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Social Security Information

Getting a Social Security Number

Overview

A Social Security number (SSN) is issued to track earnings over a worker’s lifetime. The SSN itself is not a work permit. When you get an SSN, you can use that number for your lifetime.

If you work in the U.S., you must be sure you have work authorization and must apply for an SSN.

Eligibility

To get an SSN, you must show the Social Security Administration that you:

A Social Security number is not required to obtain a driver’s license, cell phone, credit card, insurance, admission to an academic institution, or other “non-work” related reasons. 

How to Apply

F-1 Students with On-Campus Employment

  1. Collect your on-campus employment letter from UD's Human Resources Department
  2. Collect your SSN Support Letter from UD's International Student Services Office
  3. Complete the social security number application online
  4. Visit your local Social Security Administration (SSA) Office (within 45 days of completing your online SSA application)

When you visit the SSA Office, you will finish the process and share your documents. You must visit the SSA office and show your documentation within 45 calendar days of when you completed your online application.

Be sure to take your:

  • Original on-campus employment letter
  • Original SSN Support Letter from ISS
  • Form I-20
  • Valid passport (along with old passport if it contains your F-1 visa)
  • I-94 record https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/
  • Confirmation that you completed the SS-5 online

F-1 Students Authorized for Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

  1. Complete the social security number application online
  2. Visit your local Social Security Administration (SSA) Office (within 45 days of completing your online SSA application)

When you visit the SSA Office, you will finish the process and share your documents. Apply no earlier than 30 days before your scheduled employment start date.

Be sure to take your:

  • Form I-20 with CPT Authorization 
  • Valid passport (along with old passport if it contains your F-1 visa)
  • I-94 record https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/
  • Confirmation that you completed the SS-5 online

F-1 Students Authorized for Optional Practical Training (OPT)

  1. If you do not request an SSN as part of your OPT Application, complete the social security number application online
  2. Visit your local Social Security Administration (SSA) Office (within 45 days of completing your online SSA application)

When you visit the SSA Office, you will finish the process and share your documents. Apply on or after the start date on your OPT EAD card.

Be sure to take your:

  • Form I-20 with OPT Approved
  • Valid passport (along with old passport if it contains your F-1 visa)
  • OPT EAD Card
  • I-94 record https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/
  • Confirmation that you completed the SS-5 online

Helpful Resources

Social Security Number for Non-citizens

Find your local Social Security Administration Office

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get a Social Security number?

The Social Security Administration will mail your number and card as soon as all of your immigration information has been verified. It usually takes 2-4 weeks.

Can I start working before I receive a Social Security card?

As long as you have work authorization (on-campus work, CPT, or OPT), you can start working without an SSN. Be sure your employer follows the correct instructions for allowing you to begin work without the SSN. The Social Security Administration’s publication, “Foreign Workers and Social Security Numbers,” has additional information. However, it is always encouraged that you apply for the SSN as soon as possible after getting your job offer. If you forget to apply, this will cause problems later with tax filing.