Social Security Number

What is a Social Security Number?A Social Security Number (SSN) is a 9-digit identification number, assigned by the U.S. government, that is used for tax reporting purposes.

Who is eligible for an SSN?

As an F or J student, you are eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN) ONLY if you have an offer of employment on campus. You cannot apply until you have an actual job offer. Students who have never worked on campus, but who find authorized employment off campus (like CPT or OPT) are also eligible to apply for a SSN. Persons with F-2, H-4, B-1 or B-2 status may not be employed and cannot obtain a SSN.

Why do I need a SSN?

The only situations where you as a non-citizen are legally required to provide a SSN are:

  • For wage and tax reporting purposes
  • For tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

However, banks, apartment owners, telephone companies, and many other businesses will continuously ask you for a SSN even though you may not be eligible for one. Those businesses should be able to provide you the service without a SSN, but if they persist, International Services can write a generic letter explaining why you cannot have a SSN, and requesting that you be given that service.

How do I apply for a SSN?

First, come to ISSS to request a social security letter that you will need to take to the Social Security Administration (SSA) to request a SSN.

How do I request a social security letter from ISSS?

  • Fill out our Social Security Request Form Provide proof of full time enrollment (you can bring a print out from PAWS)
  • Bring your original job offer letter from your employer

Note:  J-1 students sponsored by IIE, Fulbright, Muskie, etc (other than GSU) do not need to request a social security letter from ISSS in order to request a SSN—the letter from your sponsor should suffice.

I have my SSN letter from ISSS now. What do I do next?

You must go to the nearest Social Security Administration (SSA) office and bring the following with you:

  • F-1 Students:
    • For on-campus employment: Valid I-20 form, employer letter, and ISSS letter
    • For CPT employment: Valid I-20, CPT authorization, and employer letter
    • For OPT employment: I-20, OPT authorization, EAD card, and employer letter
  • J-1 Students:  DS-2019 form, work authorization letter from your sponsor
  • J-1 Scholars/Researchers:  DS-2019, employer letter
  • J-2 Students:  DS-2019 for the J-1 student/scholar and J-2 dependent, valid EAD (Employment Authorization Document) from U.S. Citizen & Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • H-1 Students:Â Copy of Form I-797 showing approval of H-1 petition


Please note that your employer letter should include the EIN# (employer identification number). You can get a sample letter for this purpose from ISSS if needed.

In addition, you should wait at least 2 days after you receive your social security letter from ISSS, and at least 10 days after you initially entered the United States in order to request a SSN. This time will allow enough time for the SSA to have access to your immigration information and verify your legal status and employment eligibility.

You should expect to receive your social security card by mail in approximately two-four weeks.

Frequently Asked Questions:

401 W. Peachtree Street, Suite 2860, 28th Floor – Peachtree Summit Federal Building (Accessible via Civic Center MARTA Station), 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. (closed holidays). 404-331-4155 or 800-772-1213
To find a location near you, visit, then click “Find a Social Security Office” in the menu on the left.
Go to Employment in F-1 status for information.
Only after you apply for a social security number will HR be able to start processing your employment paperwork. If your I-20 does not list employment information, you will have to provide them with a receipt for your SSN application. When the SSN card arrives, please bring it to HR as soon as possible to begin receiving payment.

IMPORTANT: If you are told by the SSA that your admission number (I-94 number) has not been put in the system/database, the SSN representative should make photocopies of all your documents and give you a receipt. If you are told to come back or go to USCIS, kindly ask them to verify your immigration status by faxing a request for verification to LOSISV (Los Angeles Immigration Status Verification) unit. Make sure they make copies of your immigration documents for verification. If this happens to you, the SSA office has indicated that it can take up to 90 days to receive your SSN. If denied, request a written denial, and come see us!