Social Security Numbers are issued for work purposes only, and are
generally 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.
Who is eligible for a social security number (SSN)?
The Social Security Administration holds the view that a Social Security Number should be issued only for employment purposes.
F-1 students are eligible for a Social Security Number only if one of the following applies:
- They are currently employed on campus or have a job offer. For on campus employment:-
Students need two (2) letters: A letter from the on-campus employer
addressed to the Social Security Administration (a sample letter is
available here), and a letter issued by the IEEEC confirming F-1
- They have been issued an Employment Authorization Document /EAD by the USCIS (United State Citizenship and Immigration Services)
- They have an I-20 endorsed for Curricular Practical Training.
How do I apply for a Social Security number?
In general, only non-citizens who have permission to work from
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can apply for a Social Security
number. To apply for a Social Security number:
F-1 students must submit in person to the Social Security
administration (SSA) the following documents in order to be considered
for a Social Security Number:
- A completed Form SS-5: Application for a Social Security Card
- At least two documents that establish your age, identity and alien status:
- Passport that has been issued at least one year prior to the date
that you apply for the SSN. If it has not, your birth certificate may
also be required or your previous passport.
- I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 student status).
- A current I-94 card, also known as the "arrival / departure
card." (This I-94 card should be stamped with the correct notation "F-1
- Evidence of SSN eligibility, which must be one of the following:
EAD, I-20 showing unexpired CPT endorsement, or a letter from the
on-campus employer addressed to the Social Security Administration and
a letter issued by the IEEEC confirming your F-1 student status.
I have a social security number but have lost my card. How do I get a replacement?
If you lose your Social Security Card and wish to obtain a
replacement you have to follow the process as if you were a first time
applicant, i.e. you will need to show evidence of employment even if
you originally obtained your SSN without having employment.
You can replace your card for free if it is lost (or stolen) by visiting the local Social Security Administration office.
You will need to:
- Complete an Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5);
- Present a recently issued document to show your identity (passport).
- Show evidence of your current immigration status if you are not a U.S. citizen. (I-20 and I-94)
- A letter from the on-campus employer addressed to the Social Security Administration
NOTE: A student who had received an SSN based on an EAD (for
OPT) or CPT, will need to show a valid EAD or an I-20 showing an
unexpired CPT endorsement. The letter from the employer is not required
in this case.
A letter issued by the International Education Enrichment &
Exchange Center confirming F-1 student status. After obtaining
the letter from the IEEEC confirming F-1 status, take the
aforementioned documents to the local Social Secerity Administration
Your replacement card will have the same name and number as your
previous card. The replacement card will be issued in about 10 days.
Read more on rule requiring on-campus work documentation for F-1 students.