Obtaining a Social Security Number

A Social Security number (SSN) is issued to track earnings over a worker’s lifetime. The Social Security number itself is not a work permit.

F-1 students who are employed in the U.S. must apply for a Social Security number. Dependents in F-2 status are not eligible for a Social Security number. (Students who will not work on campus but who receive a taxable scholarship should apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) for tax purposes).

The Social Security Administration office nearest to Elmhurst University is located at 230 West Lake Street, Bloomingdale, IL 60108. However, if you live off-campus please locate the closest SSA office to your current address.

Click each of the below sections to access and review pertinent information.

To issue a Social Security number, the Social Security Administration requires evidence that you:

  • Are eligible to work in the U.S.
  • Are a full-time student
  • Have received a formal offer of on-campus employment, OR
  • Have been authorized for off-campus employment through Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT).

A Social Security number is not required to obtain a driver’s license, cell phone, credit card, insurance, admission to an academic institution or other “non-work” reasons. The Social Security Administration must also verify your immigration documents and status with Immigration before issuing the Social Security number.

Complete an SSN Application and assemble the following documents:

  • Form SS-5
  • Passport
  • F-1 Visa
  • I-20
  • I-94
  • Employment specific documents
    • On-Campus Job Documents
      • SSN Letter from Hiring Manager/Supervisor (template below)
      • SSN Letter from DSO/PDSO
    • CPT Documents
      • CPT Endorsed I-20
    • OPT Documents
      • OPT endorsed I-20 (you can also apply for an SSN as part of the OPT application process)
  • Contact your local SSA office for an appointment to apply in person. Apply no earlier than 30 days before your scheduled employment start date. Different SSA offices have different COVID-related policy exceptions; some offices accept scanned documents; others may require original documents. Consult your local office for document instructions when you call to make your appointment. SSA office will receive and review your application, then schedule an interview
  • Go to your appointment
  • If all goes well, you should be approved and receive your SSN in the mail
  • Afterward, submit your SSN and any outstanding hiring documents to SFS

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