International student process to file for a social security number.

What is a Social Security Number?

The Social Security number is a nine-digit number necessary for the employment of international students which is issued through the Social Security Administration office. Additional information regarding the Social Security Administration processes can be obtained at

Lawfully admitted noncitizens can get many benefits and services without a Social Security number. You do not need a number to conduct business with a bank, register for school, apply for educational tests, obtain private health insurance, apply for school lunch programs or apply for subsidized housing. You cannot get a Social Security number for the sole purpose of obtaining a driver’s license.

How Can an International Student receive a Social Security Number?

A social security number can be assigned by the Social Security Administration office to students in F-1 status who are authorized to work in the United States. The following options are available for work authorization for F-1 students:

On-Campus Employment

International students maintaining valid F-1 status are permitted to work on the Adelphi University campus while maintaining a valid I-20 and enrolled in a full course of study.

Curricular Practical Training

Curricular practical training is alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.

Optional Practical Training

Optional practical training is one type of work permission available for eligible F-1 students. It allows students to get real-world work experience related to their field of study.

Economic Hardship Employment

USCIS makes case-by-case decisions for off-campus employment for students who can show that new, unexpected circumstances beyond their control have created severe economic hardship.

Employment Sponsored by International Organizations

F-1 students are eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the USCIS in order to work in an internship with a recognized international organization.

Special Student Relief Through Emergent Circumstances

Special student relief may be provided to F-1 students experiencing unforeseen, severe economic hardship caused by emergent circumstances.

Volunteer Experiences

F-1 students are able to volunteer with an organization that ordinarily engages and utilizes volunteers as long as the student is not volunteering primarily for work experience but because he/she wants to contribute to the mission of that organization.

In order to file for a SSN, the following original documents are needed by the SSA:

  • Proof of Immigration Status (I-20 or DS-2019, I-94 Arrival/Departure Card, Unexpired Foreign Passport
  • Proof of Employment Authorization (You qualify through one of the below areas)
    • On-Campus Employment: Letter from DSO (International Services) and Hiring Employer
    • Curricular Practical Training Employment: CPT authorized I-20 with a letter from employer
    • Optional Practical Training Employment: I-766 Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

When to File:

Applicants are eligible to file with SSA once all necessary requirements have been met and all documents are complete.

Applicants in initial status should wait until 2 weeks after the program start date indicated on the Form I-20 or DS-2019 in order to apply for an SSN.

Where to file:

Applicants must apply for a social security number in the county in which you physically live and receive mail.
SSA office hours are Monday to Friday: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

  • Long Island Social Security Administration: 211 Station Road 5th Floor
  • The Brooklyn Social Security Administration: 625 Fulton Street, Sixth Floor Brooklyn, New York 11201
  • The Queens Social Security Administration: 155-10 Jamaica Avenue, Second Floor Jamaica, New York 11432

Length of Process:

Following the application to the Social Security Administration office in person, it will take an estimated 10—14 business days in order to receive the card and number to the physical mailing address used. If additional security clearance is necessary as deemed by the SSA Office, the process will take longer than estimated. If you do not receive your card within three weeks, you should return to the Social Security Administration Office.

Gathering Necessary Documents

The process students must complete once hired.

Student Must Request Letter Verifying Employment Offer: Work Eligibility

Once hired by a university office, the student should request an official hiring letter which is necessary to apply for the Social Security Number through the Social Security Administration Office. The following information must be indicated in the original letter on university letterhead, with an original signature according to SSA requirements:

  • Identification of campus employer and the type of work the student will be doing
  • Description of the students’ job
  • Students employment start date
  • The number of hours the student is or will be, working
  • The supervisor’s name and telephone number.

Student Should Bring the Original Employment Offer to International Services

Upon receipt of the employment offer, International Services will process the required on-campus employment work eligibility document, necessary for the application to the Social Security Administration.

This letter by the designated school official will include the following:

  • Identification of student
  • Confirmation of current school status

International Services will communicate with the student once the letter is complete and provide all the necessary documents needed for the social security application.

The student must file in person to the appropriate SSA office based on current physical residence.

The social security number typically takes about 10 – 14 business days to be received in the mail.

Once received the student should bring the card to International Services for further steps.

International Services will assist the student with all the necessary requirements for on-campus employment.

Length of Process:

In order for students to begin on-campus employment, the student must have received the social security number by the Social Security Administration Office. Following receipt of the number, the student must complete all necessary requirements and have been cleared by the Payroll and the Human Resources Office. The estimated time necessary to complete all steps is listed below:

Hiring Process:

This is determined between the employee and the hiring office.

Request for Employment Offer Letter:

  • This request is made by the student to the hiring office
  • It can take 1—3 business days or more for processing depending on the hiring office.

Request for Designated School Official Letter:

  • This request is made by the student to the International Services Office
  • This will take 1—3 business days for processing.
Phone Number
Post Hall, 203
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