Social Security Number (SSN)

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a 9-digit identification number, assigned by the U.S. government, that is used for tax reporting purposes. It is NOT employment authorization. 

Non-US citizens are legally required to provide a US SSN:

  • For wage and tax reporting purposes
  • For tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

However, banks, apartment owners, telephone companies, and many other businesses typically ask you for a SSN even though you may not be eligible for one. Those businesses should be able to provide you services without a SSN. If they persist, the ISSSO can write a generic letter explaining why you are not eligible for a SSN and therefore, why they should not deny you their service.


As an F or J student, you are eligible for a SSN if you have an actual job offer. Students who have never worked on campus, but who find authorized employment off campus (like CPT or OPT) are also eligible to apply for a SSN. Persons with F-2, H-4, B-1 or B-2 status may not be employed and cannot obtain a SSN.

Applying for a SSN

  • F1 students with an on-campus job, GRA or GTA will need an SSN support letter from the ISSSO. This can be requested in iStart under F-1 Student Services. Students on CPT can request an SSN support letter as part of the CPT request process.
  • J1 students or scholars only need their employment letter.

You will take the required letters to the Social Security Administration (SSA) office to request a free SSN.  It will be mailed to your local address in the U.S. in about 2 weeks.


    • F-1 students with an on-campus job, GRA or GTA can request a support letter in iStart under F-1 Student Services.
    • F-1 students on CPT can request an SSN support letter as part of the CPT request process.
    • J-1 students sponsored by IIE, Fulbright, Muskie, etc (other than KSU) do not need to request a social security letter from the ISSS in order to request a SSN. The letter from your sponsor should suffice.
  • Go to the nearest Social Security Administration (SSA) office. Find the nearest location.

    Bring the following with you:

    • EVERYONE: Passport, visa or I-797A, I-94 Card, and completed Form SS-5 available on the SSA website
    • F-1 Students: 
      • For on-campus employment: Valid I-20 form and the ISSSO letter
      • For CPT employment: Valid I-20 with CPT authorization, employer letter, and the ISSSO letter
      • For OPT employment: I-20, OPT authorization, EAD card, and employer offer letter
    • J-1 Students:  DS-2019 form and employment offer letter from your sponsor.
    • J-1 Scholars/Researchers:  DS-2019 and employment letter
    • J-2 Students:  DS-2019 for the J-1 student/scholar and J-2 dependent, valid EAD (Employment Authorization Document) from U.S. Citizen & Immigration Services (USCIS)
    • H-1 Students: A Copy of Form I-797 showing approval of H-1 petition

    Please Be Aware:

    • Wait at least 10 days after you initially entered the United States in order to request a SSN. This will allow enough time for the SSA to have access to your immigration information and verify your legal status and employment eligibility.
    • There is no cost to apply for a SSN. After submitting the application, the SSN card will arrive by mail in approximately two-four weeks at your local address in the U.S.
  • For Cobb County residents you must go to the following location:

    200 Chastain Center Blvd Suite 250, Kennesaw, GA 30144
    Phone: (866) 964-4690

    To find a location near you, visit The Social Security Administration's site.

  • Go to Employment in F-1 status for information.
  • Only after you apply for a social security number will HR be able to start processing your employment paperwork. If your I-20 does not list employment information, you will have to provide them with a receipt for your SSN application. When the SSN card arrives, please bring it to HR as soon as possible to begin receiving payment.
  • No. Students who are not eligible for social security due to not having employment in the U.S. may request a letter of ineligibility (SSA-L676) from the Social Security Administration for use in obtaining a driver's license.

    IMPORTANT: If you are told by the SSA that your admission number (I-94 number) has not been put in the system/database, the SSN representative should make photocopies of all your documents and give you a receipt. If you are told to come back or go to USCIS, kindly ask them to verify your immigration status by faxing a request for verification to LOSISV (Los Angeles Immigration Status Verification) unit. Make sure they make copies of your immigration documents for verification. If this happens to you, the SSA office has indicated that it can take up to 90 days to receive your SSN. If denied, request a written denial, and come see us!