Social security numbers are assigned to U.S citizens, permanent residents and eligible nonimmigrant workers in the United States. They are used to report wages to the government and track Social Security benefits and for other identification purposes. Only nonimmigrants (F1 students) who have approval to work can apply for a social security number. F2 dependents are not eligible to apply for social security numbers. 

The social security office will need to verify the following. 

  • Age (birth certificate, passport)  

  • Identity (passport)  

  • Immigration Status (I-94, I-20, Valid Passport)  

  • Work Authorization (I-20 with CPT authorization or Employment Authorization Document (EAD) for OPT)  

Most social security departments use the Systematic Aliens Verification for Entitlement (SAVE) program to verify immigration status so you must have an active I-20.  

F1 students are not eligible for social security numbers unless they have an offer of employment (no exceptions)  


The first step would be to apply for CPT I-20 (see articles - CPT - Curricular Practical Training : International Student Office ( )   

 How to apply for a social security number  

  • Review local social security office requirements online.  

  • Provide documentation proving your eligibility (CPT/OPT or on campus employment) 

  • Valid passport, visa and I-797 to F1 notice if applicable. 

  • Most recent I-94 

  • I-20 with CPT or OPT endorsement on page 2 (and EAD card for OPT students)  

  • SSN application form (Form SS-5) 

  • Evidence of employment (Letter from employer that describes your job, start date, Employer EIN, Number of work hours and supervisor name and contact info)  

  • Letter of enrollment verification (apply HERE 

While you wait for your SSN your employer can use a letter from the Social security office stating that you have applied for a number and proof of your approval as proof of authorization to work. However, your employer may require you to obtain your social security card prior to starting. (Reference - 


Additional information  

Some states might require a social security number prior to applying for a Driver’s license. In this instance, you might need a letter of ineligibility.  

Letter of ineligibility request  

  • Valid passport 

  • Most recent I-94 

  • Active I-20  

  • SSN application form (Form SS-5) 

  • Letter of enrollment verification (apply HERE 

Once you have received your SSN, please update the following: 

  • Your university records.  

  • Personal records (banks, employer etc.)  

Contacting Social Security Administration 

24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call toll free at 1-800-772-1213  

or at our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, if you’re deaf or hard of hearing.