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Obtaining a Social Security Number

International students in F-1 and J-1 status who have an on-campus position (assistantship or wage employee) are eligible to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN).  Students who have applied for and apporved for Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training are also eligible to apply for an SSN.  


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)


Applying for SSN Helpful Tips

The following documents are required when planning to apply for your SSN:

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, etc.) shoudl provide the same information, but on their complany letterhead, with the company Employer Identification Number (EIN) 

  • Letter from an International Student Advisor or Designated School Official 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 requiring visiting the SSA office. 
  • Students participating in off-campus employment based on severe economic hardship will instead need to show their Employment Authorization Document (EAD). 


Applying for SSN  

To apply for your SSN at this time, you may either go in person or set up and appointment and then go in person. To make an appointment, you may contact the Roanoke SSA at +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 have not yet received an SSN.