Employment

Employment for F-1 and J-1 students is limited, and working without permission is a violation of status and a deportable offense. F-1 and J-1 students may not work off campus without written permission from International Student and Scholar Advising (ISSA). On-campus employment is permitted with certain restrictions. J-1 students must request permission for on-campus employment via iStart. A Social Security number is required for anyone receiving payment. ISSA can assist you with this process.

ISSA offers workshops every semester that explain the different types of off-campus work permission available to F-1 and J-1 students.

Social Security Number for International Students

Getting a Social Security Number (SSN)

J-1 Scholars

Overview

SSN Requirements

How to Apply for an SSN

Sample Employment Verification Letter

 

J-1 Scholars

If you are a J-1 scholar, this information does not apply to you. Please review the J-1 scholar information on how to apply for a Social Security Number. 

 

Overview

The social security number is used for employment purposes in the U.S. and is needed when employers report wages to the government. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will issue a social security number (SSN) to you for employment purposes only.

An SSN is not necessary for:

  • Establishing a bank account
  • Renting an apartment
  • Opening a cell phone account

Note: If you encounter a person who insists on you providing an SSN in the above instances, please have them contact ISSA, so we can advocate on your behalf.

 

SSN Requirements

  • F-1 Students must provide evidence of on-campus employment from the campus department and verification of enrollment status from ISSA.
  • J-1 students must provide evidence of employment eligibility from the sponsor:
    • If Penn State issued the DS-2019, ISSA will issue the letter.
    • If a programming agency, such as IIE or AMIDEAST, issued the DS-2019, that agency must issue the letter.

 

How to Apply

  1. Documents needed:
    • Original I-20 or DS-2019
    • Original passport
    • Most Recent I-94 (http://www.cbp.gov/i94)
    • Letter from ISSA verifying enrollment and immigration status. Request this through the iStart form called Social Security, found under Letter Requests
    • Letter from the on-campus employer on letterhead including the following:
      • Identity of student employee
      • Job description
      • Anticipated or actual employment start date
      • Employer identification number (EIN) -- Penn State’s EIN: 24-6000376
      • Employer contact information, including the telephone number and name of your immediate supervisor
      • Original signature, signatory’s title, date
  2. Submit application online at ssa.gov
    • Recommended by the SSA
    • Offers the option to schedule an appointment
    • Eliminates the need to complete the form SS-5, application for SSN
  3. Copy/screenshot the Online Control Number on the Social Security Administration (SSA) site once your application is complete
  4. Schedule an appointment with the SSA Office
  5. Visit the SSA Office with all of your printed documents. Note: If the application was submitted online, document the control number that was received at the end of the online application process.

 

Local Social Security Administration Office (ask your Campus Contact for the nearest office):

901 University Drive, Suite 2
State College, PA 16801
(814) 238-5035
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 9 AM – 3 PM
Wednesday 9 AM - 12 NOON
Federal Holidays and Other Closings 

 

Sample Employment Verification Letter

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: _____
Date:_____