Can a Student Visa Get a Social Security Number?

Now, it isn’t news that most students have to work.  Such includes international students strapped for cash and who need a way to make ends meet.  As is the modus operandi abroad, all workers must have their social security number to process their payments and taxes. 

Also, foreigners abroad often don’t play by the same rules as the nationals there.  Since international students are foreigners in their country of study, they wonder about the governing laws.  This plight leads to international students asking questions like, ” Am I eligible to get a social security number?”

Key Takeaways

The nine-digit social security number is an identification code issued by the Social Security Administration.  The number has multiple purposes, like tracking individuals and federal taxation.  According to the Social Security Act, the Social Security Number (SSN) is for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary working residents.

Therefore, international students are eligible for SSN based on lawful employment.  However, this applies to students with F1, J1, and M1 visas.  There are four types of SSN cards.  International students’ Social Security Number cards are the restricted type.  It reads “valid for work only with DHS authorization” as proof of having a temporary authorization for work. 

Can You Get Social Security Number With A Student Visa?

The simple answer to this mind bugging question is yes.  However, there are conditions attached.  The SSA cannot issue Social security numbers to just any student.  The reason is that students are neither citizens nor residents but temporary residents.  However, the exception rests on working students.

As working temporary residents, employed students constitute the third category of individuals who can receive SSN.  Also, only working students with F1, J1, and M1 Visas are given social security numbers.  Before your application is processed, the Social Security Administration will request certain evidence.

These are:

  • A valid passport
  • Your immigration documents.  You could use your I-20 form or DS-2019 
  • Proof that you are eligible to work in the USA
  • Evidence that you study full time
  • Proof of a formal letter of employment on your campus
  • Proof that you have employment authorization for off-campus through training.
  • If you’re a J1 student, you’ll have to provide a letter from your sponsor

You have to provide almost all of your documents.  The reason is proof of your identity, work eligibility, and immigrant status.

Types of Student Visas

The kinds of visas with which students can apply for social security numbers have already been mentioned.  These are the F1, J1, and M1 student visas.  However, for clarity, let’s explore each of them on their own. 

F1 Student Visa

This visa permits entrance into the U.S. for full-time students.  The individual in question must be enrolled in a degree, diploma, or certificate awarding course.  The student must be studying at an accredited university, college, seminary, language training program, or institution with an approval to host international students.

Students with this visa cannot receive a permit to work off-campus in their first year.  However, they can engage in three types of off-campus employment from their second year.  These are Curricular Practical Training, Optional Practical Training, and STEM Optional Practical Training Extension. 

M1 Student Visa 

The M1 visa is the kind given to vocational students.  These students must enroll in vocational training programs where they learn non-academic crafts. 

J1 Student Visa 

This visa is also called the exchange visitor visa.  The recipients of this visa are students that partake in work and study exchange programs in the U.S.  Holders of this Bisa can work with authorization, but restrictions apply.  For example, part-time campus work for a maximum of twenty hours weekly is one of such restrictions. 

With this visa, you can get an SSN depending on the period of your stay.  Your study program determines this factor.  If you stay and work long enough, you can apply for an SSN.


Since a Social Security Number is given to temporary workers, international students with part-time jobs can apply.  However, approval to applications for a social security number is for students who have F1, J1, or M1 visas.  International students can apply for SSN at the Social Security Administration as they need to get their SSN within 90 days of resuming work. 

With all the right documents in place, the process will be easier than you can imagine.  Working students should visit the nearest SSA and submit their applications right away!