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for International Students

Social Security & Taxes

What is SSN? 

In the U.S., a Social Security number (SSN) is a 9-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents. The number is issued to an individual by the U.S. Social Security Administration,  and it is used for taxation and other purposes. Once issued, you have this number for life. 

  • A social security number is NOT the same thing as your student Red ID number (issued by SDSU).
  • If you want to work in the U.S., you must obtain a SSN.  However, simply getting a SSN does not authorize you to work in the U.S.
  • Keep your Social Security card in a safe place, and keep several photocopies.

Eligibility for SSN

International students: To get a SSN, you must be employed and either working on campus or have work authorization if you are working off campus.


How to get a SSN for On-Campus Employment


How to get a SSN for Off-Campus Employment


Paying taxes on your earnings.


Social Security Card Office Locations


What you do NOT need a SSN for:

  • Driver’s license
  • SSNs are often used for checking credit, but they are not usually required.
    • Opening a bank account
    • Purchasing a phone plan
    • Renting an apartment

Social Security tax

International students in F-1 and J-1 status are exempt from Social Security tax (FICA). However, they are generally subject to federal and state income taxes.

3 days processing time

Please allow 3 days processing time for most Social Security forms.  You will receive an email from the ISC front desk when your form is ready. If you have not heard from us after 3 days, please feel free to contact the ISC.

 Tel: (619) 594-1982  |  Fax: 619-594-1973  |  Email: