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
To apply for an SSN from the SSA, you must provide the following documents along with your I-20/DS-2019, passport, visa, and I-94:
- Letter of employment (issued by your employer and signed with an original signature)
- Status verification letter from ISSS (signed with an original signature)
- Social Security Application Form (SS-5)
- Valid U.S. government-issued identification to get into the building (i.e., unexpired visa, driver’s license, or state ID card)
Letter of Employment
- 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)
Status Verification Letter from International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS)
The SSA requires CSU to verify your immigration status and eligibility to apply for an SSN by issuing a letter of status verification.
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.
If you are a new student to CSU, you will need to complete the Immigration Document Review before the letter of verification can be issued.
Submitting Your Application to the Social Security Administration (SSA)
- Complete the application for an SSN (Form SS-5) before going to the SSA. This form is available on the SSA website.
- On item #5, select “legal alien allowed to work.”
- On items #9b/10b, leave blank if not applicable.
- Go to the Social Security Administration office (see below for local address and hours).
- Bring the following documents with you to the SSA:
- 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 (either a card or the printout)
- Valid U.S.-government issued identification, such as an unexpired visa, driver’s license, or state ID card (required to get into the building)
- When you submit your application to the SSA, request a receipt or a letter of verification indicating 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 helpful to your employer’s payroll department.
- Once you receive your Social Security card, please contact the Foreign Tax Office at BFS_ForeignTax@mail.colostate.edu and they will provide you with a link to an information form for you to fill out. The information you provide will help determine your tax residency and treaty status so that Foreign Tax Office can assist you with completing the remaining payroll forms required for your new assignment.
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.
Social Security Administration Office
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
Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
*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.
- 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.