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International Students & Social Security Numbers

Are you an international student in the United States attending a college or other school with an F-1, M-1, or J-1 student classification? If so, your school may be asking for your Social Security number. Some of the schools and colleges in the U.S. use Social Security numbers as student identification numbers. “But what if I don’t have a Social Security number, what do I do?”

If you do not have a Social Security number, our advice is to find out if your college or school can issue you another identification number as this is the common method for handling such issues. Essentially, Social Security numbers are assigned to individuals who are legally authorized to work in the U.S. This is because Social Security numbers are used for the following purposes:

  • To report a worker’s wages to the U.S. government.
  • To determine if a worker is eligible for Social Security benefits, such as retirement and disability benefits.

“Can Social Security issue me a number so I can enroll in the college or school of my choice?” Unfortunately, no, Social Security does not issue Social Security numbers to foreign students just so they can enroll in a vocational school, or a school of higher learning.

Suppose you wish to get a job on campus. In that case, our advice is to contact your school and find out which school official handles such matters for international students. This school official will be able to tell you if you meet the qualifications to work on campus, and if so, which jobs are available on campus. Some students qualify for off-campus employment, providing it’s allowed under the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) regulations.

Note: It is possible that you are authorized to work on or off-campus. If you do, and you meet the eligibility requirements, you may qualify for a Social Security number. As a general rule, noncitizens can apply for a Social Security number only when they have the DHS’ permission to work.

Are you eligible to work in the United States? To find out, contact our Plano immigration firm today!