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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 make sure that you have checked in with OISS and your SEVIS record is in Active status. Next, you will fill out the payroll forms with your hiring department.  Finally, 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 signed by the student's supervisor.  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. If OISS sent your I-20 via e-mail, you MUST print all three pages in color and sign the bottom of P. 1 in ink.

  • Your passport and visa

Most Social Security Offices, including the Bethlehem office, have reopened for in-person visits.  You no longer need to mail documents or schedule an appointment.  To apply for your SSN, take all of the original documents listed above (no photocopies will be accepted) to the Social Security Office to apply.  You can search using your zip code to find the hours of the Social Security office that you should visit.

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.

If you live on or near campus you will go to:

US Social Security Administration
555 Main Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(866) 783-7458


Monday through Friday: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

Saturday: Closed

Sunday: Closed