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Social Security Number

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a unique, 9-digit number used for taxpayer identification, income reporting, and record-keeping purposes. The Social Security Administration (SSA) issues the SSN.

You may apply for a Social Security Number if you are employed in the United States. Once issued, the number is valid for one's lifetime. If you are not employed, you may apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Please click here for more information on ITIN numbers.

Many services require an SSN.

Social Security Letter for F-1 Students

Items to take to apply for your Social Security Number:

  1. Passport
  2. I-94 card (Print a copy at cbp.gov/i94)
  3. Form I-20 or DS-2019
  4. Downloaded & Completed Letter
  5. Completed copy of Form SS5, which can be picked up at Office of International Affairs or downloaded at ssa.gov/online/ss-5.pdf

You will not be able to get a SSN if one of the above items is missing. An application for a new SSN will be accepted from 9 a.m to 4 p.m Monday – Friday. We recommend arriving early in the day. You must wait at least 10 business days from the date on your I-94 card to apply for your social security number.

You may take the #2 COTA bus on High Street south to downtown Columbus. Ask the bus driver to let you off at the bus stop nearest 200 N. High St.

If you are working at OSU and receive payments, once you receive your permanent SSN, provide a copy of your Social Security card to the Office of the Controller by mail, fax or in person: Office of the Controller, 2nd Floor Blankenship Hall, 901 Woody Hayes Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43201-1189, Fax: (614) 688-3640. You will also need to provide a copy of the card to the Human Resources Officer for the department with which you are working.

Students must also go in person with their Social Security card to the Registrar's office to update their Social Security number in the student database.

Social Security Letter for F-1 Fellowship Students

Items to take to apply for your Social Security Number:

  1. Passport
  2. I-94 card (Print a copy at cbp.gov/i94)
  3. Form I-20 or DS-2019
  4. Downloaded & Completed Letter
  5. Completed copy of Form SS5, which can be picked up at Office of International Affairs or downloaded at ssa.gov/online/ss-5.pdf

You WILL NOT be able to get a SSN if one of the above items is missing. An application for a new SSN will be accepted from 9 a.m to 4 p.m Monday – Friday. We recommend arriving early in the day. You must wait at least 10 business days from the date on your I-94 card to apply for your social security number.

If you do not have a car or someone to drive you to the Social Security Administration office, take the #2 COTA bus on High Street south to downtown Columbus. Ask the bus driver to let you off at the bus stop nearest 200 N. High St.

If you are working at OSU and receive payments, once you receive your permanent SSN, provide a copy of your Social Security card to the Office of the Controller by mail, fax or in person: Office of the Controller, 2nd Floor Blankenship Hall, 901 Woody Hayes Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43201-1189, Fax: (614) 688-3640. You will also need to provide a copy of the card to the Human Resources Officer for the department with which you are working.

Students must also go in person with their Social Security card to the Registrar's office to update their Social Security number in the student database.

Fellowship Students

Social Security Applications for Students on CPT/OPT

Once you are authorized for CPT or OPT, you are not required to fill out the employment authorization form. You will need to bring the following documents to the Social Security Administration Office (200 N. High Street) to apply for your card:

CPT: Passport, I-94, CPT endorsed I-20, and your offer letter from your employer in addition to the Form SS5 (ssa.gov/online/ss-5.pdf)

OPT: Passport, I-94, OPT endorsed I-20, EAD card, and your offer letter from your employer in addition to the Form SS5 (ssa.gov/online/ss-5.pdf)


Instructions for filling out letter

Because fellowship students traditionally do not work, it is important to note on the letter that this is an exception, and that included in this fellowship is a research or other work component. Under "Nature of Student's Job," if the position is formally listed as a "fellowship," it is important to add "fellowship with a research component" or “fellowship with a work component." This will clarify any confusion which Social Security Administration may have about a student's eligibility to apply for a SSN.

Under "Number of Hours/Week," the number of hours the fellow is realistically expected to work should be listed. Typically, this amount should be no less than 5 hours per week. If it is, you should consult with an International Affairs coordinator advisor.

Before an International Affairs coordinator will sign the SSN letter, we will need to see your fellowship offer letter that states you have a required research component for which you are being compensated.