Getting a U.S. Social Security Number


What is a Social Security number?

It is a nine digit identification number issued by the US government to keep a record of your earnings. It is only assigned to people who are authorized to work in the United States.

How do I apply for a Social Security number?

You must first apply for and obtain an on-campus job in order to apply for a Social Security number. Once you obtain a job, you can follow the steps below:

  1. Obtain a letter from the Human Resources Office that shows evidence that you have secured employment or a promise of employment on-campus
  2. Receive a second letter from the International Office’s Designated School Official
  3. Go to the local Social Security Administration (SSA) Office (the closest location to the SUA campus is listed below). Fill out an Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5). In box 3, check “legal alien allowed to work.”
  4. Bring with you a valid Passport, F-1 Student Visa and Form I-20


Should I ask for a receipt?

Yes, be sure to obtain a receipt stating that you applied for a number, so that you may present it to the Human Resources Office and be able to be paid for your on-campus employment.

How long will it take to get a Social Security number?

SSA must verify your documents and current status with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before they can assign a number to you. If verification is not available through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system within 10 days, SSA will send a manual verification request. This may delay assigning of a number by several weeks or months. If verification is available, you should receive the Social Security card in about 2 weeks.

Do I need to have my Social Security number for any other reason?

If a business or other enterprise asks you for a Social Security number, you can refuse to give it to them. However, that may mean doing without the purchase or service for which your number was requested. For example, a phone company and other services may ask for a Social Security number, but they do not need it. They can do a credit check or identify the person in their records by alternative means. If requested, you should ask why your number is needed, how your number will be used, what law requires you to give your number and what the consequences are if you refuse. The decision is yours. Be careful with your number to prevent its misuse and keep your card in a safe place.

Which SSA Office is nearest to Soka?

Social Security Administration

26051 Acero Road

Mission Viejo, CA 92691

(800) 772-1213