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Eligibility for Social Security Number

Only international students and scholars authorized to work in the United States by the Department of Homeland Security can get a Social Security Number (SSN).

New students MUST wait to apply for a Social Security card until they register for classes and their record is activated in SEVIS. This usually happens two weeks after the start of the semester. If you apply before your record is activated your application will be rejected.

The table below summarizes SSN eligibility and requirements:

 Immigration Status          Am I eligible?         Requirements
 F-1 Enrolled  Students  Maybe  You have paid on-campus employment or CPT work authorization for a paid position, and  are registered for classes.
 F-2 dependents are not eligible.
 F-1 Students on  OPT  Maybe  Must have USCIS Employment Authorization Document
 J-1 Students  Maybe  You have on-campus employment and written work authorization letter from your  Responsible Officer
 J-1 Scholars  Yes  -
 J-2 Dependents  Maybe  You have USCIS work authorization


Students can only work on campus. For more information regarding work authorization, on or off campus, visit our employment page.

Students who are not eligible for a Social Security card will still be able to open a bank account, buy a cell phone and accomplish other tasks where a Social Security card might be asked for. If you are not eligible for a Social Security card, you can ask the Social Security Administration office for a Letter of Ineligibility.

Students who are not eligible for a Social Security card but are required to report scholarship income to the U.S. Internal Revenue Authority (IRS) can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). More Information on the ITIN can be found online.

Steps to apply for a Social Security Number
Frequently Asked Questions

If, after looking over the resources linked above, you have any questions, contact International Student and Scholar Services at

Last Updated: 8/22/19