Students laying on hammocks on campus.

Social Security Numbers

In order to be paid for either on- or off-campus employment, it is necessary to have a Social Security Number (SSN), but an SSN by itself does not authorize you to begin work. If you are in F-1 or J-1 status, participating in unauthorized employment is a violation of your immigration status. For information regarding employment rules and responsibilities, please visit the Maintaining F-1 Status or Maintaining J-1 Status page.

Process for On-campus Employment

Step 1
Request a Social Security Letter from ISSS.
Step 2
ISSS will contact you when your Social Security Letter is ready for pick-up. At that time, we will also give you an Employment Confirmation Letter to be completed by the office that is hiring you.

Step 3
Get your hiring department to complete and sign the Employment Confirmation Letter.

Step 4
Apply for a Social Security Number.
The following documents are required:
  • You will need to complete a Social Security application form, which can be found on the Social Security Administration’s page or at the SSA office
  • Social Security Letter from ISSS
  • Employment Confirmation Letter from your hiring supervisor
  • A valid passport
  • Form I-20 (with work authorization on the second page if using CPT/OPT) or Form DS-2019 (with work authorization on the first page if using Academic Training)
  • Printout of your electronic I-94 record (or paper I-94, when applicable)
  • Visa that corresponds to your nonimmigrant status (F-1 or J-1) or previous visa and I-797 Approval Notice if you successfully changed status in the United States

Standard processing time for the issuance of a Social Security Number is approximately two weeks, though this could take longer if your application goes through administrative processing. Once processed, a Social Security card with your Social Security Number will be mailed to you. You may not engage in employment until you have received your card and have valid work authorization.

Social Security Administration (SSA)
1-800-772-1213

Recommended Local Office and Hours of Operation
Clifton SSA Office Address: 935 Allwood Rd., Clifton, NJ 07012
Office Hours: Mon., Tues., Thurs., Fri.: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Wed.: 9 a.m – 12 p.m;
Sat. and Sun.: Closed

Step 5
Complete your I-9
Once you receive your Social Security card, visit the Human Resources office to complete your I-9. I-9 processing hours are listed on the Human Resources website. Then inform your immediate supervisor who will be entering your information into the HR employment system.

Process for Off-Campus Employment (CPT, OPT, Academic Training, Severe Economic Hardship Employment)

Step 1
Obtain a letter of employment
The letter of employment must be written on company letterhead and state your position, hours, start date, and end date.
Step 2
Apply to ISSS for CPT, OPT, or Academic Training.
Step 3
Upon Approval
If your application is approved and you receive an updated I-20 (CPT), EAD (OPT or Severe Economic Hardship Employment), or DS-2019 (AT), follow the process described under Step 4 above (under “Process for On-campus Employment”).