Social security numbers are a unique number, primarily issued to individuals for tax purposes. International students are not automatically eligible for social security numbers. However, students who obtain U.S. job offers may apply for a social security number at the Social Security Administration (SSA). Students may apply for a social security number (SSN) up to 30 days before the start date of their employment.
On-campus employers should provide students with a job offer letter formatted like this sample letter . The student should then bring his/her offer letter to the ISSS. An advisor will provide the student with an additional verification letter. The student should take both letters, his/her passport, I-94 card, and I-20 or DS-2019 to the SSA to complete the application for a social security number. Generally, it can take up to two weeks to receive the actual social security card. In the interim, these students may begin their work on-campus for a limited amount of time with a temporary ID. Please contact an HR representative for more information. Please be aware that the SSA must verify the student’s status prior to issuing the number; the ISSS counsels that students who have just arrived to begin their studies must wait until after the start of classes to apply for an SSN to ensure there are no problems.
Students with off-campus offers should be prepared to show proof of their work authorization in addition to their passport, I-94 card, and I-20 or DS-2019 when applying at the Social Security Administration. No letter is needed from the ISSS.
The Social Security Administration provides further information  on employers’ responsibilities when hiring foreign workers.
Students who will receive payment from the university i.e. fellowships but are not actually working in the U.S. are ineligible for a social security number. These students should apply for and receive an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or ITIN instead. Please contact Human Resources for questions.
Occasionally students can claim dependents on their tax return. In that situation, the ITIN is used to identify the dependents of the person filing a tax return.