A Social Security number (SSN) is necessary to receive any income for services while in the U.S. Many nonimmigrants are eligible for SSNs because of their visa status in the U.S. Many others are not eligible for a Social Security number unless they have a job offer letter from an employer.
F-1 students are only eligible for SSNs if engaging in lawful employment. Therefore, a job offer letter is required while attending school. If an F-1 student has not applied for a SSN before applying for optional practical training (OPT), once the employment authorization card (EAD) is received, it can be used to support an application for an SSN in place of a letter of employment.
Individuals in J-1 status are eligible to apply for a social security number after arrival in the U.S. and are not required to provide any documentation of employment.
Many F-1 students wish to apply for a Californian driver’s license or state ID card, where an SSN is required. If they do not have a job offer letter, they can apply for a Letter of Denial, which can be used in place of an SSN.