Social Security Number

Applying for a Social Security Number (SSN)

The only way to receive a Social Security Number within Washington State is for the purpose of your employment. This means that you will first need to find paid employment before you can receive this number. Please note that a Social Security Number is mandatory in order for you to get paid. Below are the steps on how to get your Social Security Number.

How to Apply

F-1 Students with On-Campus Employment

To apply for a SSN as an F-1 student for an on-campus job, you will need to provide documents that show your identity, age, citizenship, and status as a lawful alien. You will need to bring the following items with you to a Social Security Office:

  • Passport
  • Current I-20 with signature on page two
  • Printout of I-94 (available through the I-94 website)
  • Letter from the ISC describing why you need a SSN (instructions on how to request this letter listed below)
  • Letter from your supervisor (employer) on department letterhead stating your job title and signed by your supervisor
  • Complete an application form (Form SS-5) that you must fill out at the SSA office or download from the internet. This form is not available at the ISC.


Once your application is filed with the SS office, they will give you a receipt. They will perform a background check, and your Social Security card will be mailed to the address you provide within four to six weeks. Normal processing takes about four weeks.

Requesting an SSN Letter from the ISC

  • Provide a digital copy of a letter (on official letterhead) from your employer that states:
    • Your job title
    • Your supervisor name and role
    • The number of hours you will be working
    • Your start date
  • Update your contact info on MySeattleU
    • We will be checking this information before issuing a letter

After gathering all documents, electronically submit the Letter Request via ISC email or directly to your immigration advisor via email. Your advisor will email the letter to you.

F-1 Students Authorized for Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

To apply for a SSN as an F-1 student for an authorized paid CPT position, you will need to provide documents that show your identity, age, citizenship, and status as a lawful alien. You can apply as early as 30 days before your scheduled start date, but no earlier. You will need to bring the following items with you: 

  • Passport
  • Current I-20 (updated and endorsed for practical training)
  • Printout of I-94 (available through the I-94 website)
  • Letter from your supervisor (employer) on department letterhead stating your job title and signed by your supervisor
  • Complete an application form (Form SS-5) that you must fill out at the SSA office or download from the internet. This form is not available at the ISC.

F-1 Students Authorized for Optional Practical Training (OPT)

To apply for a SSN as an F-1 student for an authorized OPT position, you will need to provide documents that show your identity, age, citizenship, and status as a lawful alien. You can apply on or after the start date on your EAD card, but no earlier than your EAD card start date. You will need to bring the following items with you: 

  • Passport
  • Current I-20 (updated and endorsed for practical training)
  • Printout of I-94 (available through the I-94 website)
  • Letter from your supervisor (employer) on department letterhead stating your job title and signed by your supervisor
  • Complete an application form (Form SS-5) that you must fill out at the SSA office or download from the internet. This form is not available at the ISC.

What if my card is lost or stolen?

You can replace your card for free if it is lost or stolen. However, you are limited to three replacement cards in a year and 10 during your lifetime. 

To request a replacement card:

  • Complete the application form (Form SS-5)
  • Present recently issued photo identification to show your identity (passport, Washington state identification card)
  • Show evidence of your current lawful nonimmigrant status (visa, I-20/ DS-2019, I-94)
  • Complete a new ISC letter request form (if you are employed on campus) to request a letter from the ISC 

Your replacement card will have the same name and number as your previous card.

How to reach the Social Security Administration (SSA)

A toll-free number operates from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday at 1-800-772-1213. Recorded information is available 24 hours a day, including weekends and holidays. You can also visit their website at www.ssa.gov for more information.
You must apply for your Social Security Number (SSN) in person. There are several local offices throughout the Seattle area, which are open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (except Federal Holidays).

Below are some of the offices close to Seattle University:

Downtown Seattle Jackson Federal Building
915 2nd Ave, Suite 901 (9th floor)
Phone: (800) 772-1213
Bus routes: 12
North Seattle 13510 Aurora Ave N, Suite B
(Corner of Aurora & NE 135th St)
South Seattle 675 S Lane St, Suite 401
(Corner of 7th Ave & Dearborn St)
Phone: (206) 553-4100
Bellevue 505 106th Ave NE, Suite 301 Park Plaza
(Between NE 4th St & NE 6th St)