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How To Apply for Social Security Number (SSN)

A Social Security Number (SSN) is issued to track earnings over a worker’s lifetime. The Social Security Number itself is not a work permit.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will only issue Social Security Numbers to F-1 student visa holders or J-1 Exchange Visitors who have an on-campus job or have a firm promise of a job on-campus which will begin in the near future, to those students authorized for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), or those with an EAD card issued for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Economic Necessity.

If you do not have a job or commitment of a job, you will not be issued a Social Security Number. Social Security will not accept applications more than 30 days in advance of the employment start date.

All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. For those who have applied for an EAD card (DHS employment authorization document), the card itself must be presented; an application or receipt is not acceptable.

To apply for a Social Security number, you must visit this website and submit the online form. 

1. In the form under documents, select only the following items: valid passport, I-20, and I-94. Make sure you bring original copies of these when you visit the Social Security Administration office.

2. After completing the online form, the website will generate a document that includes a unique ID.

3. Visit the closest Social Security Administration office and bring the required documents:
  • Document that shows you have submitted the online form, which includes the unique ID
  • Valid Passport
  • Electronic I-94 print out (
  • I-20 (or DS-2019)
  • Evidence of employment status, EAD card, or
  • Certification of full-time enrollment and eligibility for on-campus employment from HR and signed by an International Student Services Advisor. Students on J visas need to get this letter from their sponsor. Students approved for CPT who will be working off-campus can use the employer offer letter as a substitute for a letter from the International Programs Office. Students on OPT will only need their EAD cards with a starting date of no more than 30 days in the future.

Starting Monday, April 24th, 2023, the nearest office to The University of Tampa is no longer at Frontage Road, it is now located 23 minutes from campus in North Tampa. For Hartline Bus Users it would take at least 1 hour: Take Bus #14 at S Howard St and W Horation St, get off 27 stops later at Armenia Av and Rambla, and take Bus #39 at Busch Blvd and Armenia Av and get off 6 stops later at Gunn Hwy and Premier North Dr, then walk to 4010 Gunn Highway.

Address: 4010 Gunn Highway, Suite 100, Tampa, FL 33618
Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.; Wednesday 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Top Tips For Visiting This Office
1. Make An Appointment - Do not just show up at your social security office. Without an appointment, you will more than likely have a long wait.

2. How to make an appointment - Call 1-800-772-1213 (or the local office number 1-855-433-5873) between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Call the phone number as early as possible or after 6pm. When the office is open, a representative will give you a callback. Set up your appointment.

3. Bring Necessary Documentation - When you are on the phone with the representative, make sure you ask them what forms you will need to bring to your appointment. This will prevent you from having to come back again if you forget your documentation. Here are some documents you may need to bring: US birth certificate, US passport, Social Security Card, etc

4. Bring A List Of Questions You Need Answered - This will make it easier for you to deal with a time-constrained social security representative. Make sure all of your questions get answered.

5. Arrive Early - If you cannot make an appointment, the best way to be seen is to arrive at the office early. Arrive just before 9am.

Since all persons seeking cards must be verified by immigration authorities, there will be a delay before getting your card. If you are a new student and recently arrived in the U.S., you must wait at least 14 days after arriving in the U.S. and at least 2 days after you have completed your New International Student Check-In request with the International Programs Office AND your SEVIS immigration record has been registered to "active" status before going to a Social Security Office (source here). You cannot begin on-campus employment before getting the Social Security card. If you have not received your card within 3 weeks of applying, you should contact the Social Security Office where you applied to inquire as to the delay.