Social Security Numbers
Social Security is a program to which all American citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) who work must contribute. It is also used as an important means of identification. International students do not have to pay Social Security or Medicare taxes, but students who work on campus or are eligible to work off campus will need to apply for a social security number.
All international students requesting a social security number must have their passport, I-20 and 1-94 documents, and a "job offer" letter from the school or the employer when applying for the Social Security card. Use your name as it appears on your passport to avoid any confusion at a later date. It might take up to 8 weeks to receive your card after applying for it. Having or not having a Social Security card does not indicate whether a person is authorized to work. Social Security cards for non-immigrants are stamped "Not Valid for Employment," which means that the Social Security Office does not have the authority to authorize employment. Only the USCIS can authorize non-immigrant employments. The Social Security card stamped "Not Valid for Employment" will not prevent you from being employed as long as USCIS has authorized your employment.
NOTE: If you were awarded on-campus employment as a part of your financial aid package, then you will need a U.S. Social Security number before you can start your on-campus employment. You will not be able to apply for a U.S. Social Security number until after you arrive on campus. Once you have applied for the Social Security number, it often takes one to two months of processing time.