Social Security Numbers and ITINs

A SSN or ITIN is needed to facilitate payment for scholarships, fellowships, employment in the U.S., and to file a U.S. tax return. If you are not eligible to apply for a SSN, you may need to request an ITIN in order to receive tax treaty benefits and to file a U.S. tax return.

Social Security Number

To be eligible to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN), international students and scholars are typically required to provide evidence of both employment and work authorization. Click on the categories below for more information on Social Security Number eligibility and required documentation. Not every student is eligible for a Social Security Number. If you have questions about your eligibility, please contact OISS.

F-1 / J-1 Students working on-campus

To be eligible for an SSN, F-1 and J-1 students must meet all the following requirements:

  1. Student is currently enrolled full-time, or is approved for part-time enrollment.
  2. Student has checked in with OISS and has been registered in SEVIS at least 10 days prior (for questions regarding SEVIS registration, please contact OISS).
  3. Student has secured on-campus employment (Please note that fellowships are not considered employment.).
  4. The on-campus job start date is no more than 30 days into the future.

For more information, please see the handout Social Security Number Procedures for F-1 and J-1 Students.

If all requirements have been met, please follow these procedures:

  1. Request on-campus employment supervisor to complete the Employment Verification Form. Please note that the form must be typed by the employer and printed for an original signature.
  2. Once completed, bring the form to OISS to request a SSN Letter of Support, which will verify that you are authorized for this employment.
  3. F-1 students: Complete a Statement of Understanding for F-1 Student On-Campus Employment and give it to OISS together with the completed "Employment Verification Form".
    J-1 students: All on-campus employment for J-1 students must be authorized by OISS in SEVIS before you begin work! Please see the J-1 Student On-Campus Employment Authorization Form for more information.

List of documents needed when visiting the Social Security Office

  • I-20 / DS-2019
  • Passport
  • Most recent I-94
  • Original Employment Verification Form completed and signed by on-campus employment supervisor
  • Original SSN Letter of Support issued by OISS
F-1 / J-1 Students working off-campus

To be eligible for an SSN, F-1 and J-1 students must meet all the following requirements:

  1. Student is currently enrolled full-time, or is approved for part-time enrollment.
  2. Student has checked in with OISS and has been registered in SEVIS at least 10 days prior (for questions regarding SEVIS registration, please contact OISS).
  3. Student has secured authorization for off-campus employment (i.e. CPT / Academic Training). For more information, please see our Student Employment webpage.
  4. The CPT or Academic Training start date is no more than 30 days into the future.

List of documents needed when visiting the Social Security Office:

  • I-20 / DS-2019 indicating the CPT / Academic Training authorization
  • Passport
  • Most recent I-94
  • Offer letter from employer
J-1 Scholars

J-1 scholars are eligible to apply for an SSN 10 days after they have completed the check-in appointment with OISS.

List of documents needed when visiting the Social Security Office:

  • DS-2019
  • Passport
  • Most recent I-94
  • Offer letter from Rice

Students and Scholars on other visas

If you have a valid EAD card issued by USCIS, you are automatically eligible to apply for a Social Security Number. Otherwise eligibility depends on visa type and other circumstances. Not every student is eligible for an SSN. If you have questions about your eligibility, please contact OISS.

Applying for the Social Security Number

To apply for the Social Security Number, you must visit a Social Security Office in person with all the required documents (please see categories above for a list of applicable documentation). You are welcome to visit any location. Maps to the SSA office closest to Rice campus are available in OISS (or online), or you may look up other SSA offices at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/locator.

After applying, you will receive your Social Security Card in the mail typically within 2 - 3 weeks. Please note that while you may begin employment prior to receiving the Social Security Number, you must update the Payroll office of your employer with that information upon receiving your SSN card.

You remain eligible for the Social Security Number only as long as your employment continues, so we recommend that you apply as early as possible. Keep your Social Security Card in a safe place with your personal records, don't carry it with you unless you need to provide it for a specific and legitimate purpose. The SSN that is issued for you will be your Social Security Number for the duration of your lifetime, even if you leave the U.S. and return several years later on a new visa status.

For more information, please see the Social Security Administration website at https://www.ssa.gov/

Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs)

If you do not currently have a Social Security Number (SSN) and are not currently eligible for an SSN (i.e. you do not have employment), you will need to apply for an ITIN to receive tax treaty benefits and/or to file your U.S. tax return. If you are from a country that allows you to claim dependents on your U.S. tax return (Canada, Mexico, South Korea or India) or you are a resident alien for tax purposes and your dependent does not currently have an SSN and is not eligible for an SSN, then your dependent will also need to apply for an ITIN to be claimed on your tax return.

NOTE: If you are only required to file form 8843 for your U.S. tax return, then no SSN nor ITIN is required.

Application process for ITIN

STEP 1: Prepare your tax return – In order to apply for an ITIN, you must have a valid reason, such as the need to file your U.S. tax return. This documentation is required as part of your application. You may use Glacier Tax Prep (GTP) to assist you in preparing your tax return and your ITIN application.

STEP 2: Obtain “No Employment Certification” letter from OISS – Please request this letter by phone or email. It will be prepared and ready for you on the following business day.

STEP 3: Gather the following documents and visit a certified acceptance agent or Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) in person (most require appointments). The agent will review your original immigration documents, certify them, return the originals to you and forward all documents including tax return forms to the IRS ITIN office.

NOTE: While it is possible to mail in your forms without visiting an approved agent, you would be required to send in your original documents. OISS does NOT recommend ever mailing your original immigration documents, as the risk of them getting lost is very high. You may seek a certified copy of your passport from your home country's consulate or embassy to mail to the IRS, but this would be the only circumstance in which you may bypass visiting a certified agent in person.
Documents (Click for complete list):

  1. Completed IRS Form W-7 Application (GTP will prepare it for you)
  2. Completed tax return forms (including 8843, 1042NR-EZ, etc.)
  3. Original passport, visa, and I-94
  4. Original I-20 or DS-2019 form
  5. OISS letter for “No Employment Certification”

STEP 4: ITIN receipt – the IRS will mail you a letter assigning you your ITIN number within 6-8 weeks. The ITIN office will enter that information on the tax forms you submitted with your application and will forward your tax return forms to the proper tax processing unit to complete your tax return filing.

ITIN Processing Locations – Acceptance Agents and Taxpayer Assistance Centers

Taxpayer Assistance Centers

Location Address Hours Contact Information

Houston (SW)

8701 S. Gessner
Houston, TX 77074

Monday - Friday; 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Services Provided

Office Information
281-721-7021

Make Appointment
844-545-5640

Houston (SE)

8876 Gulf Freeway
Houston, TX 77017

Monday - Friday; 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Services Provided

Office Information
281-721-7021

Make Appointment
844-545-5640

Houston (NW)

12941 I45 N
Houston, TX 77060

Monday - Friday; 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Services Provided

Office Information
713-209-5499

Make Appointment
844-545-5640

Houston (Downtown)
**closest to Rice

1919 Smith St.
Houston, TX 77002

Monday - Friday; 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Services Provided

Office Information
281-721-7021

Make Appointment
844-545-5640

Acceptance Agents can be found in Texas and around the world. Visit https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/acceptance-agent-program to find one near you. Please note that some agents may charge a fee associated with their services, including tax form preparation, so be sure to inquire directly with the agent regarding any costs to you.

ITIN process for F-1s and J-1s receiving funding

Rice-sponsored F-1s and J-1s receiving a taxable scholarship, fellowship, or grant who are not eligible for a SSN and do not yet have an ITIN may be able to apply for an ITIN at OISS through a special provision in U.S. tax law. Please visit https://oiss.rice.edu/itin to learn more.