Obtaining a Social Security Number

If you plan to work in the United States, you will need a SSN. SSNs are available only to those who have obtained employment. It is not possible to obtain a SSN before obtaining employment. In other words, you must be hired for a job.

Under no other circumstances can a student obtain a SSN – including to facilitate the issuance of credit cards, cell phones, bank accounts.

Am I eligible to receive a Social Security Number (SSN)?

F-1 students are eligible for a Social Security Number only if one of the following apply:

  • Student is currently employed on campus or has a job offer
  • Student has been issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • Student has been approved for Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

All J-1 Exchange Visitors are eligible for a Social Security Number. J-2 visa-holders qualify for a SSN only after having obtained a work permit (EAD) from the United State Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Who is not eligible?

The follow categories of students cannot apply for a SSN:

  • F-2 dependents
  • F-1 students on scholarships or fellowships
  • J-2 visa holders who do not have an EAD (USCIS working authorization)

If you are in one of the above categories you are eligible for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). See below for more information.

What do I have to prepare?

First, visit our office to obtain an On-Campus Employment Guide. This guide will outline the steps below in greater detail and include the necessary paperwork.

F-1 students must submit in person to the Social Security Administration the following documents:

1. A completed Form SS-5: Application for a Social Security Card
2. At least two documents that establish your age, identity and immigration status:

  • Passport that has been issued at least one year prior to the date that you apply for the SSN. If it has not, your birth certificate may also be required or your previous passport.
  • I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 student status).

3. A current I-94 card, also known as the Arrival/Departure record. (This I-94 card should be stamped with the correct notation "F-1 D/S”)

4. Evidence of SSN eligibility, which must be one of the following:

  • EAD (The EAD start date must be valid before applying)
  • I-20 with CPT endorsement
  • For on campus employment, two letters are needed: 1) A letter from the on-campus employer addressed to the Social Security Administration, and 2) a letter issued by ISSS confirming your F-1 student status

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it necessary to have a SSN to apply for a driver’s license?

No. Some BMV officials may demand that you obtain an SSN or a letter from the SSA Office stating that you do not qualify for an SSN. If this occurs, you should politely remind them that this is not necessary. Ask the officer to access the immigration data base to verify that no employment authorization has been granted and you do not qualify for an SSN. If you continue to experience problems, ask to speak to the supervisor.

I don’t have a SSN yet but am scheduled to begin work soon. What should I do?

University of Dayton regulations require that you have a Social Security Number before beginning your employment.