Social Security Number FAQs

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Do I need a Social Security Number?

If you will be working on-campus, receiving a fellowship or stipend or if you are a J-1 scholar, then it is necessary for you to obtain a Social Security Number.

I do not have a job, I am not receiving a fellowship or stipend and I am not a J-1 scholar. Can I still get a Social Security Number?

If you do not plan to work on campus or have a fellowship or stipend, you are unfortunately not eligible for a social security number. 

We understand that it may be beneficial for you to have a social security number in order to purchase a cell phone, rent an apartment, buy a car, or apply for a credit card.  Although these services do not officially require a social security number, company policy may dictate the need for the SSN.

When can I apply for a Social Security Number?

International Students can apply for a Social Security Number 14 days after their initial or most recent entry to the United States in their current status.

International Students can apply for a Social Security Number only after obtaining a job offer.  This may seem counter-intuitive: You need a Social Security Number before you can begin work, yet you need an offer of employment before applying for a Social Security Number.  Employers are aware of this fact and understand that you will not be able to begin work until after you have obtained a Social Security Number.

An SSN cannot be issued for On-Campus Employment or for authorized CPT if the start date for the employment is more than 30 days into the future.

Individuals applying for an SSN based on an approved EAD card (such as F-1 OPT or J-2 work permission) may not apply if the valid from (start) date of the EAD card is in the future.

What documents do I need in order to apply for a Social Security Number?

The Social Security Administration requires International Students to present the following documents when applying for a Social Security Number:

Valid Passport, and I-20 or DS-2019


Proof of Offer of Employment and Proof of Eligibility of Employment


If you have a paper Form I-94, bring a copy of the front and back of the card, as well as the original


If you were issued an Electronic I-94, print it from www.cbp.gov/I94

What is a Proof of Offer of Employment?

International students who obtain on-campus non-fellowship funded employment, must first  ask their employer to complete the International Student Employment Form.  The completed International Student Employment form will serve as Proof of Offer of Employment for students with on-campus non-fellowship funded jobs. 

International students who have fellowship funded positions can present their admission letter which specifies terms of their fellowship as proof of employment.

International students who find off-campus employment (CPT, OPT or Academic Training) positions must obtain an Intent to Hire letter from their employer.

What is Proof of Eligibility of Employment?

After you have found a job and have Proof of Offer of Employment, the ISSO can prepare a social security number letter which details your student status and your eligibility to work in the United States.  This letter is your Proof of Eligibility of Employment. 

The ISSO will only give social security number letters to students who have provided Proof of Offer of Employment to our office.

If I am eligible, how can I request a SSN Letter/Proof of Eligibility of Employment from ISSO?

You can request a social security in person by visiting the ISSO. Once the letter is completed, you will be contacted via email to claim your letter.  You must come to the office with your Proof of Offer of Employment before we will release the social security letter to you.  Also, you must be enrolled full-time AND you must be in the U.S. for at least 14 days prior to your last entry.  No exceptions will be made.

If I am eligible, how do I obtain my Social Security Number?

Here are the steps that International Students who are eligible for a SSN must take in order to obtain an SSN:

    Step 1: Get a job and ask your employer for a Proof of Offer of Employment.
    Step 2: Request SSN Letter from the ISSO.  This letter will serve as Proof of Eligibility of Employment.
    Step 3: Find out more about SSNs by visiting the Social Security Administrations web site.
    Step 4: Go to the local Social Security Administration Office (135 Beaver Street in Waltham) with your application and required documents to apply.