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Obtaining a Social Security Number

International students in F-1 and J-1 status who are currently engaging in or have obtained authorized employment are eligible to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) at a Social Security Administration (SSA) field office. The closest SSA office is located in Roanoke, Virginia, at 612 South Jefferson Street, Suite 100, which is approximately 42 miles (67 km) from campus. Below, you will find information about what documentation is required and how to set up an appointment with the SSA office. 


International students in F-1 and J-1 status are subject to special documentation requirements, as well as special immigration status verification rules, when applying for a Social Security Number (SSN). The following documents are required when planning to apply for your SSN:

  • A completed Form SS-5 (Application for a Social Security Card) 
  • Valid passport and visa 
  • Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) 
  • Valid Form I-20 (F-1) or Form DS-2019 (J-1)
  • Assistantship Contract or Employment Offer Letter 
    • On-Campus VT employers must use the university-approved standard employment verification letter; a pdf template is available on the VT Payroll website.
    • On-Campus Non-VT employers (i.e. the bookstore, dining, etc.) and Off-Campus Employers should provide the same information, but on their personal letterhead, with their personal Employer Identification Number (EIN) listed.
  • Letter from an International Student Advisor in the Cranwell International Center 
    • To request a letter from our office, please submit the Social Security Number Letter Request e-form through the IntlHokies Portal; if you are new student, you must also submit the Immigration Check-In e-form before we will process your SSN letter request. Submitting the check-in e-form allows us to activate your SEVIS record, which is required for the SSA office to process your SSN request. We recommend waiting 3-5 business days after your check-in is approved to visit the SSA office, as there can be a delay in the system updating your status.  

If you are currently in one of the following categories, you will NOT require a letter from your International Student Advisor:

  • Students participating in Curricular Practical Training (CPT) will instead need to show a Form I-20 that has been properly endorsed to show their current CPT authorization. 
  • Students applying to participate in Optional Practical Training (OPT) will instead need to show a Form I-20 that has been properly endorsed to show their current OPT authorization request OR they can simply choose to apply through the OPT application, which does not require an appointment at an SSA office (highly recommended). 
  • Students participating in off-campus employment based on sever economic hardship will instead need to show their Employment Authorization Document (EAD). 



To apply for your SSN at this time, please contact the SSA office in Roanoke for instructions on submitting your application and providing documents, as they are on a modified appointment-only schedule at this time due to COVID-19. Their phone number is +1.866.701.8179. When you call, you will be asked to provide your contact information (name, phone number, address) and a SSA manager will contact you by phone to make an appointment within one week, so it is very important that you make sure your phone's voicemail is set up or you risk missing their call. 

Don't have a car to make it to your appointment? You can catch the SmartWay Bus to Roanoke, which drops you off at a stop that is just a few blocks from the SSA office. 



F-1 student may begin working after they have submitted their SSN application to the SSA. Employers may wish to reference SSA's fact sheet, Employer Responsibilities When Hiring Foreign Workers, if they have questions about this. This fact sheet contains information on how to report wages for an employee who has not yet received an SSN.