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for International Students

Social Security Number


Under current COVID-19 operations, the Social Security Administration has closed its offices throughout the U.S. for walk-in services, and appointments will be required for services. First-time applicants for a Social Security Number (SSN) will need to find their local SS office by entering their ZIP code and call that office, asking to speak with an agent to schedule an application appointment. An appointment will be granted only upon successfully answering pre-qualifying questions, and required original documents must be on hand to answer these questions. 

If you were issued a Social Security card but need to replace a lost card, you may be able to apply for the replacement card online through a SSA online account. If you are not able to complete the replacement Social Security Card application online, you are encouraged to mail the application to your local SS office.   

Please read the Social Security Administration's COVID-19 webpage to learn more.

What is a Social Security Number?

In the U.S., a Social Security number (SSN) is a 9-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents. The number is issued to an individual by the U.S. Social Security Administration, and it is used for taxation and other purposes. Once issued, you have this number for life. 

  • A Social Security Number is NOT the same thing as your SDSU Red ID number.
  • If you want to work in the U.S., you must obtain a SSN.  However, simply getting a SSN does not authorize you to work in the U.S.
  • If you are issued an SSN, the number will not change even if you change employers, states, etc.
  • Keep your Social Security card in a safe place, and keep several copies of it in a safe place to protect your privacy.

Eligibility for SSN

International students: To get a SSN, you must be employed and either working on campus or have work authorization if you are working off campus.


How to get a SSN for On-Campus Employment


How to get a SSN for Off-Campus Employment


Paying Taxes on Your Earnings


What you do NOT need a SSN for:

  • California Driver’s license and ID card
  • SSNs are often used for checking credit, but some companies do not require them.
    • Opening a bank account
    • Purchasing a cell phone plan
    • Renting an apartment

Social Security tax

International students in F-1 and J-1 status are exempt from Social Security tax (FICA). However, they are generally subject to federal and state income taxes.

Document processing time

Please allow 7 business days to process your document request at the ISC. If you have not heard from us or received the signed form after 7 business days, please feel free to contact the ISC.