Skip to main content

Social Security Number

Social Security

For information and regulations about Social Security numbers, visit

Useful Social Security Administration Publications:

In general, only noncitizens who have permission to work from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can apply for a Social Security number. Lawfully admitted noncitizens can get many benefits and services without a Social Security number.

There are only two valid nonwork reasons:

  1. A federal law requires you to provide your Social Security number to get a particular benefit or service.
  2. A state or local law requires you to provide your Social Security number to get general assistance benefits for which you have already qualified.

These are NOT valid nonwork reasons:

  1. Obtaining a driver’s license.
  2. Applying to rent/purchase a house or apartment.
  3. Applying for a bank account.
  4. Getting utility services or cell phone
  5. Registering for school.
  6. Obtaining health insurance.

The main use of Social Security numbers (SSN) by businesses and landlords is to check a person’s credit history. International students usually do not have any credit history since they have recently moved to the U.S., so it is useless for businesses to run a credit check on a SSN or to even ask for a SSN.

Many businesses will say that it is a requirement for the customer to provide a SSN. However, this is not true. Social Security numbers are the most common form of identification in the U.S., but they are not the only form of legal acceptable identification.

  • Completed Form SS-5 application (online)
  • Valid passport
  • I-20—for CPT, OPT or other off-campus employment, must show employment information on page 2
  • I-94–if last entered the country after July 2013, you will need to print your electronic record
  • Official school letter from employer—If you have a campus job, bring your job contract, photocopy of a completed job application or proof of employment authorization
  • EAD (Employment Authorization Document, Form I-766)—if you have been approved for off-campus employment or OPT (not needed for CPT)

You must bring ALL these documents, or your application will be denied.

You will need to wait at least 10 days after you enter the country and 48 hours after your record has been activated (registered) in SEVIS for the current term.

Contact the F-1 International Student Advisor to register your SEVIS record. You will need to be registered and confirmed for classes for the current term for your SEVIS record can be registered.


  • For on-campus employment: no earlier than 30 days before the start date listed on your employment contract or authorization letter.
  • For CPT: no earlier than 30 days before the CPT employment start date listed on page 3 of your CPT I-20
  • For OPT: no earlier than the employment start date listed on your EAD (I-766)
  • For other off-campus employment: no earlier than the employment start date listed on your EAD (I-766)

Yes, you can start to work on the approved employment start date without a SSN. However, you will not be able to receive a paycheck without one. When you apply, it is recommend that you ask for a receipt from the SSA to prove that you have applied for a Social Security card.

For more information, please see Employer Responsibilities When Hiring Foreign Workers

You can replace your card for free. You will need to bring the same original documentation used when first applied. Be sure to indicate on the application form that you are applying for a replacement card (question 11: check yes and answer questions 12-13).

Contact Us

Reach out the Office of International Affairs at if you have questions!

We are using cookies to give you the best experience. You can find out more about which cookies we are using or switch them off in privacy settings.
AcceptPrivacy Settings


  • GDPR Privacy Policy
  • Google Analytics

GDPR Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy

Overall Policy

Thank you for visiting our website. We’re pleased to share our policy regarding the use of information received here. Privacy is a matter of concern to us. We are committed to protecting your privacy and the security of the information that you may provide to us.

Personal Information

We do not track individual users. Your email address or other personal information is not collected unless you provide it on a form, survey or application. We will not sell or otherwise make available any personally identifiable information to any organization not directly affiliated with us. We will comply with legitimate government or legal requests as necessary to protect our organization or to comply with laws.

Traffic Analysis

We analyze traffic to this site. We collect statistical data on an aggregated basis through Google Analytics. For example, we collect information about the domain names of servers that bring visitors to our site. We count the number of visitors and keep track of where they go on our site. Such information allows us to find out what areas users visit most frequently and what services they access the most, which enables us to create a better overall user experience. To gather such data, we use cookie technology, which collects data in aggregate form, not by individual user.


As referenced above, we use cookie technology for traffic analysis. Cookies are small pieces of information stored by your browser on your computer’s hard drive. The cookies placed by our server do not gather personal information about you, do not provide any way for us to contact you and do not gather information about your computer. The cookies simply allow us to enhance our site by letting us know what sections are visited most often. The use of cookies is common on the Internet, and our use of them is similar to that of other reputable online organizations.

Links To Other Sites

Our site contains links to other sites and Internet resources. We are not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of these third-party websites and Internet resources.

Updates To Privacy Policy

We may update the privacy policy periodically, and we encourage visitors to review them on a regular basis.

Last revised: June 2015

Google Analytics