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The Bechtel International Center will be closed on Fridays from June 14th to September 3rd.

Social Security Number (SSN)

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What is a Social Security number (SSN)?

A Social Security number (SSN) is a unique number used to identify residents in the United States. You need an SSN to work in the United States and file taxes. The SSN is valid for life, so you only need to apply once. If you are a new F-1 or J-1 student, wait 30 days after the I-20/DS-2019 program start date before applying for an SSN. If you are a J-1 Scholar, please wait 16 days after submitting the arrival confirmation before applying for an SSN.

Who is eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN)?

  • F-1 students who have on-campus employment, or are receiving fellowships which requires employment or RA/TAships, or working off-campus on OPT or CPT
  • J-1 students, who have a letter of permission to work from their visa sponsor. This could be Stanford or an outside organization, i.e. Fulbright.
  • All J-1 Scholars
  • J-2 spouses with work permission (EAD card)
  • Employees in H-1B, TN or O-1 status

If you are not eligible for an SSN, you may apply for an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number).

Applying for a Social Security Number (SSN)

In order to receive a Social Security Number, you will need to visit a Social Security Office in person. After filing the form-SS-5 online, please schedule an appointment using the online scheduling system.

Once you arrive for your scheduled appointment, check in using the mobile check-in system. Please make sure to have all your original documents with you (listed below) as well as the reference number provided when scheduling the appointment online.

The SSA also accepts walk-in appointments during normal business hours (9 a.m. -4 p.m.)

Please review the list of nearby SSA offices below.

The Social Security Office cannot process your SSN application if your on-campus or CPT work begins more than 30 days from your application/appointment date or the employment start date on your EAD card is a future date.

Social Security Offices

The Mountain View Office 

Areas served:  Mountain View, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Sunnyvale
Address: 701 N. Shoreline Blvd.
1st floor
Mountain View, CA 94043
Phone: 877-319-0161
Fax: 833-950-3371(primary)
Fax: 833-950-3370 (secondary)

The Redwood City Office 

Areas served:East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Redwood City. Address: 601 ALLERTON ST
2ND FLOOR
REDWOOD CITY, CA 94063
Phone: 888-860-5582
Fax: 833-571-0638

The Fremont Office 

Areas served: Fremont and Milpitas
Address: 3100 MOWRY AVE
SUITE 100
FREMONT, CA 94538
Phone: 888-632-7073
Fax: 833-950-3665

Downtown San Jose Office: 

Areas served: Cupertino, Campbell, Los Gatos, Downtown SJ, Santa Clara
Address: 280 S FIRST ST
ROOM 244
SAN JOSE, CA 95113
Phone: 866-331-2235
Fax: 833-902-2630

Documents Required for your SSN Appointment 

Depending on your status as a J-1 or F-1 student, J-1 Scholar or J-2 dependent, or an H-1B employee you will be required to provide different documents during your SSN appointment. Please review the list below to prepare for your SSN appointment. 

F-1 Students

  1. A completed Form SS-5: Application for a Social Security Card
  2. Passport, printed copy of current electronic I-94 arrival record, and current printed I-20
  3. Evidence of SSN eligibility:
    1. EAD card (if on OPT)
    2. I-20 showing unexpired CPT or OPT endorsement for off campus employment
    3. For on campus employment, 2 letters are needed:
      1. A letter from the on-campus employer addressed to the Social Security Administration. The signature on the letter MUST be a wet signature.  No electronic signatures are accepted.
        A sample letter is available here (pdf).
        OR PhD students with a fellowship must have a letter from their department indicating employment stipulations.
      2. A letter from Bechtel confirming your status. You must upload your employment or PhD fellowship letter as part of the request.
        * If you are a new F-1 student, wait 30 days after the I-20 program start date before requesting a letter from Bechtel.

J-1 Students

Required documents:

  1. A completed Form SS-5: Application for a Social Security number.
  2. Passport, printed copy of current electronic I-94 arrival record, and current printed DS-2019
  3. Evidence of SSN eligibility:
    ​1. For off-campus employment, current DS-2019 showing unexpired Academic Training endorsement AND job offer letter from the off-campus employer.
    2. For on campus employment, two letters are needed:
    1. A letter from the on-campus employer addressed to the Social Security Administration
      A sample letter is available here (pdf).
      or

PhD students with a fellowship must have a letter from their department indicating employment stipulations.

  1. A letter from Bechtel confirming your status. You must upload your employment or PhD fellowship letter as part of the request.
    ** If you are a new J-1 student, wait 30 days after the DS-2019 program start date before requesting a letter from Bechtel.

J-1 Students with On-Campus Employment Authorization

Obtain employment authorization from your J-1 visa sponsor (DS-2019 issuing entity). Stanford-sponsored J-1 students can request J-1 On-Campus employment authorization from Bechtel Connect. You must receive this on-campus employment authorization from Bechtel before you start to work and before you apply for the letter from Bechtel.

J-1 Scholars Including Visiting Student Researchers, Postdocs, Visiting Scholars and Fellows

  1. A completed Form SS-5: Application for a Social Security number.
  2. Passport, printed copy of current electronic I-94 arrival record, and current printed DS-2019

When Should You Apply for an SSN: J-1 Scholars 

As a J-1 Scholar, you should apply no earlier than 16 days after your SEVIS record has been validated. Your SEVIS record can only be validated after you have arrived in the U.S. and after you have submitted your Arrival Confirmation webform.

SSN Considerations for J-1 Research Scholars and Short-Term Scholars 

If you are holding a  J-1 visa in the "Research Scholar" or "Short-Term Scholar" categories, you are eligible for an SSN and do not require a letter from the Bechtel International Center to make your application. We strongly recommend that you apply for an SSN even if you do not expect any payment that may require one as you will be required to file taxes and SSN is required for this process. If your VSR fees are being paid by Stanford, you will need an SSN to file taxes.

J-2 Dependents

  1. The SSN application is now part of the EAD application. You cannot apply for a SSN without also applying for an EAD. 

Learn More 

Visit the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Website for More Information 
Social Security Office Locator