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Social Security Number

In the United States, citizens are given a Social Security Number at birth. This number is a unique identifier. When a citizen works in the US, it is used to pay taxes. Non-immigrants such as International Students are allowed to work in US and will need to pay taxes and file an annual tax return. Your social security card is good from the time you receive it, for as long as you are in the US or if you ever return to the US. Protect it as you would your passport. This is the number one piece of information criminals can use to steal your identity.

social security sample

Steps to obtain a Social Security Card

  1. Have an offer of employment from an eligible US employer.
  2. Receive an employment letter from employer and from DSO and an updated I-20 in the case of CPT or OPT.
  3. Go to a US Social Security Administration office, along with your passport, I-20, I-94, school ID and letters.

Social Security Administration
203 South Walnut St.
Florence, AL 35630
(855) 884-3407


Applications for Social Security Numbers (SSN)
The Social Security Administration (SSA) compares the names shown on:

  • SSN application (for example, the Form SS-5)
  • Form I-20/DS-2019
  • Foreign passport
  • SAVE (see below)
SSA uses the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program to verify an applicant’s current immigration status before issuing the SSN card. It is important that your student information be up-to-date in the SEVIS system (which makes I-20s) so that the information is correct when it is shared with the SAVE system.
A social security number or card is NOT authorization to work. Look at the card. Notice that it says “valid for work only with DHS authorization.” In this instance, your DSO in International Affairs is your contact person for DHS authorization. Even with a SSN, you must work only and always in authorized employment. Always ask before beginning a new job or volunteer position.