International Students and the Social Security Card

Social Security Cards are issued by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA).

The purpose of your Social Security Number (SSN) is for the government to track your earnings for income tax purposes.

You will be able to apply for the SSN when you are first offered a job. This can be either an on-campus job or an off-campus internship – see Internships - Curricular Practical Training. Note: SSNs cannot be requested for unpaid internships or volunteer work or because you simply want one; only paid employment can get you a SSN.


  • When offered a job, you must get a written offer letter from your employer. It must include their wet signature, not a photocopy of a signed letter or one with a digital signature. The letter must contain specific information required by SSA. See Pomona College On-Campus Job Offer Letter [docx].  
  • Email a copy of that letter to the ISA, Kathy Quispe, who will provide you another letter verifying your F-1 status. You will also get instructions on completing the Social Security application form and what additional documents you must have
  • Take those letters, your valid passport, a completed application for a Social Security card, your I-94 and your I-20 to the local Social Security office. Note: During the stay-at-home order currently in place, some SSA offices may not be allowing walk-ins. You should contact them in advance to see if an appointment is required and how to request one.
  • The closest SSA office is in Pomona, 2130 N Garey Ave, Pomona, CA 91767, about 3 miles from campus. Their phone number is 1-888-808-5486.  Call to confirm their hours and application procedures as there are some changes due to COVID. Other nearby locations include:
    • Ontario SSA: 1100 E Holt Blvd, Ontario, CA 91761; Phone: (866) 331-2216; approximately 7.3 miles from campus
    • Glendora SSA: 1165 E Rte 66, Glendora, CA 91740; Phone: (866) 964-6045; approximately 9.5 miles from campus
    • West Covina SSA: 501 S Vincent Ave, SUITE 201, West Covina, CA 91790;  Phone: (866) 964-0162; approximately 14.5 miles from campus
  • At the end of your in-person application, they will provide you a receipt confirming your application is complete.  It takes about 10 days to 2 weeks from the in-person meeting to get your card in the mail

For on campus employment: when you receive your receipt confirming you applied for your SSN, take it to the Human Resources Office at Pomona College (Pendleton Building) so they can continue your employment process.  When you receive your SSN card in the mail, take it to the Human Resources office to be placed on payroll.

If your first employment is an internship, you will need to first get your internship authorized by the ISA – I-20 with employment shown on page 2. See Internships – Curricular Practical Training. Then follow the steps above.

Miscellaneous Matters

  • Once you are issued a U.S. Social Security number, it is yours for life.
  • Put your card in a safe place. If you lose your card, you will have to be currently working in order to replace it.
  • Keep your number private. Share it only with employers.
  • Credit bureaus utilize your SSN to track your credit history. Theft of your SSN can make you vulnerable to identity theft.
  • It is generally not considered a good idea to put your SSN in your phone.
  • It is not illegal to laminate your card, but SSA prefers you do not because lamination obscures certain anti-identity theft, security features.