Social Security Number (SSN)

What is an SSN?

A Social Security Number (SSN) is needed to accurately record your earnings in the United States. Most employees are required to pay a certain percentage of their earnings to the Social Security System through the Federal Insurance Compensation Act (FICA tax). (Some F-1 and J-1 employees are exempt from the FICA tax.)

Do You Need an SSN?

You must have an SSN in order to work in the United States. However, having a Social Security Number/Card does NOT give you authorization to work off-campus.

You only need to apply for an SSN if:

  • you are applying for permission for on-campus employment, OR
  • you are working with F-1/J-1 Practical Training (OPT, CPT, AT) authorization

SSNs are NOT legally needed for:

  • class registration,
  • opening a bank account or cashing a check,
  • applying for a driver’s license, or
  • renting an apartment.

NOTE: some apartment owners may require an SSN at their discretion as part of their housing application, even if it is not legally required.

How Do You Apply for an SSN/card?

Step 1 – Get a Job

The Social Security Administration requires that all F-1 and J-1 students must show proof of employment before they can be issued a Social Security Number. You must be starting an on-campus job, or an CPT/OPT/AT related job, in the near future.

Step 2 – Obtain a letter from International Programs to take to Social Security Administration (SSA) office (for on-campus job)

Go to iValpo and submit the “Social Security Number (SSN) Letter Request” e-form (under the F-1 Student Services tab) to request a SSN letter from International Programs.

Once you submit this e-form, your employer/supervisor will receive a link to verify your employment, and you can expect the letter to be ready for pickup within 3 business days of when your supervisor completes this verification.

NOTE: if you are on CPT or OPT, you do not need the letter from International Programs; your job offer letter will be enough.

Step 3 – Start the application & go to the SSA office

Start your application online by going to Once you complete the online portion, you will need to go into the Valparaiso city Social Security Administration office to show your documents & complete the application. Please take the letter issued to you by the International Programs office (or your job offer letter if you are on CPT or OPT), your I-20 or DS-2019, Passport, and I-94 card to the office. The Valpo branch is located at:

3810 Calumet Ave.
Valparaiso, IN 46383

Phone Number – 888-472-6120

Hours: 9AM-4PM, Mon-Fri (try not to arrive later than 3PM so that your appointment can be completed before closing time)

Step 4 – Your Card

It takes approximately two weeks to process the card. Once you receive your card, you are responsible for completing your Valpo Human Resources paperwork online (the HR office will send you an email with a link to complete it).

If you are on CPT/OPT, you are responsible for filling out any paperwork required by your employer.

For more information on Social Security Administration, click here.

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