Social Security Cards
A Social Security Number Card (SNN) can only be issued for someone who is authorized to work in the U.S. In the past, Social Security Numbers were issued for non-work purposes. But recent changes in the law require that it can only be issued for employment purposes. F-1 students who want on-campus employment must have a job offer letter or letter of employment in order to receive a Social Security Number.
SSN and Texas Driver's License
You must use your SSN to apply for a Texas Driver’s License (TDL). J-2 dependents are not allowed to obtain a Social Security Number. A J-2 without work permission may obtain a TDL by obtaining a Social Security Number rejection letter (i.e not eligible for a Social Security Number) and submitting it at the Department of Public Safety when applying for a TDL. If the J-2 has work authorization, he or she should use his or her SSN to apply for the TDL.
SSN and Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITIN)
Some banks, apartment complexes, car rental, and other stores may ask you for a Social Security Number. If you are not eligible for a Social Security Number, you may be able to submit an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) that is available by applying to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This number is sometimes accepted in place of a Social Security Number. Individuals who are not eligible for a Social Security Number may be eligible for an ITIN. Follow ITIN Info for more information about obtaining an ITIN.
New Social Security Card Procedures
Social Security Administration (SSA) will not process an SSN application if the employment start date for general on-campus work or curricular practical training (CPT) is more than 30 days in the future.
SSA will not process an SSN application if a DHS-issued Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766 or I-688B) shows a future work authorization date (as shown by the issue or "valid from" date on the employment authorization card).
The SSA will only issue Social Security Numbers (SSN) and SSN cards to international students and scholars for work purposes only. For more details visit the Social Security Administration.
The following evidence is required for each of the categories below.
F-1 On-Campus Employment
The F-1 student will have to provide a statement from his or her on-campus employer on UH department letterhead (1st letter), to prove that the student is engaging in, or has secured, specific employment.
For your convenience, ISSS has provided a template for on-campus employers. You can fill the F-1 Employment Letter. Please have the on-campus employer print the form on a letterhead. For J-1 Visa holders, please visit our J-1 SSN letter template.
F-1 students who apply for an SSN on the basis of on-campus employment will also have to present a letter from a Designated School Official (2nd letter) at the International Student and Scholar Services Office (ISSS), University Center North, Room 203, stating that the student is authorized to engage in on-campus employment, the nature of the employment to be engaged in, and identifying the on-campus employer for whom the student will be working. The F-1 student needs to bring the 1st letter to ISSS to request the 2nd letter.
Bring your 1st and 2nd letter along with your passport, I-94 card, and I-20 to the Social Security Administration Office to apply for a Social Security Number.
Once the authorization is received from us for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), F-1 students should bring their passport, I-94 card, and the newly updated I-20 with the work authorization typed on page 2 to the Social Security Office.
F-1 students on Optional Practical Training or Economic Hardship Work Permission need to show their passport, I-94 card, I-20, and Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card.
Working While Awaiting for an SSN
An F-1 student may work while the Social Security number application is being processed. Employers may wish to reference SSA’s fact sheet, Employer Responsibilities When Hiring Foreign Workers. This fact sheet contains information on how to report wages for an employee who has not yet received an SSN and is available online at Employer Responsibilities When Hiring Foreign Workers.