The question “How to get the Social Security Number as an international student?” was often asked across different international student groups.

You definitely can apply for the SSN as an F-1 student. The process of applying for the SSN may sound complicated and tedious; however, if you read this carefully, you can apply and get your SSN without wasting time and energy.


Of course, you need to get a job in order to apply for the SSN. But, don’t be afraid of “getting a job”. Because even working on campus as a part-time is eligible to apply for the SSN, therefore, getting a job as an international student is not that hard. If you are looking forward to applying for the SSN, you can find a part-time job on campus first. After finding a job, you need to provide documents that can prove your identity, immigration status, and work eligibility. Let me walk you through all the documents you may need!



  • Prove your identity


Unexpired Passport is definitely the must-have document when you are applying for the SSN as a foreigner. Besides, you may also need to get one of the following documents prepared.

  • I-551 Permanent Resident Card; or
  • I-94 Arrival/Departure Record; or
  • I-766 Employment Authorization Document, (EAD, work permit) from the DHS (Department of Homeland Security)


  1. Prove your immigration status

If you are an F-1 or M-1 student, you must bring your I-20.
If you are a J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor, you must bring your DS-2019.

Besides, you also need one of the following documents to prove your status:

  • I-551 (Lawful Permanent Resident Card, Machine Readable Immigrant Visa); or
  • I-766 (Employment Authorization Document, EAD, work permit); or
  • I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record)
  1. Prove your work eligibility
  • If you are a foreign worker, you need your unexpired foreign passport along with one of the followings,
    • I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record); or
    • I-766 (Employment Authorization Document, EAD, work permit)
  • If you are an F-1 student and eligible to work on campus, you must have:
    • Unexpired I-20 (which can identify you, confirm your current school status)
    • Employment evidence, it can be a letter includes:
      • Your job title
      • Your employment start date
      • The number of hours you are, or will be working; and
      • Your supervisor’s name and telephone number
  • If you are an F-1 student and eligible to work in curricular practical training (CPT), you must have your I-20 with the employment page completed and signed by your designated school official.
  • If you are an F-1 student and have a work permit I-766, you must present.
  • If you are a J-1 student, student intern or international visitor, you must provide a letter from your sponsor. The letter should be on sponsor letterhead with an original signature that authorizes your employment.

Maybe it is still too overwhelming to see these lists, please see the charts below to prepare the required documents. Just bear in mind, bring all the documents you have with you in order to prove your eligibility may the safest and easiest way to obtain the SSN.

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