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


Follow these steps to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) if in F-1, J-1 or J-2 status:

  1. Collect the required forms and documentation (see table below).
  2. Complete a Social Security Application Form SS-5 before visiting the Social Security Administration Office. 
  3. Submit the application in person at the Social Security Administration's office with the required documents. Request a verification receipt of your application.
  4. Wait approximately two weeks for the Social Security card to arrive in the mail.
  5. Present the Social Security card to employer for review.
  6. Keep original Social Security card for records and in a safe place.

Please note: The Social Security Administration cannot process an application if:

  • On-campus or F-1 Curricular Practical Training work begins more than 30 days from the application date; or
  • The employment start date on the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is a future date.
  • Student has failed to check in with Berkeley International Office in the first semester.

Required Documents

F-1 Students

F-1 (OPT) Students

J-1 Students

J-1 Scholars

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

F-1 Student Employer's Letter

  • F-1 Students Working On Campus:
    Present a job offer letter from the employer along with all other documents. Ask the on-campus employer to write the letter. They may download the 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 Students on OPT/CPT:
    Obtain the letter from your OPT/CPT employer.  Off-campus employer's letters do NOT require Berkeley International Office Advisers' approval.

J-1 Student Employment and Fellowship Authorization

Obtain employment or fellowship authorization from the J sponsor (DS-2019 issuing entity) to apply for a Social Security Number. UC Berkeley-sponsored students can obtain On-Campus Employment or Fellowship authorization from Berkeley International Office if working or receiving a Fellowship within thirty days by following the procedures listed at J-1 On-Campus Work Authorization.


F-1 Sample 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 Adviser

[Original Signature]
[Name of Author]