Social Security Information for Students

Applying for a Social Security Card

Anyone who works in the U.S. must have a Social Security card with a Social Security number.   Numbers will only be issued to people who have permission to be employed in the United States. The Social Security Administration has a webpage about International Students and Social Security Numbers if you need more information.  Please note: Numbers are not issued for purposes of general identification - driver licenses, tax returns, bank accounts, phone service, etc.  Bank accounts can be opened by completing IRS Form W-8, Certificate of Foreign Status.

SISS has copies of the Social Security card application or you can download the PDF form from the agency website. The completed application must be filed in person at an agency office.

Please request the required letter from SISS via our  iGlobal portal.  Please allow one week for processing.  You will be emailed when it is ready to be picked up.

Required Documentation

F-1 Students:

  • Valid Passport (must be valid at least 6 months into the future at all times)
  • I-94 record
  • I-20
  • Letter from SISS confirming that you are eligible for employment (Request via the iGlobal portal)
  • Proof of employment, such as a job offer or pay stub. Please make sure that your job offer letter is on official letterhead and signed/dated by your supervisor. It must include the following information:
    • Job Description
    • Employment start date
    • Number of hours you are or will be working
    • Your supervisor’s name and telephone number

J-1 Students:

  • Valid Passport (must be valid at least 6 months into the future at all times)
  • I-94 record
  • DS-2019
  • Letter from SISS confirming that you are eligible for employment (Request via the iGlobal portal)
  • Proof of employment, such as a job offer or pay stub.  Please make sure that your job offer letter is on official letterhead and signed/dated by your supervisor. It must include the following information:
    • Job Description
    • Employment start date
    • Number of hours you are or will be working
    • Your supervisor’s name and telephone number

Social Security Office Locations

Applications for Social Security cards may be made in person at the following Social Security Offices:

  • Yolo County Residents should go to the West Sacramento office (Davis and Woodland are in Yolo County).
  • Sacramento County Residents should go to the Sacramento office.
Yolo County Office Sacramento County Office


For directions other offices, go to the Social Security website and click on Find an Office. You will get the location, a map and the hours the office is open.

Social Security Taxes

Although you need a Social Security card in order to be employed, F-1 and J-1 visa holders may be excluded from Social Security coverage according to the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961.  This means that neither you nor your employer has to make Social Security payments.  To make sure that your employer understands that Social Security deductions should not be made from your salary, you may refer your employer to IRS Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.

If payment has already been deducted from your wages, you should ask your employer to send IRS Form 941C together with a copy of your form I-94 to the Internal Revenue Service Center where the employer files the tax return.  The employer should refund your half of the Social Security deduction and ask you to verify that you have received this sum so that the Internal Revenue Service may reimburse the employer.  If the employer does not refund your portion of the Social Security payment, you should contact the Internal Revenue Service at 1-800-829-1040.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

Individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITINs) are nine-digit numbers issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to individuals who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a Social Security number (SSN).  ITINs are intended for tax use only. 

Who should apply for an ITIN?

Foreign nationals who are not eligible for a SSN:

  • To whom the University wishes to provide reimbursement for expenses;
  • Who file a U.S. tax return;
  • Who are claimed as dependent on U.S. tax returns;
  • Will file a joint U.S. tax return with an U.S. citizen/permanent resident spouse.

How do I apply for an ITIN?

It is possible to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), which is a nine-digit number issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to individuals who are not eligible for an SSN. This number is sometimes useful for other identification purposes. If a student needs an ITIN, refer to the IRS information.

Please note: Unless a person has received training from the IRS to give tax advice, it is against the law to do so. SISS staff are not allowed to advise on tax matters (including on how to get an ITIN number).