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An international student or scholar can only apply for a Social Security number (SSN) when they are authorized to work in the United States.

Learn more about Social Security numbers for noncitizens (pdf).

You can begin working at Lehigh prior to receiving your SSN, but you will need to apply for a SSN once you have completed your payroll forms and received your employment verificaiton letter from your hiring department. The first step is to fill out the payroll forms with your hiring department.  Next, follow the instructions below that explain how to apply for your SSN.  When you receive your SSN, you will send a copy of your Social Security Card to payroll so they can update your records.

To apply for a SSN, you will need:

  • Application for a Social Security Card

    • If you are applying in order to get a denial letter for a Driver's License or other reason, at the top of the Social Security Card application, write "Requesting Denial Letter"

  • F-1 and J-1 Students:

    • Original Employment Verification Form (filled out by your hiring department) on Lehigh University letterhead with watermark.  See template here.

  • J-1 scholars:

    • Your appointment letter issued by Lehigh University

  • Copy of your I-94

  • Your original I-20 or DS-2019

  • Your passport and visa

Due to COVID-19 the Social Security Office has changed their policy:

You will need to mail your application along with legible copies of your documents FRONT and BACK, the employment verification letter, and a letter (from you as the student/scholar) explaining why you are applying for a SSN. Once the Social Security office has received your documents, you will be contacted  to schedule an in-person appointment. You will need to bring your original documents so that they can verify them with the ones you submitted by mail. It will take about 3-4 weeks to receive your SSN card in the mail. When you receive your card, you must take it to the Payroll Office to complete the processing of your payroll forms. The Payroll Office is located at 306 South New Street, Suite 464.

US Social Security Administration

555 Main Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(866) 783-7458


Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

Wednesday: 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

Saturday: Closed

Sunday: Closed