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SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER (SSN)

 

If you are authorized to engage in paid employment, your employer will request your Social Security Number (SSN). You will need an authorization letter from International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) to apply for your SSN.  Review all steps below to understand how to request this authorization letter.

 



OVERVIEW

Guidance on this page will only apply to:

 


Guidance on this page will not apply to:

  • Students pursuing unpaid internships and volunteer opportunities.
  • Students receiving scholarships/fellowships.
  • Students requesting an SSN for other reasons that are not related to employment authorization F-2 and J-2 Dependents.
  • Students who already have an SSN.

 


TIMELINE OF STEPS TO TAKE 

STEP 1 STEP 2 STEP 3 STEP 4 STEP 5
Review this page and eligibility. Review below how this process may impact your visa status. Submit a Letter Request (Social Security) in iPortal. Submit your SSN Application to SSA, and wait to get your SSN in the mail. Review below additional resources.

 

STEP 1: CONFIRM ELIGIBILITY

  • A Social Security Number (SSN) is a 9-digit identification number, assigned by the United States (U.S.) government that is used for tax reporting purposes, and is required for F-1 and J-1 students who will be earning money in the U.S.
  • You must first have work authorization from your program sponsor (UC San Diego) or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to apply for an SSN.
  • Keep in mind that obtaining an SSN is not the same as obtaining work authorization.
  • While your work authorization will eventually expire, your SSN is a unique number that is permanent and will never change.
  • If you already have an SSN, then you do not need to apply for another one each time you obtain work authorization.

STEP 2: CONSIDER IMPACTS TO YOUR VISA STATUS

  • You must have employment authorization from your program sponsor (UC San Diego) or the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before you begin working.
  • If you have applied for the SSN, you may work while the Social Security Number application is being processed, as long as you have the appropriate work authorization.
  • There is no provision in the law that requires employers to have their employees SSNs before hiring them, there is also no provision that prohibits an employee from beginning work if he or she has not yet obtained an SSN.

STEP 3: SUBMIT YOUR REQUEST TO ISPO

Once you have confirmed eligibility to apply for an SSN, you will need to request a Social Security Administration (SSA) application support letter from ISPO by following instructions on our Verification Documents page .

STEP 4: SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION TO SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

Once you have received your SSA application support letter from ISPO, you can submit your SSN application to your nearest SSA office.

ISPO recommends that you wait at least 10 days after entering the U.S. and at least 5 days after your SEVIS record has been SEVIS registered or validated before applying for your Social Security number (SSN). Visit the SSA’s Noncitizen “Learn what documents you need to get a Social Security Card” page.

Take the following documents with you to your nearest SSA office:

Upon application for a social security card, a receipt will be issued.

Usually, the card will be mailed in approximately three weeks.

STEP 5: REVIEW ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Social Security Administration

For more information see the Social Security Administration (SSA) International Students And Social Security Numbers Information Sheet.


Long Names and Other Issues

If the name listed on your I-94, DS-2019/I-20, or passport do not match one another, or if your name is too long for the SAVE system, the Social Security Officer will not be able to verify your identity using the online system. Instead, the Officer will have to fill out the DHS Form G-845 and the Supplement to the G-845 (if applicable) and manually submit your documents to DHS for verification. This process will take a couple of weeks. If your documents need to be manually verified, you will be given an acknowledgement letter that contains your case reference number. Keep this acknowledgement letter in a safe place as you will need the case reference number to follow up if it has passed the estimated processing time provided by the Officer.

Note: If the Social Security Officer tries to turn you away, saying he or she cannot verify you because your name is too long or because the names on all of your documents do not match due to the character limitations of the different forms, ask to speak to a supervisor! In no situation should they turn you away for these issues, instead they should submit your documents to DHS for a manual verification.