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Social Security Number

A Social Security number is a unique, identifiable number assigned to an individual for tax purposes. If you have income from a U.S. source, you will need a Social Security number.

Once you have a Social Security number, the number is unique to you forever. If you leave the country and return at a later date, you will have the same number. It is very important to protect your Social Security number.

Download a Printable Copy of This Information and a Sample Job Offer Letter

Do I Need a Social Security Number?

Not every international student needs a Social Security number; you can only apply for one after you are offered a job. Depending on your visa, international students are only eligible for certain types of employment. If you have any questions, please contact the Office of International Services.

You do not need a Social Security number to open a bank account, apply for a driver’s license or sign a lease. While some representatives may ask for one, you can tell the representative that you are an international student and are not given a number unless you are employed.  

You can obtain a letter from the Social Security Administration stating that you do not have a Social Security number. Keep this letter in a place that you can use it again if asked in the future about your Social Security number. To obtain this letter, bring the following to a Social Security Administration office:

Applying for a Social Security Number

Step 1. Submit your employment or assistantship letter to the front desk at the Office of International Services. The letter must follow the required format and be printed on department or company letterhead.

Step 2. Pick up two letters from the Office of International Services: your employment letter and a letter signed by a your international adviser.

Step 3. Take the following documents to one of the Social Security Administration offices:

  • The job offer letter from your employer
  • The letter from the Office of International Services
  • Your passport, I-20 or DS-2019, and I-94 information
  • Copies of your passport, F-1/J-1 visa, I-94 information, and I-20 (Pages one and three)
  • Your SLU ID card
  • A completed Form SS-5

Find a Social Security Administration office near you. It may take more than a month to process your documents and assign your Social Security number. Ask for a receipt from the Social Security Administration when you submit your application — this will allow you to begin working while you wait for your Social Security number.

More Information about Social Security Numbers for International Students