Social Security

Applying for a US Social Security Number
The SSN Application

Complete and print the Social Security Card Application (Form SS-5)

Apply at the Social Security Card Center

Apply at the Social Security Card Center and ask for a receipt to verify your submission

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

Click on the titles below to view what documents you will need to apply for a Social Security Number.

  1. Social Security: On-Campus Work Authorization for F-1 and J-1 Students

    • F-1 and J-1 students seeking a SSN for on-campus employment are required to complete the form.

    • You will complete Part A, while the hiring department will complete Parts B and C.

    • Bring the form to ISSS and request Part D to be completed, and it will typically be ready the next business day for you to pick up.

  2. I-20 or DS-2019

  3. Passport, visa stamp, printout of I-94 record

  4. Letter from On-Campus Employer (optional)

  5. Additional Documents for J-1 Students

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, printout of I-94 record

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, printout of I-94 record

For J-1 Student Academic Training (AT):

  1. ISSS Academic Training Authorization Letter

  2. DS-2019, endorsed for Academic Training

  3. Passport, visa stamp,printout of I-94 record

  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 printout of I-94 record (if issued electronic I-94)

  1. Social Security Letter completed and signed by ISSS

  2. DS-2019

  3. Passport, visa (stamp), printout of I-94 record


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.

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. 

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. 

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

  • 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. 

Present the following documents in place of a SSN at PECO's office located at 23rd and Market Street:

  • A valid passport

  • A valid Penn ID

Be sure to contact a representative of the cell phone company for the most up to date information on what documents are needed to obtain a cell phone.


Social Security Card Center