Once you have an SSN, you keep the 9 digit number for life. However, you can only apply for a replacement card if you meet the criteria for card issuance (for an F-1 student, this means you must be currently employed). Please keep your social security card in a safe place and be cautious about sharing your SSN because it could be used for identity theft. SSNs are often used for credit checks and background checks.
To obtain a social security number as an F-1 student, follow these steps:
You must have an active record in SEVIS. For new students, your ISS advisor needs to update your SEVIS record from initial to active. If you are a new student and you need to apply for an SSN earlier, please contact your International Student Advisor to make sure your SEVIS record is already active.
Obtain your work authorization and/or complete your employment verification form:
On-campus employment: You can apply for your SSN no earlier than 30 days before your on-campus employment start date. When you have found an on-campus job, you must complete the On-Campus Employment Social Security Verification Form. Once your employer has signed the form, bring it to your ISS advisor for a final signature at the bottom of the form.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT): You can apply for your SSN no earlier than 30 days before your CPT start date. Before you apply, you will need to go through the process with your International Student Advisor to get your CPT approval. CPT authorization on page 2 of your I-20 is proof of your job offer and your work authorization. In addition, ISSS will issue you a letter at the same time as the issuance of your CPT approved I-20.
Optional Practical Training (OPT): The form, I-765, Application for Employment Authorization students file to apply for OPT include questions that allow students to apply for SSN at the same time.
Schedule an appointment at a Social Security Administration office closest to your local address. You can locate an office and the office hours by using the Social Security Office Locator. The closest office to our campus is located near the Tacoma Mall at 2608 S 47th St, Tacoma, WA 98409.
OR I-20 with CPT authorization on page 2+Letter from ISSS OR I-20 plus EAD card showing approved OPT
Experiencing Delay in Receiving SS Card ?
Are you concerned that you applied for a Social Security number but your Social Security Card has not arrived in the mail before first day of your work? Do not worry, the delay is very common!
Did you know the Social Security Administration does not require students to have Social Security Card before they start working? Refer to the following documents from the SS Administration for more details.