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Obtaining a Social Security Number

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a nine-digit number assigned to individuals working in the United States. This number is used to track earnings by the employer and report wages for tax purposes to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

You will often be asked for an SSN for identification purposes. This is not the intended purpose of a SSN. When conducting official business in the U.S., such as opening a bank account or applying for a cellular phone, you will need two reliable forms of identification, such as your Passport and your Student ID card. You can ask Social Security for a letter to prove you cannot have a number if you are not eligible.

Sometimes students think that just having a Social Security number entitles them to work anywhere. IT DOES NOT!

If you are in a valid F-1 status, you may work on campus without separate immigration work authorization, but the Internal Revenue Service requires the University to have your Social Security Number in order to employ you in the U.S.


Eligibility:

All individuals who will be legally working in the U.S. must obtain a SSN if they intend to work.

As an F-1 visa holder, you must be maintaining your immigration status and you must also establish that you have an on-campus job offer, have been approved for Curricular Practical Training, or are eligible for Optional Practical Training.  A Designated School Official (DSO) at the International Student Services (ISS) office will help you with the application paperwork.

If you have entered the country as a new F-1 student, it is recommended that you wait a minimum of 10 business days before applying to the Social Security Administration (SSA) for a number to ensure that your immigration information can be obtained by SSA to process your number most expeditiously.


Steps To Obtain a Social Security Card:

Contact your Designated School Officer (DSO) to notify them that you need to apply for an SSN.

For On-Campus Employment:

  • If you have secured on-campus employment, the DSO will provide you with a  letter specifying your eligibility for on-campus employment.
  • You will also need a letter verifying the employment offer originated from the employment office (Center for Career Services) that states your job, your employment start date, the number of hours you will be working, and your supervisor’s name and telephone number. 
  • You will also need to pick up two documents from the Registrar’s Office:
    • A Copy of your Class Schedule
    • A Letter of Enrollment Verification
  • Go in person to one of the Social Security Offices in the area.
  • Bring the documents mentioned above plus:
    • Your I-20, Passport, Visa (if you have one), I-94, and another piece of picture identification (ex. Marymount ID Card)
  • Complete the SSN Application. The administrator will interview and ask you a few routine questions. They will also make copies of your immigration documents. Make sure that your I-20, Passport, and I-94 are returned to you before you leave the office.

  • The administrator will give you a receipt of proof that you have applied for the SSN.  You must show this receipt to Human Resources (HR) before you may begin employment on-campus.
  • Your Social Security Card will not be given to you immediately. It will be mailed to your address.  Once you have received your Social Security Card, you will need to show the Social Security Card to Human Resources if you are working on campus. 

For CPT:

  • You will need your I-20 with CPT authorization listed on your I-20 approved by a Designated School Official (DSO).
    • You can apply for a Social Security Number up to 30 days before your CPT Start Date.
  • You will also need to pick up two documents from the Registrar’s Office:
    • A Copy of your Class Schedule
    • A Letter of Enrollment Verification
  • Go in person to one of the Social Security Offices in the area.
  • Bring the documents mentioned above plus:
    • Your Passport, Visa (if you have one), I-94, and another piece of picture identification (ex. Marymount ID Card)
  • Complete the SSN Application. The administrator will interview and ask you a few routine questions. They will also make copies of your immigration documents. Make sure that your I-20, Passport, and I-94 are returned to you before you leave the office.

  • The administrator will give you a receipt of proof that you have applied for the SSN.  You must show this receipt to Human Resources (HR) before you may begin employment on-campus.
  • Your Social Security Card will not be given to you immediately. It will be mailed to your address.  Once you have received your Social Security Card, you will need to show the Social Security Card to Human Resources if you are working on campus. 

For OPT:

  • You will need your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Card.
    • You cannot apply for Social Security Number until the start date listed on your EAD Card.
  • Go in person to one of the Social Security Offices in the area.
  • Bring the documents mentioned above plus:
    • Your I-20, Passport, Visa (if you have one), I-94, and another piece of picture identification (ex. Marymount ID Card)
  • Complete the SSN Application. The administrator will interview and ask you a few routine questions. They will also make copies of your immigration documents. Make sure that your I-20, Passport, and I-94 are returned to you before you leave the office.

  • The administrator will give you a receipt of proof that you have applied for the SSN.  You must show this receipt to Human Resources (HR) before you may begin employment on-campus.
  • Your Social Security Card will not be given to you immediately. It will be mailed to your address.  Once you have received your Social Security Card, you will need to show the Social Security Card to Human Resources if you are working on campus. 
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