How do foreigners apply for a social security number?

If you are a foreigner and have been in the US for a while, you must have been asked for your Social Security Number (SSN) several times. For example, when you fill out immigration-related applications, look for a job, open a bank account, apply for a credit card, apply for a driver’s license, buy medical insurance, file tax returns, start a business or start a business in the United States, etc., you are bound to have many questions about your social security number. 

What is a Social Security Number (SSN)?

A Social Security number is a unique nine-digit number assigned to an individual. No two people have the same SSN. The Social Security Number is used to report the holder’s salary to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social Security Administration (SSA). After retirement, those who have contributed to the Social Security system can receive monthly cash benefits (“Social Security benefits”).

When do foreigners need a Social Security number?

As a foreigner, you need a Social Security number if you plan to work in the United States.

If you don’t plan to work in the US, you probably don’t need an SSN. In fact, without a Social Security number, you can still enjoy some public and private services and benefits. Although you are still required to provide a Social Security number when you apply for such services or benefits, you may fill in the blanks asking for a Social Security number “Not Applicable” (including USCIS forms), which will not cause you to ‘s application was rejected.

Without an SSN, you can get a driver’s license, open a bank account, and file a tax return (using an ITIN ). However, in most cases, you cannot buy health insurance or apply for a credit card yourself. In some cases, you can be added to your spouse’s health insurance plan and credit card as an authorized user without an SSN.

Foreigners can set up a C-corp or Limited Liability Company (LLC) without a Social Security Number. However, when applying for a corporate tax identification number (EIN) with the IRS, you must provide information on a company principal with an SSN. Without an EIN, a company cannot open a bank account in the United States.

As a foreigner, who is eligible for a Social Security Number?

Generally, only foreign nationals authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to work in the United States can obtain a Social Security number. Such foreigners include:

  • lawful permanent resident (green card);
  • foreign workers with a valid work visa/status;
  • Foreigners with a valid work permit (EAD);
  • Foreigners with entry stamps that allow work. can assist you in preparing various applications related to immigration. For example, I-485 Domestic Adjustment of Status for Green Card, I-130 Immigrant Petition for Spouse, Parent, Child or Sibling, I-751 Two-Year Temporary Green Card to Full Green Card, I-765 Application for Employment Card, N-400 Application for Naturalization, I-131 Petition for Re-entry Permit, Re-entry Permit or Refugee Travel Document, and more petitions. All you need to do is answer some simple questions online and upload the supporting documents to our online platform, and we can prepare your application documents for you. All application documents will be carefully reviewed by a professional immigration attorney to ensure that the application is approved by the USCIS.

How to apply for a social security number for the first time?

Assuming you qualify for a Social Security number, you can apply for it at any local Social Security office. You can find a Social Security office near you. In the following cases, you do not need to apply in person to Social Security.

If you entered the United States on an immigrant visa, you became a lawful permanent resident when you entered the United States on an immigrant visa. In this case, your Social Security Number will likely be mailed to you automatically within a month of entering the United States. If you haven’t received it after a month, it’s best to check with the Social Security Administration in person. It is common for Social Security workers to forget to issue cards.

If you have filed Form I-765 for employment authorization with USCIS, you can apply for a Social Security number directly on that form. In doing so, as long as the I-765 petition is approved by USCIS, the SSN will be mailed to you after the I-765 approval notice. Again, if you haven’t received it after a month, it’s best to check with Social Security in person.

Generally, you will only get one SSN in your lifetime. If your SSN card is lost, you can go to Social Security to get a new card with the same Social Security number.

Why does my SSN card look different from others?

SSN cards come in two formats. If you were originally issued a Social Security Number as a Lawful Permanent Resident, you will be issued a Social Security Number in the sample 1 format below. With this SSN format, you do not need to present additional documents to prove your work permit in the United States. If you are not already a lawful permanent resident, you will be issued an SSN of Sample 2 below. In Sample 2, the SSN card has the sentence “Work only if authorized by the Department of Homeland Security”, which means that you must present other immigration status documents to prove your work permit in the United States.

Sample 1 – SSN

Sample 2-SSN

Do I have to change my SSN after getting my green card?

This is not mandatory but is recommended as you will get the SSN card in Sample 1, which certifies your work permit in the US. After the replacement, you’ll get a new Social Security number card with the same Social Security number, but with the phrase “only to work if authorized by the Department of Homeland Security” removed.

Do I have to report to the Social Security Administration when I become a US citizen?

Social Security benefits for US citizens differ from those for legal permanent residents. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you update your status with the Office of Social Security after you become a US citizen.

What if I use someone else’s SSN?

If you use someone else’s Social Security number and are involved in identity theft, it is a crime that could make you ineligible for a green card or other immigration benefits. Never enter an SSN other than yours on a USCIS form without consulting an immigration attorney.

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