Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Social Security Administration has re-opened with limited physical walk-in appointments.

Can I start my job or internship before I receive a Social Security Number?

As long as you have authorization from the International Center (on-campus work, Curricular Practical Training, or Optional Practical Training), and you have a pending Social Security Number (SSN) application, you can start working without a SSN. Be sure to check that your employer follows the correct instructions for allowing you to begin work without the SSN. The United States Social Security Administration’s publication, “Foreign Workers and Social Security Numbers,”  has additional information.

A SSN is a unique, nine-digit identification number issued by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA). International students, scholars, and, in some instances, dependents may apply for an SSN if they are legally employed in the U.S.


  • F-1 and J-1 students with an on-campus job offer
    • Full-time enrollment or approved Reduced Course Load required
  • F-1 students on Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT)
    • CPT I-20 or OPT Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card required with start date within 30 days
  • J-1 students on Academic Training
  • J-1 scholars employed by Illinois Tech
  • H-1B workers employed by Illinois Tech
  • J-2 dependents with an EAD

Note: If you are an J-1 student sponsored by the Institute of International Education, Fulbright, or another organization, you must contact the sponsoring organization or institution for instructions on how to apply for an SSN.

F-2, H-4, and TD visa holders are not eligible to apply for a SSN.

Documents to Bring to the SSA Office

  1. Passport with visa (Canadian citizens are visa exempt)
  2. Proof of current status:
    • Form DS-2019, if in J-1 status or Form I-20, if in F-1 status
    • Form I-797, if in H-1B, TN, or O-1 status
    • EAD card, if in J-2, F-1/OPT, or pending Permanent Residency
  3.  I-94 electronic printout or I-94 card
  4. Letter of job offer addressed to you from employer/department
    • F-1/J-1 students with on-campus employment will receive a letter as part of the hiring process
  5. Social Security Application Form