Social Security Numbers for F-1 & J-1 International Students

In order to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN), you generally must have a job or a job offer.

To apply for the SSN you will use the following process:

Step 1 – Read “About the SSN” section and gather the required documents.

Step 2 – Complete the Supplement to the SSN form with your hiring manager and email the completed form to your OISS Advisor to review. The Supplement form is not needed for CPT or OPT work authorization.

Step 3 – Make an appointment directly with a Social Security Administration Office (SSA) and read “After You Obtain an SSN”


About The SSN & Required Documents

In the United States, a Social Security number (SSN) is a nine-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents. The SSN is issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration, an independent agency of the United States government. Its primary purpose is to track individuals for Social Security purposes, but also used to track wages and reporting of income to the government. The SSN assigned to you when you apply is your number for your entire life. If you return to the U.S. in the future, you will keep the same SSN.


Be careful with your Social Security card and number to prevent theft! Keep your card in a safe place and do not lose it. Do not carry your card with you. Also, be aware that your Social Security card is not an identity card and that your number should not be used in everyday situations. Only give your number in official situations dealing directly with employment, banking, taxes, and verify that your number will be kept confidential. If you suspect fraud, report it to the Social Security Administration immediately.

To learn more about scams that involve social security numbers, WHAM! Stop The Sham Before it’s a Scam will aid in protecting yourself

For More Information

A lot of helpful information is available on the Social Security Administration’s website or you can call on business days between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at 1-800-772-1213. For more information, please refer to Additional information for students. If you encounter problems, contact your OISS Advisor.

Eligibility & Required Documents


In order to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN), you must have the following:

  1. Apply at least 10 days after arriving in the U.S.;
  2. An on-campus job or an off-campus job offer with approved practical training (CPT or OPT);
  3. A continued attendance I-20 or DS-2019 (not the initial I-20 or DS-2019 you arrived in the U.S.).

Students who receive a stipend or a taxable scholarship, and are NOT employed, should apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead.

Students who only need a SSN refusal letter for a Missouri Driver’s License or ITIN, etc. must apply for a Refusal Letter (Form SSA-L676). They should then take all of the documents listed above when applying for the SSA-L676.

Important: All documents submitted must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. SSA cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents.

Required Documents:

F-1 Students

With on-campus employment Authorized for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Authorized for Optional Practical Training (OPT)

J-1 and Exchange students

J-1 Students J-2 with Work Authorization


Supplement to the SSN Form

Skip this step if you are applying for an SSN after receiving CPT authorization. This form is only required for students applying for an SSN after receiving for on-campus employment.

All F-1 and J-1 students must complete the Supplement to the SSN Application Form (PDF). This document certifies that you meet the employment requirement to apply for an SSN. First, you and your hiring manager will complete the top two portions of the form. Then, you will email the completed form to your OISS Advisor to review and approve.

This is the only required form that your OISS Advisor will review and approve for your SSN application. OISS does not review your SS-5 form.


Make an Appointment with the SSA Office and Next Steps

Social Security Office Location and Hours

In order apply for an SSN you must make an appointment with a Social Security Administration (SSA) Office. To find the SSA office, use the SSA Office Locator Tool. You will inquire directly with the SSA office on how to make an appointment.

Processing Time

You can expect the processing of your application to take about two to four weeks. You will then receive your Social Security card in the mail.

After you obtain an SSN

Notify the Registrar

Once you have received your SSN card, please contact Registrar to update your student record. For on-campus employment, you will work with your hiring manager to update your information in Work Day.