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International Students & Scholars

Planning to Work?

Obtaining A Social Security Number

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a unique, 9-digit number used for taxpayer identification, income reporting, and record-keeping purposes. Once issued, the number is valid for life. Keep it safe and provide only as needed to U.S. government agencies or credible financial institutions. The SSN is required in order to be paid for any work done in the U.S. whether on-campus employment or off-campus internship (practical training).


International students holding a non-immigrant F-1 or J-1 student visa who have secured a paid position in the U.S. are eligible for a SSN.

Who can apply?

When to apply?

  • The application for a SSN must be made before your on-campus job begins.
  • You may not apply earlier than 30 days before your work begin date if you are doing on-campus work or CPT.
  • Once you’ve submitted your application you should receive your SSN within 2-4 weeks.
  • OPT applicants have the option to apply for a SSN at the same time they apply for EAD.

How to apply?

Application information - Obtaining A Social Security Number (PDF).

Where to apply?

Even though there are many Social Security Administration offices in New York, it is highly recommended to apply at your local office by your place of residence. You can also use the Social Security Office Locator to find the center where you should apply.

When on OPT

OPT applicants now have the option to apply for a Social Security number (SSN) at the same time they apply for employment authorization/Employment Authorization Document (EAD). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has revised the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (PDF). The revised I-765 Form includes certain items which will enable an OPT applicant  to apply for an SSN.

Please note, if you obtained an SSN prior to applying for OPT, you do NOT need to reapply and should simply skip these items on the I-765 Form.

LOST YOUR Social Security Number?

It is important to protect your SSN and be aware of identity theft (PDF). If you lose your SSN card you will need to reapply for a new one. You can only apply for a replacement card if you are authorized to work off-campus or have an on-campus job.