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). However, most F-1 and J-1 employees are usually 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 applying for permission for Practical Training (OPT, CPT, AT).

SSNs are NOT needed for:

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

How Do You Apply for an SSN/card?

Step 1 – Get a Job

The Social Security Administration now 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 related job, in the near future. If your job is on-campus, get this form (PDF) signed by your on-campus employer.

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

Go to this e-form to request a SSN letter from International Programs. You can expect the letter to be ready for pickup in 2 to 3 business days. 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 – Go to the Social Security Administration

The appointment at the SSN Valparaiso office can be taken by calling at: (888).472.6120 from 9 AM – 4 PM. Please take the special letter issued to you, on the appointment day, by the international advisor (or your job offer letter if you are on CPT or OPT), your I-20 or DS-2019, Passport, and I-94 card to Social Security Administration office. The Valparaiso branch is located at:

3810 Calumet Ave.
Valparaiso, IN 46383

Note: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, please plan ahead of time, once you have the job letter and the other documents ready with you, for getting the appointment at the SSN office due to low staffing issues.

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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