Carnegie Mellon University

FAQs: Social Security Number (SSN)

The following frequently asked questions are related to Social Security Numbers for international students. Immigration regulations and policies are subject to change. Please regularly review this FAQ page and OIE's News & Updates, and stay tuned to your email, for new and updated information. 

Social Security Numbers (SSN) are only issued for individuals who has current work authorization in the United States. Students who are not working cannot obtain an SSN. Students must have completed an immigration check-in with OIE (when newly arrived or returning from a leave) before you may apply for the SSN. Fulbright and other students in J status, who are not under CMU's sponsorship, should contact their sponsor directly for SSN information.

Please note that an SSN card cannot be processed if the employment start date is more than 30 days in the future or if your employment has ended. 

Social Security Numbers (SSN) are not required to obtain cell phones or utility services. However, if you do not have a SSN, you may have to follow additional procedures to apply for services, such as paying a large deposit.

You will be prompted to make an appointment at the SSN office located at 6117 Station Street, Pittsburgh PA 15206 (East Liberty) after completing the SSN online application

Follow the instructions as listed on our website

We recommend making an appointment at the SSN office located at 6117 Station Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15206 (East Liberty) after completing the SSN online application

Select the "Number for the first time. Request a Social Security number if you don't have one" option on the SSN website. When you go to the SSN office for your appointment, you can request an SSN denial letter. 

At this time, each individual SSN office has its own specific procedures for processing SSN applications for international students. You should contact the SSA nearest you to find out their process. You can use the SSN Office locator tool or call the national SSA line at 1-800-772-1213 to obtain the local SSA office number. 

For additional information, consult OIE's webpage on Applying for a SSN

It is our understanding that students do not need an SSN to start working (although they will need to apply for an SSN when it is possible to do so). Please see the following government information:

Check with your employer to clarify their internal policy regarding providing an SSN (i.e., when you will be required to provide your SSN or proof of your SSN application to the employer). Please share the U.S. federal guidance posted here with your employer.

Please note that if you applied for OPT and requested an SSN on your Form I-765, you should receive your SSN card in the mail after your OPT is approved.

You can replace your card for free if it is lost or stolen. To get a replacement card, you must take the same original documentation that you used when you first applied for an SSN to the loal Social Security Administration office, including proof of a current on campus job or off campus employment authorization (CPT, OPT, AT). On the SS-5 application, you will indicate that you are applying for a replacement SSN card. Your replacement card will have the same name and number as your previous card.