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Apply for a Social Security Number

A student in F-1 status must have one of the following to apply for a Social Security number:

  1. Evidence of an offer for On-Campus Employment 
  2. Authorization to engage in Curricular Practical Training (CPT) – see page 3 of the Form I-20 
  3. An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by USCIS (United States Citizen & Immigration Services)

If you are in one of these categories, you will need to take the following items to a Social Security Administration (SAA) office to apply for a number:

  1. On-Campus Employment

    - Valid Passport
    - Valid I-94 card
    - Current I-20
    - All previously held I-20 forms
    - Evidence of an employment offer*
    - ISS Letter

    *Your prospective employer on the C.W. Post Campus must complete an Employer Letter (available in the International Student Services office) stating that office’s intent to employ you once you obtain a Social Security number. You must then bring this letter to the ISS, where — within 2 working days — we will prepare another letter demonstrating your status and eligibility as a C.W. Post student. The ISS letter will only be valid for 30 days, so it must be presented to the Social Security Administration immediately after you receive it. SSA will not process an application for a SSN if it is more than 30 days in advance of the scheduled employment start date.

  2. Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

    - Original SEVIS I-20 showing authorization for CPT employment
    - All previously held I-20 forms
    - Valid Passport
    - Valid I-94 card

  3. Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Severe Economic Hardship (SEH)

    - A valid EAD* issued by the DHS
    - Valid passport
    - Valid I-94
    - Current Form I-20
    - All Previously held I-20 forms

    *The employment start date on the EAD must already have been reached before SSA will process the application for a SSN.

We recommend you apply for a number at the Social Security office closest to where you live – the closest office to C.W. Post, which is accessible by taking the Long Island Rail Road: 211 Station Rd. 5th Floor, Mineola, NY 11501, Open Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The SSA must confirm your status with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and it may take a few weeks before a Social Security number is issued to you. If the SSA is unable to confirm your Status with DHS, they will refuse to issue you a number. Sometimes it is only a matter of time before DHS updates their database with your record, you can reapply at a later date; others, there is little that can be done. Should the SSA deny your application, insist on getting a letter from them explaining the refusal and bring it to the ISS.

Be aware that having a Social Security number does not authorize employment. In fact, the card issued to you will read “valid for work only with the USCIS authorization” because only the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may grant employment authorization. Once this number is issued, it will serve the purpose of tracking your income for tax purposes. The Social Security Administration Web site is also a useful resource: