Skip Top Navigation

Social Security Information

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 changes in the law now 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. You are assigned one social security number in your lifetime.

SSN and Texas Driver's License

You must use your SSN to apply for a Texas Driver's License (TDL). If you do not have one and are not eligible for an SSN, when you apply for your Texas Driver's License, you will be able to check a box/fill out a form attesting that you do not have and are not currently eligible for an SSN. This is the procedure for Texas Driver's License and the process may be different in another state.

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. OIAP can assist with obtaining an ITIN between May-December. Complete the ITIN Request in the ISD Portal. During tax season (January-April), ITIN applications must be completed with a Certifying Acceptance Agent.

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.

F-1 On-Campus Employment

Step One:
The F-1 student will obtain an offer letter from their on-campus employer on UHCL department letterhead (1st letter), to prove that the student is engaging in, or has secured, specific employment. The signature of the hiring manager cannot be a digital signature.

For your convenience, OIAP has provided a template for on-campus employers that is suggested by SSA. You can fill the F-1 Employment Letter. Please have the on-campus employer print the form on a letterhead and sign with pen ink.

Step Two:
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) stating that the student is authorized to engage in on-campus employment. The F-1 student needs to upload the 1st letter into the Status Letter Request in the ISD Portal to request the 2nd letter.

Step Three:
Pick up the original DSO letter and new I-20 from the Office of International Admissions & Student Services in Bayou Building, Suite 2123.

Step Four:
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.

Off-Campus Employment

Once the authorization is received from OIAP 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 3 to the Social Security Office. The student can also request a Status Letter in the ISD portal for the DSO letter to bring to the SSA office, as mentioned above.

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. There is no need for a DSO letter.

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.

Protect your SSN

You should be careful who you give this number to. Keep it secure in your home. Do not carry your SSN card in your wallet. If someone gets a hold of your SSN, it could be used for identity theft. Legitimate government forms, applications for credit cards, banks, phone service, leasing offices, Human resources, etc. may request your SSN. If anything feels illegitimate, please contact our office and we can help you decide how to protect your identity.


  • International Student Services

    Phone: 281-283-2740
    Fax: 281-226-7038

    Bayou Building B2123
    2700 Bay Area Blvd, Box 225
    Houston, TX 77058-1002