Skip to content Skip to navigation

Social Security Number

Update on Social Security Application Processing during the Pandemic

Bechtel International Center has recently communicated with the Social Security Administration (SSA) in the Bay Area.  SSA has requested that Bechel submit a list of international students and scholars on campus who need a social security number (SSN). Anyone who does not have a SSN and is eligible for one can now request an in-office appointment with the SSA through Bechtel International Center. Please fill out this form with all the required information, and we will contact you with the date and time of your appointment. The SSA has asked students and scholars not to call their offices for a status update. If you currently live in a city or area that is outside of the Mountain View field office’s jurisdiction, SSA will be re-directing your information to the SSA office within the Bay Area covering your residential location to contact you for an in-office appointment.

Please know that there are significant delays with appointments and your wait may be about 5 weeks.

Students: The SSA now accepts digitally issued I-20s but please be sure to print out your most recently issued digital I-20, sign the bottom of page one with blue ink and bring it with you to the appointment. Regarding the job offer letter from the employer, the SSA does need a hard copy/wet signature. The SSA will not accept an unsigned job offer letter from the employer. In addition, you cannot apply for a SSN more than 30 days before the start date of employment.

Please note that although Bechtel is providing the SSA with your information, our role is not one of an intermediary beyond this service. We cannot provide updates on the appointment or assist with the application process.

If you have any questions about the form, please contact Yoanna at ygfederici@stanford.edu

Please see information below for the application process.

Make an appointment with the Social Security Office

What is a Social Security number (SSN)?

  • A Social Security number (SSN) is used by employers and employees for the purpose of reporting individual employee earnings for tax purposes only.
  • The SSN is valid for life, so you only need to apply once.

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 sponsor. This could be Stanford or an outside organization, i.e. Fulbright.
  • 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.  
  • 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 a social security number, you may apply for an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number).

Please go in person to apply for your Social Security number. Though the SSN application allows for mailing, we do not recommend it as you would need to mail in your original passport.

Location of Social Security offices

Mountain View:

701 N. Shoreline Blvd. Ist floor, Mountain View, CA 94043
Phone: 1-800-772-1213

Redwood City:

601 Allerton Street, Second floor, Redwood City, CA 94063
Phone: 1-800-772-1213

Find more information and office hours.

F-1 Students

Required documents:

  1. A completed Form SS-5: Application for a Social Security Card
  2. Passport, copy of current electronic I-94 arrival record, and current 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
        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, copy of current electronic I-94 arrival record, and current 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*, 2 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.
    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 J-1 student wait 30 days after the I-20 program start date before requesting a letter from Bechtel.

*J-1 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. NOTE: 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 and Postdocs

You should not apply 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.

Those holding a J-1 visa in the "research scholar" or "short term scholar" categories are eligible for an SSN and do not require a letter from the International Center to make their application. We strongly recommend that you apply for an SSN even if you do not expect any payment that may require one. If your fees are being paid by Stanford, you will need an SSN to file taxes. There have been numerous instances where J-1 scholars discover they require an SSN to file tax forms after the completion of their program. Unfortunately at that point, they are no longer eligible for an SSN nor does there seem to be an alternative. 

Required documents:

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

J-2 Dependents

Required Documents:

  1. A completed Form SS-5: Application for a Social Security number.
  2. Immigration documents: valid passport, electronic I-94 arrival record, and your DS-2019
  3. Employment Authorization Card