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If you are a visiting J-1 exchange student from a partner university, please visit the Exchange Students webpage to get more information on employment opportunities available to you.
For F-1 degree-seeking students, employment means the rendering of services on a part- or full-time basis for compensation (financial or otherwise), including self-employment. Employment falls into one of the following categories:
- On-campus student employment
- Off-campus employment
- Optional Practical Training (O.P.T.)
- Curricular Practical Training (C.P.T.)
- Work authorization for severe economic hardship
Each employment category has a different set of regulations and application procedures. It is important that you review this information carefully if you are interested in any form of employment, training, or volunteer opportunity.
The provided U.S. webpage on Working in the United States and U.S.C.I.S.’s webpage on Employment contain a breadth of useful information on all employment types, and are a great place to get started.
Obtaining a Social Security Number (S.S.N.)
Not all student or exchange visitor visa holders will be required to obtain a Social Security Number (S.S.N.) during their time in the U.S. In order to qualify for an S.S.N., you must have been offered a paid on-campus employment position (e.g., graduate assistant, teaching assistant, or a part-time job), or been approved for Optional Practical Training (O.P.T.), Curricular Practical Training (C.P.T.), or Academic Training (J-1 visa holders only). For example, if you participate in C.P.T. for one semester in an unpaid internship, you are not required to get an S.S.N.; however, if the internship is paid, you will need to work with your employer to apply for an S.S.N.
The purpose of the S.S.N. is to track earnings over a worker’s lifetime. For this reason, if you are offered employment on or off campus, you are required to secure a S.S.N. It is possible that you will be asked to provide your S.S.N. for identification purposes while you are here in the U.S. Please know that while this has become a common practice in the U.S., your passport number serves as sufficient identification for most purposes. On campus, you can also frequently use your UNCG I.D. number (usually starting with the digits 88XXXXXXX) for identification.
Process to Obtain a Social Security Number (S.S.N.)
Once you have received a job offer from your on- or off-campus employer, you can begin the process of obtaining your S.S.N. Note: you must wait at least 10 calendar days after arriving in the U.S. as a first-time student before visiting the Social Security Administration to apply for your S.S.N.. To apply for and receive an S.S.N., follow the steps below:
- Obtain an official job offer from your employer. The job offer letter must be written on official letterhead, signed by your employer, contain an intended start date, and a short description of duties associated with your position.
- If your position is on campus, you must request a letter from IPC to bring to the Social Security Administration verifying your status as an international student.
- Degree-seeking international students can request this letter from IPC by logging on to the I.S.S.S. Portal and completing the Certification Letter for S.S.N. request.
- Exchange students should contact the Incoming Exchange Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org) to request a letter for Social Security.
- Take the following original documents when you visit the Social Security Administration Office, located at 6005 Landmark Center Boulevard, Greensboro, N.C. 27407; Ph: (877) 319-3075 (Office hours: Mon, Tues, Thurs & Fri: 9:00AM–4:00PM; Wed 9:00AM–12:00PM).
- Completed and signed S.S.N. application, which you may also complete at the Social Security Administration.
- Valid passport with F-1 or J-1 visa.
- I-94 admission/departure record.
- Form I-20 or DS-2019 visa document. If you are a transfer student from another U.S. educational institution, also take with you all past original I-20 or DS-2019 forms.
- Letter of employment/job offer letter.
- If your position is on campus, S.S.N. Certification Letter from IPC
- At the conclusion of your S.S.N. application appointment, you will be given a receipt indicating that you have met all verification requirements or that you must wait additional time for your documents to be verified.
It typically takes two weeks for your social security card to arrive, but you can use the receipt received from the Social Security Administration to begin the I-9 and tax verification processes.
For directions and further information regarding the social security information, please visit Social Security Online and Study in the States.