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Social Security Number and Immigrants: Who Needs an SSN and Why, and How to Get One

Why does a non-US citizen need a social security number, explained on the website Social Security Administration (SSA).

Photo: Shutterstock

If you are not a citizen and do not want to work in the United States, you most likely do not need a Social Security Number (SSN).

Generally, only non-US citizens who have permission to work in America can obtain a Social Security number. Social Security numbers are used to tell the government about a person's wages and determine if they are eligible for social security benefits, but they are also sometimes needed to get other government services.

Legal US residents can get many benefits and services without a Social Security number. You don't need an SSN to get a driver's license, enroll in school, get private health insurance, or apply for school lunch or subsidized housing programs.

Some organizations use social security numbers to identify you on their records. However, most of them will identify you in some other way if you ask for it. While many companies, such as banks and credit card companies, may ask for your Social Security number, you generally don't have to provide one if you don't have one.

Как immigrant get a social security number (SSN)

For holders of immigrant visas

If you are an immigrant, you can apply in two ways. You can apply in your home country prior to coming to the United States along with your immigrant visa application. In almost all cases, if you are applying for a Social Security number along with your immigrant visa application, you do not need to visit the US Social Security office. More details here... The second method is suitable for those who are already in the US. He can visit the Social Security office and fill out all the paperwork there.

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For nonimmigrant visa holders

Nonimmigrants can also apply in two ways, depending on their visa status. If you are legally in the United States and plan to apply for a work permit with DHS and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you can request SSN on the same application at USCIS... This is Form I-765 (Application for work permit).

If you are legally in the United States and your visa allows you to work (that is, you do not need to file Form I-765), then you must visit the social security office in person to apply.

Documents to be attached to the SSN application

You need to prove your identity and immigration status with a work permit.

To prove your identity and immigration status with a work permit, you will need to show your current US immigration documents and your passport that has not yet expired.

Documents required for this:

  • Form I-551 (Legal Permanent Resident Card, Machine Readable Immigrant Visa);
  • an admission mark indicating the class that allows you to work in the United States;
  • Form I-94 (Record of Arrival / Departure) or
  • Form I-766 (Work Permit).

For international students with a visa F-1 or M-1, Form I-20 required or a letter from an official representative of the educational institution.

To prove your age, you must provide a birth certificate (issued by your home country), if you have one or can get one within 10 working days. Otherwise considered other documents, such as a valid passport or DHS-issued proof of age.

An application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5) must be completed at the Social Security office or at agency website.

It is important to remember that all documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing institution. Not accepted photocopies or notarized copies documents.

One document can be used for two purposes, for example a passport can prove identity and serve as proof of age. However, you must provide at least two separate documents.

The application must be submitted no earlier than 10 days after arriving in America. This will allow all data about you to be pulled into a digital database and simplify identity verification and the process of issuing an SSN.

It is free to apply for a social security number and card.

SSN for other purposes

If you do not have a work permit in the United States, you can only get a Social Security number if you can prove you need it for a valid non-work reason. This can happen, for example, if Federal law requires you to have a Social Security number in order to receive benefits for which you are already eligible.

If you need a number for tax purposes and do not have a permit to work in the United States, you can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) with the IRS.

If a business or government agency asks you for a Social Security number and you are not eligible to work in the United States, ask if they can identify you in some other way. In most cases, you will be able to get the service or license you need without a Social Security number.

How to contact Social Security

The most convenient way to contact the service anytime, anywhere is to visit the website There you can: apply for benefits; open an account for social security; get valuable information; find publications; get answers to frequently asked questions and much more.

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New York.

If you do not have access to the Internet, the service offers a variety of automated services by calling 1-800-772-1213, with an auto answer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also talk directly with a consultant - from 7:00 to 19:00 from Monday to Friday.

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