Social Security Requirements for International Students

Social Security Number Requirements

International students who are interested in seeking employment on campus or who have off campus work authorization (CPT/OPT/AT) must apply for a Social Security Number before employment begins. The process of getting a Social Security Number (or SSN) may take a few weeks because Social Security offices are also required to do security checks on all international applicants prior to issuing a number.

After you have a job offer on campus, or CPT/OPT/AT permission, you will need to request a Social Security support letter from the Office of Global Initiatives prior to going to the Social Security Administration Office in Spokane. In order for OGI to issue a letter, we need an original letter from your employer including the following information: job title, short description of duties, employment start date, number of hours per week you will be working, and your supervisor’s name and telephone number. This letter must be signed by your supervisor and be on letterhead/stationary.

Those in F-2 status (dependents of F-1 students) are not eligible for employment nor may they apply for a social security number. International Students requesting Social Security Numbers for purposes other than employment will not be issued numbers. Renting an apartment or purchasing a cell phone are NOT valid reasons for requesting a Social Security Number.

International students with valid F-1 visas are not required to pay social security tax and Medicare tax if they have been in the U.S. for less than 5 years. International students working at EWU should visit the Payroll Office in Showalter 319 with their passport and visa to verify your social security exempt status as soon as employment begins.

Visiting the Social Security Office in Spokane

Suite 100
714 N. Ironbridge Way
Spokane, WA 99202
Phone: 1.800.772.1213

Spokane Social Security Office Office Hours:

  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 9am - 4pm
  • Wednesday: 9am - 12pm
  • Saturday, Sunday: Closed

Things to Take With You:

  1. Social Security Letter from Global Student & Scholar Services
  2. Original employment letter with signature
  3. A completed Application for a Social Security Card (PDF)
  4. Your passport, visa, and 1-94 card or printout (or Employment Authorization Document for OPT)
  5. Your I-20 or DS-2019
  6. J-1 students also need an Employment Authorization letter from an A/RO in Global Student & Scholar Services

How to Find the Social Security Office by Bus

  1. Take STA Bus Route #66 to the Downtown Plaza.
  2. Transfer to STA Bus Route #29, which boards in loading zone 5.
  3. Request a stop at Perry Street and get off the bus.
  4. Walk two blocks north on Perry Street (which will turn into Ironbridge Way) until you reach building number 714 on N. Ironbridge Way. The building is at the end of the street and will be on your right.

Protecting Your Social Security Number

Your Social Security Number is confidential. You should be careful about sharing your number with anyone who asks for it (even when you are provided with a benefit or service). Your Social Security Number is valid for your entire life. Once it is issued it is difficult to get a new Social Security Number, so it is important to protect it. Social Security Numbers are identification numbers that are used in many ways. Protect your Social Security Number by not giving it out unnecessarily. If you are asked to give your Social Security Number, ask why it is needed and if they are required by law to have it. Do not give your number to anyone, except when authorized by law. You are required to give your Social Security Number to your employer and certain banking institutions.

For more information, visit the U.S. Social Security Administration website.