Employment

Employment options under the F visa are regulated and limited. Students should not assume they are automatically eligible to work in the United States. The Department of Homeland Security considers unauthorized employment to be a very serious violation of a student visa status. Students on an F-1 visa are eligible to work on campus on a part-time basis, which is up to 20 hours per week while school is in session. During holiday breaks and the summer vacation, a student can work full-time on campus.  Students in F-1 status are eligible to work off campus only after obtaining specific employment authorization from the International Office and in certain instances, from the USCIS. Permission to engage in off-campus employment must be obtained in advance of beginning employment, even if it is for purposes of fulfilling an internship requirement.

For more information regarding employment, see the links above.

Social Security

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a unique, 9-digit, identification number issued by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA). Although originally developed as a way to track and disburse social benefits such as pensions, the SSN has become a universal identification number used for many purposes including, but not limited to:

  • Employer payroll
  • Internal Revenue Service (federal taxes)
  • Driver's Licenses (some states)
  • Credit History

General Requirements

Regardless of immigration status, the following are general requirements for all international students:

  • Must be present in the U.S. for at least 10 days before applying
  • Valid Passport
  • Stamped original I-20
  • Electronic I-94 (Or a white card in your passport with date stamp present)
  • Social Security Application

Additional Requirements

F-1 Students

Requirements

On-campus employment

Curricular Practical Training 

  • CPT approval on the third page of I-20
  • Job Offer letter
  • Cannot apply more than 30 days prior to start date of CPT

Optional Practical Training

  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • Job Offer letter
  • Cannot apply until after the start date listed on the EAD

Anyone using a Philadelphia zip code (19101-19160) for their address MUST visit the card center to conduct their Social Security card business for initial or replacements cards. The nine Social Security Administration (SSA) offices in Philadelphia will no longer conduct Social Security Card business but will refer cliental to the Card Center. SSA offices outside of Philadelphia will also refer visitors needing these services and under the Card Center's jurisdiction to the Card Center.

Social Security Administration Offices

Philadelphia Social Security Card Center
2 Penn Center, Suite 2000B, 1500 JKF Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 am – 3:30 pm

Cherry Hill Social Security Administration
Suite 100, Five Executive Campus
Cherry Hill, New Jersey, 08002
Hours: Monday - Friday:09:00 AM - 03:30 PM
 

The Social Security Card

Once your application for a SSN has been approved by the Social Security Administration (SSA), the SSA will send a Social Security card to the address you provided on your application form.  The usual processing time is two weeks. If additional security procedures are necessary, processing times may range from 4-8 weeks. Most likely you will receive a Social Security card that has the notation- "Valid for work only with DHS Authorization."

Security and Identity theft

Once you obtain an SSN, it will be the same number for your lifetime. Due to this, you should know where your original card is located and keep your Social Security card in a safe place. If you lose your card and are no longer working, it can be difficult or impossible to obtain a new card. The application evidence requirements to replace a lost card are the same as those listed above.