Social Security Number (SSN)

The Social Security Number (SSN) is primarily intended to identify participants in the US federal government's Social Security Program.  SSNs are generally assigned to people who are authorized to work in the United States and are used to report their wages to the government. 

Overview of Social Security Number (SSN)

F-1 International Student and SSN

Social Security will not assign an F-1 International student a number just to enroll in a college or school.  You are not required to have a SSN to open a bank account nor apply for a California Driver’s License. 

If you are currently in F-1 status and have found an on-campus job or have been authorized to work off-campus (such as CPT, OPT, or Economic Hardship), you should be eligible to apply for a SSN.

SSN is not a work authorization. Just because you have a SSN does not mean you are eligible to work in the United States.

Where to Apply for SSN

Students can apply for SSN at local Social Security Administration (SSA) office in person.  New F-1 students must register full-time and have been physically present in the United States for at least 10 days before they apply for a SSN.  

When to Apply for SSN

If you have obtained On-Campus employment at SF State, you will need a job offer letter from your On-Campus employer and a SSN support letter from OIP in order to apply for a SSN. The On-Campus employer should use the job offer template (Microsoft Word, 13 KB) provided by the Social Security Administration.  To obtain a SSN support letter from OIP, follow the instruction on the On-Campus Employment page.

Download the On-Campus Job Offer Template

If you have been approved for CPT, Social Security Administration will accept your application within 30 days of the scheduled employment start date. 

If you have an approved OPT or Economic Hardship and have received an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), Social Security Administration will accept your application after the employment authorization start date on the EAD.

How to Apply for SSN

F-1 students must present the following documents to a Social Security Administration office when applying for SSN:

  1. Valid passport
  2. Original SF State I-20
  3. I-94 arrival record (print from https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/)
  4. Proof of Employment: 
    On-Campus employment: A job offer letter from your On-Campus employer and a SSN support letter from OIP.
    CPT: An original I-20 with CPT authorization.
    OPT or Economic Hardship: A valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD).