How to Get a Social Security Number (SSN)

A Social Security number (SSN) is issued to track earnings over a worker’s lifetime. Students holding F-1 and J-1 status who are employed in the U.S. must apply for a Social Security number. Dependents in F-2 status are not eligible for a Social Security number.

Students who will not work on campus but who receive a taxable scholarship can apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) for tax purposes.

To assign you a Social Security number, the Social Security Administration requires evidence that you:

  • are eligible to work in the U.S.
  • are a full-time student
  • have received a formal offer of on-campus employment or
  • have been authorized for off-campus employment through Curricular Practical Training, Optional Practical Training, or Academic Training

A Social Security number is not required to obtain a driver’s license, cell phone, credit card, insurance, admission to an academic institution or other “non-work” reasons.

The Social Security Administration must also verify your immigration documents and status with Immigration before issuing the Social Security number. New students may not apply for an SSN earlier than 10 business days after arriving in the U.S. The Social Security number itself is not a work permit.

The Social Security Administration office in Winona is located at Choate Building/STE 307, 53 E Third Street, Winona, MN 55987. The local phone number is 1.877.600.2853.


Application Process

The application process for a Social Security Number is a little different if you intend to work on campus or off campus. If you have questions, please contact International Services at is@winona.edu.

You may also find these resources useful:

How to Apply

  1. Register for full time credits. Full time is 12 credits for undergraduates and 6 credits for graduate students.
  2. Get an Employment Letter signed by your employer or Student Payroll
  3. Bring your Employment Letter to International Student and Scholar Services for verification
  4. Apply in person at a local Social Security Administration office

At the Social Security Administration Office

Apply no earlier than 30 days before your scheduled employment start date. Bring the following documents with you:

  • Completed and signed Employment letter
  • Valid passport
  • Form I-20
  • I-94 card or a copy of your F-1 admission stamp in your passport and a printout of your electronic I-94 information
  • Completed Form SS-5 (PDF)

Apply for a Social Security number in person at a local Social Security Administration office.

Apply no earlier than 30 days before your scheduled employment start date. Be sure to bring with you:

  • Form I-20 (updated and endorsed for practical training)
  • Valid passport I-94 card or a copy of your F-1 admission stamp in your passport and a printout of your electronic I-94 information
  • Completed Form SS-5 (PDF)

Apply for a Social Security number in person at a local Social Security Administration office. Apply on or after the start date on your EAD card.

Bring with you:

  • Form I-20 (updated and endorsed for practical training)
  • Valid passport I-94 card or a copy of your F-1 admission stamp in your passport and a printout of your electronic I-94 information
  • EAD card
  • Completed Form SS-5 (PDF)