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Social Security Numbers for F-1 and J-1 Students

Additional Application Materials

Since employment is not necessarily required of all academic programs, F-1 and J-1 students must document their intention to work during the SSN application process. This requires either an additional letter of eligibility or evidence of off-campus work permission.

Certification of valid immigration status and SSN eligibility vary by your immigration category. You must bring one of the following documents, along with the application form and original immigration documents, in order to apply for your Social Security Number.

F-1 Students

Bring one of the following:

  • Verification of F-1 On-Campus Employment letter (signed by the University’s hiring department and ISO)
  • I-20 showing ISO authorization for Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • EAD card issued by USCIS for authorized Optional Practical Training (OPT)

J-1 Students

Bring one of the following:

  • Social Security Eligibility letter (issued by ISO or other J-1 program sponsor)
  • DS-2019 and ISO authorization letter for academic training

Verification of On-Campus Employment

F-1 Students

To satisfy SSN eligibility requirements for F-1 students, ISO has developed the Verification Letter for F-1 On-Campus Employment (PDF) for University departments to document on-campus employment.

Students must request this letter from their University hiring department and obtain a certification signature from ISO to document their SSN eligibility.

The employer must complete the top portion of this letter with the relevant information, including the nature of the student’s job, anticipated start date, and hours per week (maximum 20 during the academic year). This is a fillable form so details can be input prior to printing.

The letter must be printed on the University department’s letterhead and signed in blue ink. Departments should forward a separate letter for each new student directly to ISO before the student’s arrival. Alternatively, departments can send the letter to our office when the current student obtains a new campus job.

Once we verify the student's immigration status, ISO staff will sign the bottom portion of this letter and distribute to the student before they apply for the SSN.

J-1 Students

To satisfy SSN eligibility requirements for J-1 students sponsored by the University of Rochester, ISO issues a Social Security eligibility letter for matriculated students. Non-matriculated J-1 students must be employed at the University in order for ISO to issue an SSN eligibility letter. Students may contact ISO to request this letter.

If your immigration sponsor is not the University of Rochester, please reach out to your immigration sponsor to request a Social Security eligibility letter. Note: Students in J-1 status must also request from their immigration sponsor additional work authorization  to work on-campus in advance of their employment start date.

Help with SSN Application and University Departments

When appropriate information is available, ISO can help monitor your pending application with the US Social Security Administration (SSA) and coordinate with University offices on required document copies.

To take advantage of this, you will need to list ISO as your mailing address on the SS-5 application form and supply a copy of your SSN receipt to ISO as soon as it is available. You may choose whether to stop in the ISO to provide a copy or send the receipt by email, fax, or intercampus mail.

Focus Group Participants

F-1 students who are invited to participate in a paid University focus group are eligible to apply for the Social Security Number through this employment.

You are required to attend an SSN information session with ISO to complete required paperwork associated with the employment and application process. You may NOT pick up your SSN eligibility letter until you have attended one of these sessions, which are scheduled through your school.

You are also required to use ISO as your mailing address for the SSN card. Once your SSN is issued, you must attend the focus group and are responsible for cashing or depositing your payment for this job.

Fall SSN Enumeration Event

Our office usually schedules a special session with the Social Security Administration for new University of Rochester international students each fall. Round-trip transportation may be provided from the River Campus and required certification letters are available on-site.

If you are eligible for an SSN and would like to take advantage of this service, details will be provided during your International Student Orientation.

If you choose to apply on your own, you must determine your eligibility and pick up the certification from ISO. You must then visit the local SSA office during regular office hours. Learn more about applying for your SSN.