I have been working on-campus for 3 years now as an international student. I often am asked about how to obtain a Social Security Number as you cannot work in the U.S. without one. The process is actually very simple.
First, you need to find an employer on campus. For F1 visa holders can work a maximum number of hours, depending on the job the hours can differ, most often the maximum is 19 hours a week on-campus. If it is off-campus, you need the approval from International Student & Scholars (ISS) and it must be an internship connected to your major. I will focus on on-campus employment since there are opportunities and it's been a great way for me to engage in the campus community. On-campus employment can be competitive so be sure to work on your resumes, interview skills and general knowledge on how to go about finding on campus openings. Handshake is an online job search website offered through SCU’s on-campus Career Center. You can find a lot of employment opportunities, both on and off-campus. Of course, personal connections are always helpful in finding a job too! Many professors offer assistant positions or the Drahmann Tutoring Center is always looking for tutors.
Once you find an employer, you need to ask your employer to issue you a job offer letter. Take this letter to ISS and obtain another letter from ISS, which can be used to request a SSN. The letter from ISS tells the Social Security Office your immigration status and that you are eligible to work on-campus (this may take several days, ISS will contact you once the letter is ready for you to pick-up).
When you pick up the letter from ISS, they will also provide you with instructions to obtain your SSN. Bring the job offer letter, ISS request letter, your most recent I-20 and your passport to any Social Security Office.
The wait at the Social Security Office can be very long; I waited almost 2 hours to get to one of the windows. The process is very straightforward, the officer will ask you a few questions and where you’d like your SSN to be mailed. There is no fee to obtain a SSN. It usually takes 2 weeks for the SSN to arrive at your SCU mailbox so don’t forget to check your mailbox.
After you receive your SSN, take your I-20, SSN, passport, bank account number (both Routing number and account number) and your most recent I-94 to SCU Human Resources (HR). The office is located off-campus (just across the street); it is near to the Transportation Station at North East side off the campus. You need to type your information into the computer and show your I-94. Human Resources will issue you a letter/card for completing the registration process; you need to give it to your employer to show that you are now eligible to work.
You also need to complete the New Student Employee Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) Orientation, preferably before start working. The orientation can be completed either by attending one of the session or online.
Paychecks are usually distributed every 2 weeks and it is usually issued during the second half of the following week and direct deposit is an option. Don’t forget to check your bank account for the paychecks! International Student Services has a lot of great information on their website about working and academic internships, be sure to read through it.