• ssn flowchart ver04
    • ssn flowchart ver04

To apply for a US Social Security Number (SSN), you should:

Important Notes

  • Students and J-1 Scholars: Wait 10 business days from the date you attend ISSS orientation before applying for your SSN.
  • Once you receive your Social Security Card (approximately 2-6 weeks via mail) UPDATE the following:
    • Your University records (i.e. the registrar and tax office) 
    • Your personal records (banks, employer, etc.)
    • SCHOLARS: if employed at Penn you must also update your department’s business administrator & Corporate Tax Officer
  • A Social Security Number will only be granted if it is needed for employment purposes. If you are not eligible for an SSN, please review Handling Practical Matters without a Social Security Number

SSN Application Documents

  • Off-Campus Employment
  • For F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT): 
    Note: Your application will not be processed more than 30 days in advance of the CPT employment start date.

    1. I-20, endorsed for CPT
    2. Passport, visa stamp, I-94 card

    For F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT): 
    Note: Your application will not be processed  until the employment start date on the OPT EAD card has been reached

    1. I-20, endorsed for OPT
    2. Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
    3. Passport, visa stamp, I-94 card

    For J-1 Student Academic Training (AT):

    1. ISSS Academic Training Authorization Letter
    2. DS-2019, endorsed for Academic Training
    3. Passport, visa stamp, I-94 card
  • J-1 Scholars
    1. Social Security Letter completed and signed by ISSS
    2. DS-2019
    3. Passport, visa (stamp), I-94 card (if issued paper I-94) or I-94 printout (if issued electronic I-94)
  • H-1B, O -1, TN, and E-3
    1. Social Security Letter completed and signed by ISSS
    2. Employment Offer Letter
    3. Original I-797 Approval (TN and E-3 will only have I-797 if case is processed by USCIS in the US instead obtaining status upon entry to US)
    4. Passport, visa (stamp), I-94 card (if issued paper I-94) or I-94 printout (if issued electronic I-94)

Social Security Card Center for Philadelphia Residents (zip codes: 19101-19160)

  • Address: 2 Penn Center, Suite 2000B, 1500 JFK Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19102 -  view map
  • Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 am – 3:30 pm
  • Website

Handling Practical Matters without a Social Security Number

There are a variety of services you can obtain without having a Social Security Number. PLEASE NOTE: these details are for informational purposes only. Requirements are subject to change without notice.

  • Off-Campus Housing
  • Present the following documents in place of a SSN:

    • A valid passport
    • A letter of acceptance from your school
    • A copy of your I-20/DS-2019 to prove financial resources

    For more information visit the Housing section of this site. 

  • PA Driver's License/State ID
  • Present the following documents in place of a SSN:

    •  A valid passport
    •  I-94 card
    • Visa
    • A letter of denial/indecision from the Philadelphia Social Security Card Center
    • An I-20/DS-2019 with a program end date that is at least one year away
    • A letter from ISSS verifying attendance at the school listed on your I-20/DS-2019
    • Two proofs of residency (see ISSS’s Obtaining a Pennsylvania Driver’s License or ID Card handout)

    For more information consult the PennDOT Fact Sheet and the PA Driver's License section of our site. 
     

  • PECO Energy Company
  • Present the following documents in place of a SSN at 23rd and Market St.:

    • A valid passport
    • A valid Penn ID
  • Cell Phone
  • This is not an exclusive list of cell phone options.

    Provide the following in place of a SSN:

    • Verizon Wireless: $400.00 security deposit (will be returned after one year)
    • AT&T Wireless:
      • Monthly plan: $500.00 security deposit (will be returned after one year); passport, birth certificate, proof of address
      • Prepaid plan: US bank account

    Be sure to contact a representative of the cell phone company for the most up to date information on obtaining a cell phone.

  • Opening a Bank Account
  • This is not an exclusive list of banking options.
    Commerce Bank, Citizens Bank, PNC Bank, Student Federal Credit Union:

    Present the following documents in place of a SSN:

    • A valid passport
    • A valid Penn ID

    Be sure to contact a representative of the bank for the most up to date information on opening an account. For more information on banking visit the Financial Matters section of our site.