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Social Security Number (SSN)

  • Overview

    The purpose of a Social Security Number (SSN) is to help the government track an individual's earnings in the U.S. for tax purposes. Once you are offered a job, you will need to apply for a SSN from the Social Security Administration (SSA).


    Eligibility for a SSN is based on the offer of paid employment, and regulations require you to provide valid employment offer letter and authorization from VIS or USCIS to apply for a SSN. You must apply for a SSN in person at a Social Security Administration office.

    Any international student accepting employment during their program - whether it is on-campus, off-campus, OPT, STEM, or CPT related - must obtain a SSN.

    You do NOT need an SSN to:
    • Open a bank account. F and J-visa holders do not need a Social Security Number to open a bank account or for most other financial transactions. The bank may ask F and J-visa holders to fill out Internal Revenue Service form W-8BEN to prove that they are exempt from the requirement of providing a Social Security number.
    • Obtain a NYS Driver's License.Although some states require that you have a Social Security number in order to obtain a driver's license, the State of New York does not have such a requirement. Click here for more information on driving in New York state.
    • Rent an apartment
    • Open a utility acount (e.g. electricity or gas)
    • Set up a cell phone 
  • Authorization to Request an SSN

    Authorization to Request an SSN

    In order to receive a Social Security Number (SSN), you must first receive an Authorization Letter from VIS. This requires you to have an offer letter from your employer.

    The letter must meet certain standards or it will be rejected. If your employer needs assistance with writing this letter, please ask them to reach out to us for assistance.

    Step 1: Submit your request in accessVIS
    Step 2: Wait for your employer to confirm your employment
    Step 3: Pick up your SSN Authorization Letter from VIS


  • Applying for an SSN

    Applying for a SSN

    Once you have recieved your SSN Authorization Letter from VIS, you must then apply to get your actual SSN. VIS does not issue SSNs.


    Before visiting the SSA office, it is required to begin the application process on the SSA website (click here)

    Be sure you have the following documents on hand:

    Documents Required for SSN Application On-Campus
    Curricular Practical
    Training (CPT)
    Optional Practical
    Training (OPT/STEM)
    Passport X X X
    Form I-94  X X X
    Form I-20 X X X
    Offer of Employment Letter X X X
    SSN Authorization Letter from VIS X    
    Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card)     X
    Completed SSN Application is required  X X X

     After you submit your online application, you must visit a local SSA office with your documentation within 45 calendar days

    The closest Social Security Office is located at 75 Oak Street, Patchogue, NY 11772.  The phone number is (866) 771-1991.

  • Directions to the SSA Office

    Directions to the Patchogue SSA Office

    Directions by car
    Directions by public bus
  • Important Reminders

    Important Reminders

    • The SSA Office cannot process your SSN application if your on-campus or CPT work begins more than 30 days from your application date.
    • After you submit your online application, you must visit your local SSA office with your documentation within 45 calendar days.
    • You cannot request Social Security Number over the phone, and it can take several weeks to receive the card in the mail. 
    • Social Security fraud is a serious offense. If you are offered on-campus employment and receive a SSN without intending to honor the employment arrangement this may be considered fraud. You must contact your on-campus employer immediately if you are unable to work.

    Additional Resources