F-1 students may apply for an original Social Security Number (SSN) at a Social Security Administration (SSA) field office by submitting a Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card, to SSA, and providing documentary evidence of:

  • Age
  • Identity
  • Work-authorized lawful alien status


Documentation requirements for F-1 and J-1 students

F-1 and J-1 students are subject to special documentation requirements as well as special immigration status verification rules. A F-1 or J-1 applicant must submit the following as part of his or her application for a SSN:

  • A completed Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card
  • Valid passport
  • Form I-94 (arrival/departure card)
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Proof of employment authorization. SSA will issue a SSN only to F-1 and J-1 students who are authorized to be employed in the United States.


On-campus employment

F-1 or J-1 students who apply for an SSN on the basis of on-campus employment must present two documents as proof of employment authorization:

  • Documentation from their on-campus employer, to prove that the student is engaging in, or has secured, specific on-campus employment:
  • VT employers must use the university approved standard employment verification letter available on Payroll's website (in fillable .pdf format)
  • Non-VT on-campus employers (Bookstore, Food court vendors, Foundation, etc) should use this downloadable Word format, copied and pasted into their letterhead.
  • A letter from their DSO - contact IGSS for more information


Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

F-1 students who apply for an SSN on the basis of CPT must present to SSA their Form I-20, properly endorsed by their DSO for Curricular Practical Training. A separate DSO letter, pay stub, or other verification of employment is not needed to establish CPT work authorization.


Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT and off-campus employment for economic necessity require an F-1 student to apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) from DHS. F-1 students who apply for an SSN on the basis of OPT or off-campus employment must present their EAD to SSA.


Working While Awaiting an SSN

An F-1 student may work while the Social Security number application is being processed. Employers may wish to reference SSA's fact sheet, Employer Responsibilities When Hiring Foreign Workers. This fact sheet contains information on how to report wages for an employee who has not yet received an SSN

Contact Us

Talk with an immigration advisor:

Phone: +1 (540) 231-8486
Fax: +1 (540) 231-3714
Email: igss@vt.edu

Mailing Address:

International Graduate Student Services
Graduate Life Center
155 Otey St. NW
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA 24061

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Walk-in Advising Hours

Monday Wednesday & Friday
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Tuesday & Thursday
9 a.m. - 12 p.m.