligible to work on campus must have:

  • Unexpired I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status; and
  • Employment evidence such as a letter including:
  1. Your job title
  2. Your employment start date
  3. The number of hours you are or will be, working; and
  4. Your supervisor’s name and telephone number.

How Can International Students Apply for SSN?

To apply for an SSN, you are to apply in person at a Social Security Administration office.

The original documents prove your identity, immigration status, and work eligibility.

What is the SSN Application Procedure for f-1 Students?

Acquire evidence of employment and valid F-1 employment authorization. Before applying for an SSN, you must acquire first valid employment authorization.

Authorization may be established on one of the following. Make sure that you complete the eligibility requirements for F-1 student employment.

On-Campus Employment: 

  • Acquire a letter from a TC or Columbia department confirming that you have been given an on-campus job. The employment letter must be printed on department letterhead, signed in the original by your hiring department, and include the following information:
    • The job title (e.g., research assistant, library assistant, proofreader, etc.)
    • The estimated or actual start date
    • The estimated or actual number of hours per week you are expected to work
    • Your supervisor’s title and phone number

Curricular Practical Training

  • Acquire an updated Form I-20 from TC showing that you are authorized to engage in F-1 Curricular Practical Training (employment-based in an academic internship/fieldwork/practicum)

Optional Practical Training or other off-campus employment: 

  • Acquire a valid, unexpired Employment Authorization (EAD) card from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services authorizing you to work under F-1 optional practical training, international organization employment, or severe economic hardship employment.

See Also: How To Apply For Social Security Benefits At Age 62 In 2023

Submit a Request to the OIS for an SSN Letter. 

  • If you request Social Security Number established on on-campus employment, you must offer your TC or CU department letter to the OISS. The OISS will issue a second letter to ensure that you have secured on-campus employment and you are a full-time student in good standing.
  • An OISS letter is not necessary if your employment is on curricular practical training, optional practical training, international organization employment, or severe economic hardship employment.

Visit a Social Security Office (see below) to Apply for an SSN. 

Social Security forms are available at SSA offices. No fee is required. Some documents you will submit include; required.

  • Form I-20
  • Valid, unexpired passport
  • I-94 card or electronic I-94
  • An employment letter from your on-campus employer and the OIS. If you are working on campus.
  • If you are employed in CPT: your I-20 must have an authorization for CPT printed on page 3 of the form
  • Employed in OPT: you must bring your unexpired Employment Authorization (EAD) card.

As an f-1 j-1 Student, What are the SSA Eligibility Requirements for SSN

  1. Valid immigration documents, including a valid passport, valid I-20 or DS-2020, and an I-94 card or electronic I-94 notated “F-1 D/S” or “J-1 D/S.”
  2. Full-time registration at Teachers College
  3. F-1 students must provide evidence of lawful F-1 employment like an on-campus job or authorization for curricular practical training (CPT) or optional practical training (OPT). An F-1 status who does not have lawful F-1 employment is ineligible to apply for an SSN. This comprises applications for replacement SSN cards.
  4. J-1 students will show evidence of employment and it must be invalid J-1 status and be registered for a full course of study. (J-1 students under the sponsorship of an external organization such as IIE, LASPAU, or AMIDEAST should acquire a Social Security letter from their sponsor).

How Long Does it Take to Get an SSN for an International Student?

After verifying and approving your application by the SSA, your social security number card which contains a 9-digit number will be mailed to the address on file within 2 – 4 weeks.

If you receive the social security card, you have to observe an annotation on the card stating “Valid for Work Only with DHS Authorization

See Also: How To Get A Replacement Social Security Card

Does International Student SSN expire?

The SSN issued to international students doesn’t expire.

The annotation “Valid for Work Only with DHS Authorization” could be removed from the SSN card once an international student changes to permanent resident status.

What is the Benefit of SSNs for International Students?

  1. Receive income and pay taxes on a job
  2. File a tax return during tax season
  3. Receive government benefits, when meeting some criteria
  4. Apply for a driver’s or a state ID in some states
  5. Open financial accounts, such as credit card accounts, and online banking accounts
  6. Apply for loans like student loans, or car loans
  7. Perform a background check when renting an apartment

Do I Have to Wait for my SSN Before Starting Work

To answer, no. You can start work while your application is processed since you have authorization for on-campus work, CPT, or OPT, but your employer must guarantee that they follow the correct procedures when doing so.

SSN application procedure for j-1 students.

1) Request SSN letter. 

  1. A J-1 student who is under TC’s J-1 exchange visitors program sponsorship can request for Social Security Number based on on-campus employment, TC, CU, or other affiliate department letter must be submitted to the OISS. The OISS will issue a second letter that will confirm that you have secured on-campus employment and you are a full-time student in good standing.
  • You will have evidence of authorized on-campus or authorized off-campus employment, to apply for an SSN also required to apply for an SSN if you have valid J-1 employment, including on-campus employment, unforeseen economic hardship employment, or J-1 Academic Training
  • If you are sponsored by an external organization such as IIE, LASPAU, or AMIDEAST, you must obtain a Social Security authorization letter from your sponsor in addition to the OIS’s letter.

See Also: How Many Colleges Should I Apply To In 2023

2)Visit a Social Security Office to apply for an SSN. 

Social Security application forms are available at all Social Security offices. No fee is required. Only your:

  • Form DS-2019
  • Valid, unexpired passport
  • I-94 card or electronic I-94
  • Letter from the OIS (and your external J-1 sponsor, if applicable).


Once your application is submitted, it will be reviewed by the SSA examiners. Immediately, if verified and approved, you may expect to receive your SSN within 2-4 weeks as the processing time varies.



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