How to Apply for a Social Security Number

Partially covered Social Security Card

In the U.S., a Social Security number (SSN) is a nine-digit number used to report your wages to the government and to determine eligibility for Social Security benefits. If you are employed in the U.S., you need a Social Security number to work.

  • Students in F-1 status are eligible for Social Security numbers as long as they have obtained an on-campus job. F-1 students automatically have permission to work on-campus.
  • Students in J-1 status are eligible for Social Security numbers as long as they have obtained an on-campus job. J-1 students do not automatically have permission to work on campus and must request authorization from ISSS. Students in J-1 status seeking on-campus work authorization, please submit a request in Interlink.

A SSN is not needed to obtain an Ohio driver’s license or Ohio state ID.

Application Requirements

Current Miami F-1 or J-1 Students

  1. Be registered at Miami full-time
    • Undergraduate students: 12 credits
    • Graduate students: 9 credits
  2. Be employed or have an offer of employment
    • If you are not currently employed, you may search for on campus jobs at Student Employment.

Current J-1 Scholars

J-1 scholars who are in the Professor or Research Scholar category are eligible for an SSN, even if they are not employed by Miami University. Note that it should not be necessary to apply for an SSN if you are not employed, but you are eligible to do so if you wish. In reviewing the application materials below, note that scholars do not need the ISSS Letter of Eligibility.

Application Materials

The Social Security Administration requires the following items in order to apply for a Social Security Number:

  • Valid Passport
  • Visa (Exception: students from Canada and Bermuda are not required to have a visa)
  • Entry stamp in passport and I-94 information.
  • Current I-20 or DS-2019
  • Job Offer Letter from Miami (include one of the following)
    • Confirmation of Student Appointment Letter
    • Graduate Assistantship Contract
    • Appointment Letter from Academic Personnel
  • ISSS Letter of Eligibility (required only for students)
    • Go to InterLink
    • Log in using your Miami Unique ID and password
    • Complete the e-form “Social Security Eligibility Letter Request”
    • ISSS will send the letter to you via email.
  • Complete the Form SS-5. Please note that this form must be signed in ink.

Other issues to consider

  • Due to SSA policy, you may not apply more than 30 days before the employment start date.
  • If you are a new student, you should delay applying for a social security number until at least two weeks into the semester or two weeks after your arrival in the U.S, whichever is later, to avoid denial from the Social Security Administration.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a Social Security Number to start working?

No, you do not need a Social Security Number before you start working. In fact, you cannot apply until you have a job. Once you receive a job offer you can apply for your Social Security Number.

I’m on approved CPT, OPT, or Academic Training—do I need a Social Security eligibility letter?

No, you do not. You should show your work authorization document.

Location of Social Security Administration

Please note: due to COVID-19, you must call to schedule an in-office appointment to apply for a Social Security Number. Appontment availability is based on available staff and office operating status, so do not expect appointments to be immediately available.


The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not have an office in Oxford. International students planning to apply for the social security number on their own should visit the Hamilton, OH office in located at:

6553 Winford Avenue
Hamilton, OH
Phone: 1-888-862-3585
Accepting calls Monday through Friday 9am-5pm

Other offices

Franklin Ohio: 3715 Towne Blvd,Franklin, OH 45005
Phone: 1-877-457-1738

Dayton, Ohio: Federal Bldg, 200 W 2nd St, Room 209, Dayton, OH 45402
Phone: 1-888-329-5724

Cincinnati, Ohio: 550 Main St, Room 2-960, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Phone: 1-866-593-1519

Travel to SSA

  • By private vehicle.
  • By taxi. Please visit the Transportation Page on Miami’s website and go to “Taxi Service” for a listing of local taxi companies or services that will pick up customer where required.
  • By public transit. Butler County Regional Transit Authority (BCRTA) is free with the Miami student ID card. While there is no direct bus line from Oxford to the SSA office in Hamilton, consult the BCRTA website for current routes and schedules to connect through transfer.