Social Security Numbers (SSN) generally are assigned to people who are authorized to work in the United States. Social Security numbers are used to report your wages to the government and to determine eligibility for Social Security benefits.
F-1 international students who have work authorization from our office will require a Social Security number before they can be employed on-campus and may need to have a Social Security number before being offered employment off-campus. Students who previously have received a Social Security number do not need to reapply for one.
In order to be issued a Social Security number, the Social Security Administration requires evidence that you are eligible to work in the U.S., that you are a full-time student, and that you have received a formal offer of on-campus employment, or have been authorized for off-campus employment through Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT). Social Security numbers are generally not required for non-work reasons, for example to obtain a driver’s license, purchase health insurance, or to apply for cell phone service.
The Social Security Administration must also verify your immigration documents and status with Immigration before issuing the Social Security number. Please take special note that new students may not apply for a Social Security number earlier than 10 business days after arriving in the U.S. New F-1 students also must wait a minimum of two business days after being registered in SEVIS before they are eligible to apply.
SSN Application Procedure for On-Campus Employment
- Ensure that you are currently enrolled full-time (minimum of 12 units) and are currently maintaining your status as described in the Maintaining Status page
- Have your address and phone number up-to-date with our office
- Confirm with a DSO that your status in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is active. If you have just arrived in the U.S. and are not yet registered in 12 units, your SEVIS record will not be active until you complete registration
- Have received an employment offer letter for a job on-campus
- Be in the process of completing your Student Hiring Eligibility Process (SHEP) which includes getting a TB test
Once you meet the above criteria, you will need your original offer of employment letter to complete the online Letter Request Form and selected the “Social Security Number (SSN) Letter” option. Please allow the OIP a minimum of 2-3 days to process your letter request.
Once you receive the SSN Letter from our office, take all letters, your I-20, passport, and I-94 to your nearest Social Security Administration office to apply for a Social Security number in person. Bay Area Social Security Administration office locations and information is available to the right.
SSN Application Procedure for Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Note: Students are ineligible to apply for a Social Security Number more than 30 days before the start of their employment authorization.
Once you have been approved for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), take your newly endorsed I-20 that you received from our office with your valid passport and I-94 to one of the Bay Area Social Security Administration offices (locations and information available to the right).
SSN Application Procedure for Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Students are able to apply for a Social Security number with their OPT Application when filling out the USCIS Form I-765 (no need to visit the Social Security Administration Office). If students already possess a Social Security number, no application is needed.