Any student who accepts and engages in employment must apply for a Social Security Number (SSN).
The SSN is intended only for use in relation to employment in the U.S. It is a taxpayer identification number. The SSN does not represent permission to work nor is it proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent residence.
Please Note: If you are a new student you should wait 7-10 business days after arriving in the U.S. and receiving an approval letter from our office regarding the completed processing of your Immigration Document Review before applying for an SSN. This allows time for arrival data from the port of entry and SEVIS to be entered in the primary system that the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses to validate authorization.
If you are an F-1 or J-1 visa holder but are not employed, you are not eligible to apply for an SSN.
Applying for a Social Security Number
Overview — Details follow below
These steps can only be completed following appropriate arrival in the U.S. and completion of IDR. Please read the detailed instructions that follow.
- Receive Letter of Employment
- Request a Status Verification Letter
- Apply for an SSN at the Social Security Administration (SSA); get a receipt for this
- Give your employer the receipt from the SSA so you can begin work
- When your Social Security card arrives, contact the CSU Foreign Tax Office
1. Letter of Employment
To be obtained from your prospective on-campus employer.
- The employment letter must be on CSU department letterhead and signed with wet ink (emails and electronic signatures do not qualify)
- Include the following information:
- Student’s full name (must match name on passport)
- Position (job) title
- Employment start date
- Number of hours per week (must not exceed 20 hours/week)
- Supervisor’s full name and phone number
- Employer’s wet ink signature (electronic, copied or scanned signatures do not qualify)
2. Status Verification Letter
To be obtained from ISSS.
The SSA requires CSU to verify your immigration status and eligibility to apply for an SSN by issuing a Status Verification Letter.
All students must be enrolled full time for the semester to be eligible for this letter, unless they have an approved Reduced Credit Load on file.
Click the image button below to request your Status Verification Letter.
You will need to upload a scan of your Letter of Employment from Step 1 above.
3. Apply at the Social Security Administration (SSA)
- Complete the application for an SSN (Form SS-5) before going to the SSA.
- On item #5, select “legal alien allowed to work.”
- On items #9b/10b, leave blank if not applicable.
- Prepare these:
- Letter of Employment with an original wet ink signature
- Status Verification Letter from ISSS with an original wet ink signature
- Form SS-5 (completed ahead of time)
- Current I-20 or DS-2019 (hard copy original)
- Valid passport
- Current I-94
- Valid U.S.-government issued identification, such as an unexpired visa, driver’s license, or state ID card (required to get into the building)
- Go to the Social Security Administration office (see below for local address and hours).
- Apply for your Social Security Number
- Request a receipt or a letter of verification confirming that you have applied for your SSN.
- It can take 2-4 weeks to receive your Social Security Card by mail, and the receipt will be used by your employer’s payroll department.
If you have any questions about applying for your Social Security Number please do not hesitate to contact ISSS at ISSS@colostate.edu or (970) 491-5917.
Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
SSA Location and Contact
301 S Howes Street, 4th Floor (masks currently required on the 4th floor)
Fort Collins, CO 80521
(In the same government building as the U.S. Post Office)
Corner of S Howes Street and W. Olive Street
*Please note that because the Social Security Administration is located inside a federal building, you will need to bring a U.S. government-issued ID, go through a metal detector, and have your bag inspected. Examples of U.S. government-issued IDs include an unexpired U.S. visa, a Colorado driver’s license, or a Colorado state ID. Your passport will not work because it is not issued by the U.S. government, and your visa cannot be used for this purpose if it is expired.
4. Give your employer the receipt from the SSA
5. When your Social Security card arrives…
After receiving the Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA): Students must contact Foreign Tax Office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to complete a GLACIER international tax profile.
GLACIER is used to help determine tax residency and treaty benefit eligibility and proper employment taxation. The employing department (not the employee) may request a temporary Payroll Control Number (PCN) from the Foreign Tax Office if it is critical that the employee be set up in Oracle prior to receipt of the SSN.
- The PCN is temporary and CANNOT be used as an SSN for payroll reporting purposes.
- The employing department must obtain a receipt (copy of SSA’s letter) as proof that the SSN has been applied for and must provide a copy of the letter to Foreign Tax prior to receiving a PC.
- After GLACIER is completed and tax forms have been submitted to Foreign Tax, the Foreign Tax Office will notify HR Records to change the PCN to the employee’s SSN in Oracle.
- Typically, social security cards are received within four to eight weeks of applying. It’s possible and encouraged for the new hire to return to SSA 24 hours after applying to receive their number, while waiting for the card to arrive in the mail.
If the employee provides the SSN to the employing department, the department should ensure they have completed all required steps with Foreign Tax. This is a critical step in the onboarding process for all Foreign National employees.
If the employee does not provide their SSN to Foreign Tax, by completing GLACIER, within 60 days of their hire date, they may not continue to work.
Students also must contact email@example.com when OPT or CPT work authorization has been granted. After receiving an updated copy of the I-20, Foreign Tax will remove the student’s work hours restriction in Oracle.
Campus Employers can access the Hiring International Students page for more information on this process.
- F-1 and J-1 visa students may work on-campus up to 20 hours total per week during the academic year and unlimited hours on-campus when classes are not in session.
- J-1 students must have their employment authorized in SEVIS and get an authorization letter from ISSS before beginning employment.
- Protect your identity by keeping your Social Security Card in a locked, safe place.
- Do not give your SSN to just anyone. Employers, tax agencies (IRS, tax accountants), CSU, and banks are some of the few organizations that might legitimately request your SSN. The IRS will not call you and request your SSN over the phone. If this happens, it is likely a scam. If anyone requests your SSN that you are unsure of, please contact our office and we will help you confirm the organizations legitimacy, if possible. When in doubt, don’t hand it out.
- United States employees pay 7.65% “F.I.C.A.” tax, which includes the Social Security and Medicare taxes. The employer automatically withholds it from the employee paycheck. If you are paid, you will have this tax withheld unless you are tax exempt due to your immigration status. J-1 and F-1 students should not have the Social Security or Medicare taxes withheld if they have been in the United States for less than five calendar years. In order to ensure exemption from these obligations, CSU employees must contact the Foreign Tax Office as soon as they receive their Social Security Number.