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. It is NOT employment authorization.

F and J students are eligible for a SSN.

  • F1 students must have a 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.

Non-US citizens who are legally employed are required to provide a SSN:

  • 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 typically ask you for a SSN even though you may not be eligible for one. Those businesses should be able to provide you services without a SSN. If they persist, ISSS can write a generic letter explaining why you are not eligible for a SSN and therefore, why they should not deny you their service.

  • F1 students: need two (2) SSN support letters. One will come from your employer, and the other from ISSS.
  • Take the required letters to the Social Security Administration (SSA) office to request a free SSN.  It will be mailed to your local address in the U.S. in about 2 weeks.

  • Login to iStart and complete the e-form called “SSN Letter Request”.
  • If you are unfamiliar with iStart, watch the“Introducing iStart” 
  • ISSS will verify enrollment, lawful presence and other information before processing your SSN Letter request.

Go to the nearest Social Security Administration (SSA) office. To find the nearest location, click here.

Bring the following with you:

Passport, I-94 Card, and completed Form SS-5 available on the SSA website at

  • For on-campus employment: Valid I-20 form, employer letter, and ISSS letter
  • For CPT employment: Valid I-20, CPT authorization, employer letter, and ISSS letter
  • For OPT employment: I-20, OPT authorization, EAD card, employer letter, and ISSS letter

Please Be Aware:

  • Your employment offer letter should include the EIN# (employer identification number). You can get a sample letter for this purpose from ISSS if needed.
  • Wait at least 10 days after you initially entered the United States in order to request a SSN. This will allow enough time for the SSA to have access to your immigration information and verify your legal status and employment eligibility.
  • There is no cost to apply for a SSN. After submitting the application, the SSN card will arrive by mail in approximately two-four weeks at your local address in the US.

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). 866-931-9946.
To find a location near you, visit, then click "Office Locater" in the menu on the on the bottom right.


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!