Skip over navigation

Steps for International Students Applying for a Social Security Card


International students engaging in an assistantship or other student employment should follow the steps shown below. The Social Security Administration needs to check your visa and U.S. entry records before a card can be issued.

Note:  If you have only just arrived in the U.S. for the first time, please wait at least two weeks from the time of your entry to the U.S. before applying for a Social Security card. Typically it takes the Social Security Administration up to two weeks to access your U.S  entry records. Applying earlier will not speed up the process, but may result in a notification from Social Security that your records could not be verified.

Step 1.) International students will need to first obtain an employment letter from their on-campus employer (PDF) .

Once you receive the employment letter from your on-campus employer, you will need to bring the letter to the OISSS. OISSS needs to keep a copy of the letter on file.

Step 2.) Upon providing the employers’ letter, OISSS will issue a second letter for your social security application.

Step 3.) Take both, your employer’s letter, and the OISSS letter, along with your passport, visa,
I-20 or DS-2019, and I-94 (arrival/departure card) to the Social Security Administration to apply for your social security card.

Social Security Administration
The Federal Building
380 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02903

Step 4.) Apply for the Social Security Card. You will be issued a receipt upon application. Make sure to keep this receipt for your records. The actual social security card will be mailed directly to you by the Social Security Administration within 6-8 weeks.