International Student and Scholar Services

Social Security Information

Many classifications permit work and make a visitor eligible for a Social Security number.

However, qualifications vary depending upon your visitor status.

Most importantly, you must be physically in the United States to apply for a number.

Eligibility for a Social Security number

F-1 international students:

  • Those offered or working at an on-campus job.
  • Those granted curricular practical training employment authorization.
  • Those granted optional practical training employment authorization and the validity period has begun on their employment authorization document.

J-1 exchange visitor students:

  • Those pursuing their program of study.
  • Those granted academic training employment authorization after completion of their program of study.
  • Those sponsored by an outside agency should consult with their exchange program sponsor regarding eligibility and documentation.

J-1 exchange visitor scholars:

  • Eligible any time up to 15 days before the end date of their program as shown on their DS-2019.

Employment authorization document holders:

  • Eligible after the validity of their document has begun and no later than 15 days before the expiration of their document.

How to apply

Complete information is on the Social Security Administration website.

To apply:

  • Complete the Application for Social Security Card online.
  • Submit the application and the applicable supporting documents noted in the chart below to:
    • Social Security Administration office
    • 3800 Veterans Drive, Suite 100
    • St. Cloud, MN 56303
    • 800-772-1213
    • Hours - 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
    • MTC Bus Schedule.

Points to remember:

  • Wait at least 14 days after arriving in the U.S. to apply for a Social Security number.
  • Consult with the Center for International Studies before applying for a number.
  • Take all employment documentation.
  • Make sure the address on the application is valid and that the applicant's name is on the mailbox.
  • Citizens of Canada do NOT need a U.S. visa to apply for a Social Security number.
  • F-2 visa holders are NOT eligible to apply for a Social Security number.
Visa Type F J
F-1 on
F-1 on
Completed application for SS card (SS-5) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Passport (not expired) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
U.S. visa (not expired or expired) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
I-94 card (not expired) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
I-20 or DS-2019 (not expired) Yes
(I-20 with
CPT p.3)
(I-20 with
SEH p.3)
(I-20 with
OPT p.3)
EAD (dates must be valid) No No Yes Yes No No Yes
Social Security letter from CIS Yes No No No Yes Yes No
Letter from employer Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes

Chart Codes: OCE/on-campus employment; CPT/curricular practical training; OPT/optional practical training

Employers and nonimmigrant employees

  • Students may begin work and receive pay before receiving their Social Security number.
    • No statutory deadline prevents an employee from continuing to work if the card has not arrived.
  • Students must apply for a Social Security number within seven days of beginning work. That may be demonstrated by showing:
    • A copy of the application form submitted.
    • An acknowledgement of receipt provided by the Social Security Administration.
    • A statement signed by the employee.
  • If the student does not have a Social Security number, the employer should collect the employee's:
    • full name.
    • address.
    • date of birth.
    • place of birth.
    • father's full name.
    • mother's full maiden name.
    • gender.
    • date he or she applied for a Social Security number.
  • If the employee does not have a Social Security number when wage reports (W-2s) are due:
    • Paper filers should enter “Applied For” in Box d.
    • Electronic filers should enter all zeros in the field for the Social Security number.
  • Immediately upon receiving their SSN, the employee should report their number to their employer.
  • If the employer has already filed a wage report, they must file a Form W-2c (Corrected Wage and Tax Statement) to show the employee’s number.

Sources: Code of Federal Regulations Title 26 – Internal Revenue; Part 31 – Employment Taxes and Collection of Income Tax at Source; U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Immigration and Customs Enforcement; F-1 and M-1 Students: Social Security and Tax Issues, and the Council on International Educational Exchange – Special Section: Social Security and Taxes.

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