Social Security Numbers for International Students

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

You must wait until you have been in the U.S. for at least 10 days before applying. Check the date on your admission record (I-94) for your exact arrival date. If you do not qualify for an SSN because you are receiving a stipend or a taxable scholarship, but are not employed, you should apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead.

The Social Security Number

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 number 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, is 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. Your Social Security card is not an identity card and should not be used in everyday situations. You should not carry your card with you. Keep it in a safe place. To learn about identity theft, please read our information on Safety.

Required Documents

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

F-1 Students

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

*The supplement should be emailed directly to your OISS Advisor. The form takes at least three business days to process.

Exchange Visitors

J-1 Students J-1 Scholars J-2 with Work Authorization

H-1B, E-3 or O-1 Employees


Social Security Office Location and Hours

Due to COVID, operations for making an appointment have changed. To make an appointment with the Social Security Administration (SSA) Office on Delmar you should call 1-888-810-7291. An agent will take some basic demographic information over the phone. A supervisor will call you back to set up an appointment date and time at the Delmar location.

This is the most up to date information we have regarding the change in operations at the SSA office for the Delmar location. Please contact your OISS Advisor if you have any further questions.

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.

Notify the Registrar

Students, once you have received your SSN card, please contact to update your student record.

Important Info About the SSN

Be careful with your Social Security card and number to prevent theft! Keep your card in a safe place. 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 or 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. Additional information for students can be found at If you encounter problems, contact your international adviser at the OISS.