International students who obtain employment authorization in the U.S. are eligible to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). The SSN is used to pay and tax you correctly for your U.S. based work and is used for other financial transactions in the U.S. 

The SSN does not grant you U.S. work authorization. Your card will be marked with the conditional notation “Valid for Work only with DHS Authorization.” 

You may apply for your SSN based on either an offer of on-campus employment or approved authorization for off-campus employment. 

Certifying Your On-Campus Employment

Students can review general information regarding on-campus employment.

In order to apply for an SSN based on on-campus employment, you must first secure an on-campus employment offer.

Once you have an on-campus offer of employment (or an offer of employment at an approved off-campus vendor such as Bon Appetit) through Terra Dotta:

  • Navigate to the Control Center 
  • Select the icon for Social Security Certification 
  • Follow the prompts to complete the form – The form will ask to you enter information including: 
    • On-Campus Hiring Department 
    • Employer / Department Street Address (include city, state, zip) 
    • Job title for student job 
    • Employment Start Date 
  • On the form, you will be asked to provide the name and contact information for your “Approver”. Here you should enter the information of your Emerson job supervisor, including: 
    • Approver Name
    • Approver Title
    • Approver Email 
    • Approver Phone

Once you submit this request, Terra Dotta will send a notification to your Emerson job supervisor to approve your Social Security Certification request. 

After your request has been approved by your supervisor, your request will then be forwarded to OISA for our review. If it is complete and correct, we will then be able to issue you a Social Security Certification of On-Campus Employment for you to take with you to your Social Security appointment. 

Documenting your Off-Campus Employment Authorization

If you are applying for a SSN based on off-campus employment, you will need to present documentation of your US employment authorization, as follows:

Employment Type Document Needed
F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Your I-20 with CPT authorization 
F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
F-1 Employment based on Economic Hardship  Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
J-1 Student Academic Training Updated DS-2019 and A/RO Authorization Letter for Academic Training

Applying for Your SSN

Once you have documentation of your US employment authorization (either your On-Campus Certification or other based on your employment type referenced above), you will then make your application for an SSN at a Social Security Administration office. 

Go in person to the Social Security Office closest to your address of U.S. residence.

Find your nearest Social Security Office by zip code. 

If you live on the Boston campus:

Social Security Administration
Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. Federal Building  
10 Causeway Street, Boston, MA 02222  
Phone: 800-772-1213

Hours: Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 
Closed Federal Holidays.

If you live on the ELA Campus:

Social Security Administration
11500 W. Olympic Blvd, Suite 300
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Phone: 800-772-1213

Hours: Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 
Closed Federal Holidays.

Documents to Bring with You

Bring the following original documents with you to your appointment:

Beginning your On-Campus Work based on your SSN Appointment Receipt

Once you present your documents to the Social Security Administration, you will receive a receipt for this appointment. 

This receipt will allow you to begin your employment at Emerson College while you wait for your SSN to arrive. If you wish to begin working while your Social Security is pending, you must upload a copy of your SSN appointment receipt to Terra Dotta (under the Update Documents function) or email us a copy of the receipt to oisa [at] (oisa[at]emerson[dot]edu)

It is imperative that you report your SSN to Student Employment as soon as you receive it so that we can update your student record for payment and tax purposes. 

Reporting Your Approved SSN Card

Your Social Security Number card should arrive in the mail within about 2 weeks after your appointment to the US address listed on your application.  

One you have received your card by mail, you will need to bring the original card in person to the Student Employment Office to update your record. 


Union Bank Building, 216 Tremont Street, 4th Floor


Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Wednesday: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Please make sure to do this as soon as possible after receiving your card!

Keeping Your SSN Card and Number Confidential

Be sure to keep both your new card and number confidential.

Protecting your Social Security Number is important to prevent identity theft that can harm your financial credit in the U.S. Do not forward a picture of your SSN card by email or confirm your actual number to our office. Your new number should only be reported to through secure channels and to trusted offices where you have financial dealings (payroll, taxes, banks, credit card applications). At Emerson your number should be reported only to Student Employment, Financial Aid and Payroll through secure channels. 

Make sure to store your Social Security card securely with other important documents. The card should be signed, but should not be laminated as this invalidates the card.