Social Security Number

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a 9 digit number used as an employment identification number for tax purposes. The SSN can also be used for identity verification in regards to opening a bank account, applying for an Iowa driver's license or entering into a contract for a cell phone; however these are not valid reasons to be issued a SSN and subsequently, you will be denied.

Who Is Eligible

You must be employed or have an offer of employment to receive a Social Security Number. That means you must be an:

  • F-1 student with on-campus employment
  • F-1 student engaged in OPT or CPT

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

If you are ineligible to receive a SSN, you will need to apply for an ITIN in order to complete your taxes. ALL international students are required to file taxes regardless of whether you are employed or not.

How to Apply

You will need to provide original documents showing proof of immigration status, identity, age, and work eligibility. Below is a list of original documents you will need to take with you to the Social Security Administration:

  • Completed application for a social security card, Form SS-5 (PDF)
  • Valid passport
  • Valid F-1 visa
  • I-94 Card
  • Current I-20
  • Letter from the Office of International Student Services (OISS)
  • Letter from the employer on the employer' s letterhead that includes:
    • Identity of student employee
    • Job description
    • Anticipated or actual employment start date
    • Number of hours the student is expected to work
    • Employer Identification Number (EIN)
    • Employer contact information, including the telephone number and the name of the F-1 student' s immediate supervisor
    • Original signature
    • Date

    For international students on OPT you will need to provide you Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) or a letter from the USCIS saying that you are eligible for a SSN.

Where to Apply

You must go in-person to the Social Security Administration located at:

Riverpoint OFC Complex
455 SW 5th Street, Suite F
Des Moines, Iowa 50309


  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursay, Friday: 9 AM–4 PM
  • Wednesday: 9 AM–noon
  • Except Federal Holidays
  • Saturday and Sunday: CLOSED