A printable copy of this information and a sample job offer letter for your employer can be found here.
What is a Social Security Number (SSN)?
If you have income from a U.S. source, you will need an SSN. It is an identification number for tax reporting purposes. The SSN can also be used as a reference number to check an individual's credit history.
Once you are assigned an SSN, the number is your identification number in the U.S. as long as you are in the U.S. Even if you leave the U.S. and return later, you will continue to have the same SSN. Since your SSN does not change, your credit history also remains with you. It is very important to protect your SSN.
Not every student needs an SSN. You can only apply for a SSN after you get a job. Please remember: F-1 and J-1 students may only work on campus up to 20 hours per week. Off-campus employment requires special authorization. Click here for more information about employment for international students, and contact the Office of International Services before applying for any off-campus employment.
Do I need a SSN to open a bank account, apply for a driver license, or sign a lease?
While some representatives will automatically ask you for your SSN, you will simply need to tell the representative that you are an international student and are not allowed by the U.S. government to have a number unless you are employed.
You can obtain letter from the Social Security Administration stating that you do not have an SSN. Keep this letter in a place that you can use it again if asked in the future about your SSN. To obtain this letter, bring the following to an SSA office:
How do I apply for a SSN?
Step 1. Submit on-campus job offer letter, assistantship, or off-campus employment letter to the front desk at the Office of International Services.
Step 2. Pick up (2) letters from the Office of International Services: your employment letter and a letter signed by a your International Counselor.
Step 3. Take the following documents to one of the Social Security Administration offices:
Social Security Administration (SSA) office locations:
1. 717 N. 16th Street, 63103 (16th Street and Delmar, directly across from the City Museum)
2. 4365 Chippewa, 63116 (South St. Louis)
3. 5669 Delmar Blvd, 63112 (2 miles north of Forest Park)
4. 1215 Fern Ridge Parkway, Suite 100, 63141 (Creve Coeur)
5. Additional locations can be found by entering your address here.
Hours may vary by location, but typical SSA hours of operation are:
Monday 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Tuesday 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Wednesday 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Thursday 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Friday 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
NOTE: The length of time to receive your SSN ranges from two weeks to more than a month depending upon how long the SSA may take to verify your documents. Please be sure to obtain a receipt or letter from the SSA when you submit your application - this will allow you to begin working right away while you wait to receive your SSN in the mail.
For more information, check out the U.S. government's site about Social Security Numbers for international students.