Employment/Social Security Number for International Students

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 and providing documentary evidence of:

  • Age
  • Identity
  • Work-authorized lawful alien status

The Social Security Administration office closest to Blacksburg is in Roanoke, VA (612 S. Jefferson Str., St. 100). 

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.

New international students must first complete the online immigration check-in with IGSS and have their SEVIS record activated before they can apply for an SSN. Because of a system delay between check-in approval/SEVIS record activation and Social Security Administration receiving the most up-to-date information, you should wait 3-5 days after your check-in is approved by IGSS before applying for an SSN.

Take the following original documents to the SSA office:

  • A completed Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card
  • Valid passport
  • Form I-94 (arrival/departure record) available from the CBP website
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Documentation from your on-campus employer and from IGSS to prove that you are engaging in, or have secured, 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 the same text, copied and pasted into their letterhead, with their own EIN
    • A letter from a DSO:
      • Log into the IntlHokies portal
      • Select Letter Requests
      • Choose Social Security Number Letter Request
      • Complete, sign and submit the e-form
      • You will receive an email when the letter is ready for pick up in 120 GLC.

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.