In the U.S., a social security number (SSN) is a 9-digit number issued to citizens, permanent residents and temporary (working) residents. It is issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA), an agency of the U.S. Federal Government. It’s primary purpose is to report an individual’s wages to the U.S. government and for taxation and identification purposes. SSN’s also provide retirement and disability benefits to workers and their families. You will only be issued one SSN in the U.S.
Do I need a SSN?
No, as an international student, your primary objective is to study, not to work. Therefore if you do not intend to work, you do not need a social security number. If required, you can visit the local SSA and request a denial letter (SSA-L676), which states an individual is not eligible for a SSN. This letter does not affect an individual’s ability to request a SSN in the future.
If you intend to work…
If you intend to work in the U.S. either on-campus or with off-campus work authorization, you must obtain a Social Security Number. A SSN does not authorize you to accept unauthorized off-campus employment. Unauthorized employment is a violation of your F-1 status.
How do I obtain a SSN?
- To obtain a SSN, you must first have a job offer.
- Now that you have a job offer, gather the application materials needed to apply for a SSN.
- Letter of Promised Employment. If you have an on-campus job, the letter will be generated by student employment and signed by the Payroll Department and the Assistant Director of International Student Services.
- A completed Social Security application form (SS-5)
- Your original passport, visa, Form I-20, I-94 and EAD card (if received)
- Visit the local SSN office and submit your application.
Some additional information…
It will take approximately 2 weeks to receive your SSN card in the mail. Once you receive it, bring it to student employment in Human Resources, so they can obtain a photocopy. Do not carry your social security card around with you and keep it in a safe place.
As an F-1 student it is your responsibility each year to file taxes. Student Employment offers Tax workshops in the spring.