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Social Security Number

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What is a Social Security Number?

In the U.S. a Social Security number (SSN) is issued to track pay over a worker’s lifetime. A SSN is not an off-campus employment authorization and a SSN is not required to open a bank account, rent an apartment, start a mobile phone contract or get a credit card.

If you are employed in the U.S. you must apply for a SSN. If you are not unemployed then you are not eligible for a SSN.

  • If you have been previously issued an SSN in the U.S., your SSN number belongs to you and you do not need to request a new number.
  • If you lost your SSN card and you are currently employed or have secured an on-campus job, you will need to start the SSN process again with the ISSC and then submit the replacement card application request to the Social Security Administration.
  • If you are J-1 students with DS-2019 that is not issued by ASU, please contact your J-1 program sponsor for further guidance on how to apply for a SSN.

How to Apply for Social Security Number

For new and transfer F-1 students

  1. After arrival to ASU, you should submit a SEVIS New Student Check-in eForm.
  2. Enroll full-time at ASU.
  3. Ask your department/employer for an on-campus Employment Offer letter. As of July 24, 2019, the ISSC and SSA will only accept an Employment Offer letter using this template.  *This template may not be fillable in all browsers and should be opened in either the Chrome or Microsoft Edge.*  The DSO signature and name should be left blank.
  4. From the istart homepage, click on the F-1/J-1 Student Services to complete the Certification Request for a Social Security Number Application eForm.  You will upload your employment offer letter to this eForm. Processing time may take up to 10 business days after we have received the completed request.
    • If further information or documentation is needed, the ISSC will contact you by email or phone.
    • You will be notified via email when your letter is ready to be picked up.
    • Processing time may take up to 10 business days after we have received the completed request.
  5. Once approved, bring your Employment Offer letter to the ISSC for certification.
  6. Apply for a social security number at a Social Security Card Administration .You will need to take the following documents to a Social Security Administration:

After meeting with a social security representative, you will receive a receipt for your transaction.

Once you receive your SSN in the mail, please contact ASU Human Resources or Aramark/Follett human resources, so that they can update your record accordingly.

Note for NEW F-1 Students

The Social Security Administration will need to verify your status through their database. Verification relies on two critical actions:

    • Your arrival in the US: It takes 10 days for the SSA database to be updated after your arrival in the US. This applies to anytime you re-enter the US from abroad as you will receive a new I-94 admission number.
    • Your activation in the SEVIS system. New students and students returning from a leave of absence must complete the SEVIS New Student Check-in before your record can be activated in the SEVIS system. Once active, it will take approximately 3 days for the SSA database to be updated.

For continuing F-1 current students

  1. Enroll full-time at ASU.
  2. Ask your department/employer for an on-campus Employment Offer letter. As of July 24, 2019, the ISSC and SSA will only accept an Employment Offer letter using this template.  *This template may not be fillable in all browsers and should be opened in either the Chrome or Microsoft Edge.*  The DSO signature and name should be left blank.
  3. From the istart homepage, click on the F-1/J-1 Student Services to complete the Certification Request for a Social Security Number Application eForm.  You will upload your employment offer letter to this eForm. Processing time may take up to 10 business days after we have received the completed request.
  • If further information or documentation is needed, the ISSC will contact you by email or phone.
  • You will be notified via email when your letter is ready to be picked up.
  • Processing time may take up to 10 business days after we have received the completed request.
  • Once approved, bring your Employment Offer letter to the ISSC for certification.
  • Apply for a social security number at a Social Security Card Center. You will need to take the following documents to a Social Security Card Center:
      • Original Employment Offer letter certified by the ISSC
      • Completed SSN application.You only need to print and bring page 5.
      • Passport
      • I-94
      • Most current Continued Attendance I-20

    After meeting with a social security representative you will receive a receipt for your transaction.

    Once you receive your SSN in the mail, please contact ASU Human Resources or Aramark/Follett human resources so that they can update your record accordingly.

    For F-1 CPT and OPT students

    You do not need a social security Certification Request Letter from the ISSC. You will be able to apply for a social security number using your CPT I-20 or OPT EAD card.

    • For CPT, you will not be able to apply for a SSN more than 30 days before the employment start date listed on your CPT I-20.
    • For OPT, you will not be able to apply for a SSN before the employment start date on your OPT EAD card.

    You will need to take the following documents to a Social Security Card Administration near you:

    • Original letter from your employer
    • Completed SSN application
    • Passport
    • I-94
    • OPT I-20 or CPT I-20
    • EAD card (for OPT students only)

    For J-1 students (DS-2019 issued by ASU)

    1. Enroll full-time at ASU.
    2. Ask your department/employer for an on-campus Employment Offer letter. As of July 24, 2019, the ISSC and SSA will only accept an Employment Offer letter using this template.  *This template may not be fillable in all browsers and should be opened in either the Chrome or Microsoft Edge.*  The DSO signature and name should be left blank.
    3. Receive approval from your sponsor and complete and submit the J-1 On-campus Employment Authorization eForm.
      1. If further information or documentation is needed, the ISSC will contact you by email or phone.
      2. You will be notified via email when your letter is ready to be picked up.
      3. Processing time may take up to 10 business days after we have received the completed request.
    4. Once approved, bring your Employment Offer letter to the ISSC for certification.
    5. Apply for a social security number at a Social Security Card Administration.

    You will need to take the following documents to a Social Security Card Center:

    • Original Employment Offer letter certified by the ISSC
    • Completed SSN application. You only need to print and bring page 5.
    • Passport
    • I-94
    • Most current Continued Attendance DS-2019

    After meeting with a social security representative you will receive a receipt for your transaction.

    Once you receive your SSN in the mail, please contact ASU Human Resources or Aramark/Follett human resources so that they can update your record accordingly.

    For J-1 Academic Training students

    You do not need a social security letter from the ISSC. You will be able to apply for a social security number using your Academic Training DS-2019.

    You will need to take the following documents to a Social Security Card Center near you:

    • Original letter from your employer
    • Completed SSN application
    • Passport
    • I-94
    • Academic Training DS-2019 and Academic Training letter

    Do I need a social security number to work in the United States?

    Yes. You will need a Social Security Number (SSN) to allow employers to report your earnings to the U.S. government. To save you a trip to the Social Security Office you can now apply for your SSN and card (SSN card) on the same application form you will use to apply for your EAD card, Form I-765.  If USCIS approves your application to work in the U.S. and you completed the section on the application to request an SSN card, then you will receive two documents – your Employment Authorization Document (EAD), also known as the “USCIS I-766 card” or “work permit”, and in another envelope your SSN card.  The SSN card will be mailed to the address you listed on your I-765 application. You should receive your SSN card no later than 7 business days after you receive your EAD from USCIS.

    Please see How to Apply for a Social Security Number.

    For more information on travel, please read through this document.