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Social Security

The social security number is used for employment purposes in the United States in order to report wages to the government.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) will issue a social security number for employment purposes only.  If you have problems in establishing a bank account, renting an apartment or opening a cell phone account, see an international student adviser in DISSA.  We can help you find other ways to satisfy the requirement with the agency requesting the number.

The Social Security Administration will require that you prove your identity, age, immigration status, and eligibility to work.  In addition, F-1 students must provide evidence of on-campus employment from the campus department and verification of enrollment status from DISSA.  J-1 students must provide evidence of employment eligibility from the sponsor: if Penn State issued the DS-2019, DISSA will issue the letter; if a programming agency such as IIE or AMIDEAST issued the DS-2019, that agency must issue the letter.

SSA regulations require two letters in addition to the other required documents: one from the hiring department and the other from DISSA.

Along with the social security application, you must present the following documents at the Social Security Administration Office:

  1. I-20 or DS-2019
  2. Passport
  3. I-94 (card or print out)
  4. Letter from DISSA verifying student status, full-time enrollment and eligibility of employment. To request a letter, fill out the request for Social Security letter in iStart. NOTE: DISSA cannot issue this letter until a student is in registered status (which means that the tuition bill is paid).
  5. Letter (see department letter template below) from the on-campus employer on letterhead including:
  • identity of student employee
  • job description
  • anticipated or actual employment start date
  • employer identification number (EIN)—the Penn State EIN is 24-6000376
  • employer contact information, including the telephone number and the name of the F-1 student’s immediate supervisor
  • original signature, signatory’s title, date

Local Social Security Administration Office:
901 University Drive, Suite 2
State College, PA 16801
MONDAY - FRIDAY 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM 
Except Federal Holidays (Beginning Wed, Jan 2, 2013, Social Security offices close at noon on Wednesdays to the public)

Department Letter Template

Students must have on-campus employment verification from the hiring department. The verification must be typed on official school or department letterhead and contain the employer's original signature.

Dear Social Security Administration:
This letter is evidence of on-campus employment for (name of student).

Type of job: ____ (e.g. wait staff, library aide, research assistant, etc.)

Start Date: _____

Number of Hours Per Week: _____

Employer Identification Number (EIN): 24-6000376

Employer Telephone Number: _____

Student's Immediate Supervisor: _____

Employer Signature (Original Signature; no photocopy): _____
Signatory's Name and Title: _____