Big Data

Social Security

A social insurance program of retirement, disability and survivor benefits.

Social Security was created maintain the basic well-being and protection of the nation’s people. It is run by the United States Social Security Administration, an independent agency of the U.S. federal government.

Social Security Information for F-1 and J-1 Visa Students

You must have an offer of employment for a paid position to be eligible to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN).

Refer to the International Students and Social Security Numbers Guide (PDF) provided by The Social Security Administration to learn more about applying for a SSN. There is no fee to apply for a SSN and processing can take between two weeks to several months.

Application Process

Obtain a Job Offer Letter

Obtain a job offer letter from your employer:

  • On department letter head
  • Addressed to you
  • Signed by the person authorized to hire you
  • Including:
    • Your name, department name, job title, brief job description, start date of job, end date (if applicable), number of hours of work per week, amount of pay, supervisor name and supervisor contact information

Obtain a letter from the Cal Poly International Center

Obtain a letter from the International Center to take with you to the Social Security Office along with your employment offer letter.

If this is a Cal Poly on-campus student job:

  • Submit a copy of your employment offer letter in the Social Security Letter Request Form, found in your International Student Hub

If you are a J-1 student with a Cal Poly on-campus student job offer:

  • Submit the On-Campus Employment Report

    Complete Application Form SS-5

    Complete the Application Form SS-5 (PDF) provided at the Social Security Office or print it out before going to the office.

    • Question 1 of the form “Name To Be Shown on Card”- enter your name exactly as it appears on your passport:
      • First name: First name after the characters “>>” on the bottom of your passport
      • Full Middle name (if applicable): Other name/s after “>>”. No not use initials unless this is how it appears on your passport.
      • Last name (surname): Name/s appearing before the characters “>>” excluding the country code.
      • Do not enter initials for any names unless this is how it appears on your passport.
    • Question 5 – check box for Legal Alien Allowed to Work
    • Question 16 – The card will be mailed to this address

    Submit all documents

    Take the following documents with you to the Social Security Office:

    • Application Form SS-5
    • Employment offer letter
    • International Center letter (on-campus work only)
    • Original I-20 or DS-2019 form
    • I-94 copy (Refer to US Customs and Border Protection to retrieve your I-94 electronically)

    Submitting the application

    Submit your application in person at any Social Security Office.

    The local office is located at:
    3240 S. Higuera Street, San Luis Obispo

    Call (855) 207-4865 to schedule an appointment.