A Social Security number (SSN) serves as the major identification number in the U.S. You will find that many places of business will ask for your social security number as a way to identify who you are or to verify your account with them. J-1 students should contact IIE to get more information about the SSN application process. If you are an F-1 student, you do not qualify for an SSN until you have been offered employment for which you are being paid. The application process for an SSN is quite easy, and once you are assigned a number, you will maintain the same SSN for life. Don’t worry if you do not qualify for an SSN; it is not required to open a bank account, obtain a driver’s license, or get a cell phone.
How To Apply for a Social Security Number
If you are an F-1 international student hired for an on-campus job you will need to obtain a Social Security number (SSN) in order to get paid. As an F-1 student you are allowed to work a maximum of 20 hours per week while school is in session and full-time during winter and summer breaks.
Once you have been offered employment, follow the steps below to apply for an SSN.
1. Obtain an Employer’s Letter on SFAI letterhead from the department that employs you (see sample letter below).
2.Bring your Employer’s Letter to the Global Programs Office. You will then receive an additional letter needed for the SSN application.
3. Complete the Social Security application form SS-5 available from the Social Security website (also available at any Social Security office).
4. Submit your application in person at the Social Security Administration’s office along with the two SFAI letters, your passport, your I-20, and your I-94 card. Be sure to request a written verification receipt of your application.
5. Bring your written verification to the SFAI Human Resources Office.
6. Wait approximately two to four weeks for your Social Security card to arrive in the mail.
7. Present your Social Security card to SFAI Human Resources for review.
8. Keep your original Social Security card for your records in a safe place. SFAI does not recommend that you carry your Social Security card in your wallet. Instead you should memorize your number and only carry your card as needed. Be cautious about who you give your SSN to as it is a primary tool used in identity theft.
Please note: The Social Security Administration cannot process your application if your on-campus work begins more than 30 days from your application date.
Social Security Offices in San Francisco
560 Kearny Street
(between California & Sacramento)
San Francisco, CA 94108
90 7th St. Annex 1stFloor
(between Mission & Market)
San Francisco, CA 94103
1098 Valencia St.
(between 22ndSt. & Hill)
San Francisco, CA 94110
F-1 Student Employer’s Letter
F-1 students are required to present a job offer letter from their employer along with all other required documents at the time of application. Ask your on-campus employer to write the following letter for you. Bring this letter to the Global Programs Office to obtain the second required letter.
Sample F-1 Student Employer’s Letter
[Use SFAI Letterhead]
[Date—currentwithin last 30 days]
To Whom It May Concern:
This letter is to certify that [student’s name] is enrolled as a full-time student pursuing a [degree level] in [major] at the San Francisco Art Institute.
[Student’s name] will be working [full-time / part-time] at [name of employer].[His/her] job will be to [describe job].[His/her] employment start date is [date].
For additional information, please contact the student’s supervisor, [name of supervisor] at [telephone number].
[Name of Author]