SSN Application Process

F/J Students: To begin the application process, students must first obtain a job offer and bring the job offer letter to OIS along with the SSN letter request form. In four business days, an OIS support letter will be prepared for the SSN application. It is not possible to obtain an SSN without this letter.

J-1 Scholars: All Exchange Visitors in the research scholar, professor, and short-term scholar categories are eligible to apply for the SSN by right of their J-1 status.

Required documents for SSN Application at the SSA (for F/J Students and J-1 Scholars)

  1. Application for SS-5 (available at a SSA office or online)
  2. Valid Passport
  3. Original SEVIS I-20 (for F-1 visa holders) or DS-2019 (for J-1/J-2 visa holders)
  4. A printout of your I-94 Arrival/Departure record
  5. Proof of employment eligibility (such as a job offer letter, I-20 endorsed for CPT, or Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card, or invitation letter for J-1 Scholars
    • For on-campus employment, the job offer letter requires (NOT required for J-1 Scholars):
      • Name of the F-1/J-1 student employee
      • Description of the employment
      • Anticipated or actual employment start date no more than 30 days in the future at the time of application for an SSN
      • Number of hours the student is expected to work
      • USC’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) which is 95-1642394
      • Name of the F-1/J-1 student’s immediate supervisor and telephone number
      • Original signature with signatory’s title and date
      • Original letters must be typed or written on school letterhead–Sample offer letter template for hiring departments
  6. Social Security Support Letter from OIS (NOT required for J-1 Scholars)

F-1 students applying for OPT: Students can now apply for a SSN when they apply for OPT. Simply indicate on the OPT I-765 form that a SSN is needed (ensure all fields related to SSN is completed) and SSA will issue the SSN once the OPT EAD has been issued.

F-1 students on OPT: Students who did not apply for a SSN when they applied for OPT can apply for a SSN by taking the following original documents to the SSA:

  1. Passport
  2. A printout of the I-94 Arrival/Departure record
  3. OPT I-20
  4. EAD card

Please note: A SSN letter from OIS is not required for students on OPT.

Additional Guidance

  • The application for an SSN is free of charge
  • All documents (except the I-94) must be originals. The SSA does not accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. SSA will then verify the documents with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before assigning a SSN
  • Students and scholars must wait at least 10 days after their initial entry into the U.S to begin the SSN application process. The SSA must receive its database update from the ports of entry before the application can be accepted. Additionally, applications cannot begin more than 30 days before the employment start date
  • J-1 Scholars: Your department must submit the “check-in” to OIS before you apply for a SSN
  • A Social Security number and card will be issued within about two weeks of receiving certification from DHS. In most cases, the SSA can quickly verify the documents online
  • Students and scholars are able to begin paid employment while their SSN application is pending by providing the SSN application receipt to their employer.  The SSA website addresses this here

SSA Office Locations

The closest SSA office from USC University Park Campus:
1122 W. Washington Blvd. (2nd Floor)
Los Angeles, CA 90007


Take Metro Bus 200 from the northeast corner of Hoover St. and Jefferson Blvd. near USC and exit at the intersection of Hoover St. and Washington Blvd.

The closest SSA office from USC Health Sciences Campus:
215 N. Soto Street
Los Angeles, CA 90033
Located one block south of Cesar Chavez