If you are sponsored by a third party (such as Fulbright), ISSS cannot assist you with the SSN process — please contact your sponsor for instructions.
In order to be eligible to apply for a Social Security Number you must be:
- In the United States. New students should wait until they've entered the U.S before trying to apply for a Social Security Number
- Have employment/offer of employment: Students in F-1 or J-1 status are not eligible for a Social Security number unless they have an offer of employment. There are no exceptions to this requirement.
Please follow these directions to apply for a social security support letter. The Office of Social Security is the only government office that is requesting a "wet" signature, so you'll need an original letter to apply for the social security card.
- Submit an application for a social security number support letter. You will need to upload a copy of your offer of employment. The letter you submit must have a "wet" signature from your employer. You will take both the "social security number support letter" and your offer of employment to the Office of Social Security.
- Schedule an appointment with ISSS to pick up the letter or pay to have the letter express mailed to you.
- Schedule an appointment with the office of Social Security. The telephone number for the office in Center City is 1-800-772-1213. If you will apply at a different office, find the telephone number at Field Office Locator | SSA
You will then proceed to the office of Social Security on the day of your appointment with the following items:
- Social Security Application form available at https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf.
- Your valid passport with US visa stamp
- I-20 – if you hold F1 status
- DS-2019 if you hold J1 status
- I-94 Admission/Departure Record – see https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html if you don’t have an I-94 card in your passport.
- Letter from our office
- Original Offer of Employment
Students entering the U.S. for the first time in F or J student status should wait until they are in the United States for at least 10 days before applying for an SSN. Transfer students from another U.S. school must first be registered for classes and then in SEVIS by ISSS before applying. If your SEVIS record is not "active" the Social Security office will not be able to verify your status with the USCIS.
It is possible that your SSN will be requested for different activities: banking, utilities, etc. However, we recommend asking if other forms of identification can be used instead of the SSN. Employment is the only time that you should use your SSN.
2 PENN CTR STE 2000A
1500 JFK BLVD 20TH FL
PHILADELPHIA, PA 19102
- Phone number
Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.