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Social Security Number (SSN)

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 been approved for Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training are also eligible to apply for a 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)

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.) should 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). 

To apply for your SSN, you will need to bring your complete application and required documentation in-person to your closest Social Security Administration Office. For Blacksburg area students, the closest office is in Roanoke. If you do not have a car, you can catch the SmartWay Bus to Roanoke. There is a stop just a few blocks from the SSA Office.

For D.C. area students, there are several social security offices. Use the Social Security Office Locator tool to find the closest office near your home zip code.

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.

For more information about obtaining a Social Security Number while on F-1 visa status, review the information on SSNs on the Study in the States website.