How to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) as an F1 visa or J1 visa international student

Social Security Number for international students: In this guide, we will learn how to apply for a social security number (SSN) as an F1 visa or J1 visa international student. We will also learn how to obtain an SSN Letter of Ineligibility for someone unable to obtain an SSN as an F1 or J1 visa non-immigrant.

Social Security Numbers (SSN) are 9 digit numbers primarily used to report an individual’s wages to the U.S government through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and to determine if a person is eligible to obtain a Social Security benefit.

Why You Need an Social Security Numbers (SSN)

As an international student on an F1 or J1 visa, you will need a Social Security Number or an SSN to do the following;

  1. Receiving income and paying taxes on a job
  2. Receiving government benefits, if you are considered a resident alien for tax purposes
  3. Applying for a driver’s license or a state ID
  4. Opening financial accounts, such as credit card accounts, and online banking accounts
  5. Applying for loans, such as student loans, or car loans

Requirement for Social Security Numbers (SSN) on F1/J1 Visa

There are two prerequisites, either of which must be met in order to obtain a Social Security Card as an international student;

  • You must be authorized for employment by your school’s designated school official for F1 student, and if you’re a J1 student, you must be authorized for employment by your sponsor.

This authorization usually occurs when F1 Student or J1 Student apply for on campus employment or off campus employment in the form of CPT or academic training.

  • When you obtain a work authorization from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which is the case for F1 international students who apply and are approved for the Optional Practical Training OPT

How to get Social Security Number for International Students

Applying for your Social Security Number (SSN) is absolutely free, and if you’ve met any of the prerequisites listed above, you may contact your local Social Security Administration office and schedule an appointment as a first time Social Security number applicant.

You would first need to complete an application for a Social Security card, as well as presenting original documents that can be used to prove your identity, your age, your work eligibility, and your U.S immigration status.

Documents required for SSN for F1 students

As an international student applying for your first time Social Security Number, it’s best to go along with you the following documents. These document include;

  • An unexpired and most recent admissions stamp foreign passport, which could be used to prove your identity and your age.
  • Foreign birth certificate (optional): If you have one, you can go with your foreign birth certificate that could be used to prove your age.
  • I-94 arrival/departure record
  • Form I-20 (F1 students)
  • DS-2019 (J1 students)

These documents will be needed to prove your immigration status.

Supplementary Documents

  • Letters of work authorization from your DSO or Sponsor (F1 students who plan to work on campus)
  • Evidence of employment from your employer (This evidence of employment could be in the form of an awful letter or page stub)
  • J1 students must also provide a letter from their sponsor authorizing them for employment.
  • A valid EAD card (F1 students who plan to work in OPT)
  • An F1 student who plans to work in CPT must present an I-20 endorsed for CPT by their designated school official

Note: Your on campus or CPT work must begin within 30 days from the date you apply for your SSN, in order for your SSN application to be processed.

Another way an international student can apply for the Social Security Number for the first time, is when an F1 student is applying for the Optional Practical Training (OPT) on the I-765 application form used to apply for the OPT EAD.

You can choose the option to apply for your Social Security Number. If you choose the option of applying for your Social Security Number when you complete your OPT application, then when USCIS approves your OPT application, you will also receive a Social Security card from the Social Security Administration Office.

Approved SSN Card

Once your application has been approved, your card containing the 9-digit SSN would be mailed to the address you listed on your application.

If you look at your SSN card, you would see an annotation on this card stating “Valid for Work Only with DHS Authorization”.

This ensures that your future employer verifies that you have received the legal authorization to work in the US before employing you.

Social Security Number (SSN) Denial Letter

F1 and J1 international students who do not have the work authorization or do not intend to work in the U.S can request a denial letter by visiting the Social Security Administration Office.

This letter is also called a Social Security Number Letter of Ineligibility (Form SSA-L676) and as the name implies, it States that the individual is not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number.

Requesting this letter does not affect your ability to obtain a Social Security Number in the future. In some. This letter may then be used to apply for a driver’s license or a state ID in some U.S States that accept this letter in place of a social security card.

In Summary

I believe by now, you have learned why you need a Social Security Number (SSN) and how you can obtain one as an F1 or J1 visa International Student. Also, I believe you have learned what you can do if you are ineligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN).

Thanks for reading this detailed guide on social security number for international students.

DISCLAIMER: This guide and content is designed for general information only and is NOT legal advice. The information presented in this guide should not be construed to be formal legal advice. If you need legal advice, you may contact a licensed attorney.