How to Apply for a Social Security Number

  Social Security Administration

 2045 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94704
(near downtown Berkeley BART station)

Click here for open hours


Social Security Number (SSN) Application Steps
for F-1, J-1, and J-2 status:

  1. Read When to Apply for an SSN before submitting your application.
  2. Collect the required forms and documentation (see table below).
  3. Complete a Social Security Application Form SS-5.
  4. Submit the application and the required documents in person at the Social Security Administration's office. Request a verification receipt of your application.
  5. Wait approximately two weeks for the Social Security card to arrive in the mail.
  6. Present the Social Security card to employer for review.
  7. Store the original Social Security card in a safe place. Do not carry it with you.

Required Documents


F-1 (OPT) Students


J-1 (AT) Students


J-2 Dependents
 Passport X X X X X X
 I-94 record or passport admission stamp X X X X X X
 I-20 (If on OPT/CPT, present the OPT/CPT I-20) X X        
 DS-2019     X X X X
 Employment Letter (see below)
X     X    
 Employment or Fellowship Authorization (see below)     X      
 Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  X       X

Employment Letters or Authorization
for Social Security Numbers

F-1 On-Campus Employment Letter

Ask your on-campus employer to write a letter using this Employer's Letter [doc] template. Bring this letter to Berkeley International Office for an Advisor's approval before going to the Social Security Administration office.

F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Off-campus employment letters do NOT require Berkeley International Office approval. Obtain an offer letter from your CPT employer (this letter does not need to follow the sample).

J-1 On-Campus Employment and Fellowship Authorization
Obtain employment or fellowship authorization from your J-1 visa sponsor (DS-2019 issuing entity). UC Berkeley-sponsored students can obtain On-Campus Employment or Fellowship Authorization from Berkeley International Office.

J-1 Academic Training (AT)
Off-campus employment letters do NOT require Berkeley International Office Advisors' approval. Obtain the employment letter from your AT employer (this letter does not need to follow the sample).

F-1 On-Campus Employment Letter
[Use Business Letterhead Stationary]

[Date current within last 30 days]

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is to certify that [student’s name] is enrolled as a full-time student pursuing a [degree level] in [major] at the University of California, Berkeley. 

[Student’s name] will be working [full-time / part-time] at [name of employer].  [His/her] job will be to [describe job].  [His/her] employment start date is [date].

For additional information, please contact the student’s supervisor,  [name of supervisor] at [telephone number].

Stamp and Signature of
Berkeley International Office Advisor

[Original Signature]
[Name of Author]