Does a noncitizen need a
Social Security number?
Unless you are a noncitizen who wants to work in the United States, you probably do not need a Social Security number.
Generally, only noncitizens authorized to work in the United States by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can get a Social
Security number. Social Security numbers are used to report an individual’s wages to the government and to determine a person’s eligibility for Social Security benefits. You need a Social Security number to work, collect
Social Security benefits and receive some other government services.
Lawfully admitted noncitizens can get many benefits and services without a Social
Security number. You do not need a number to get a driver’s license, register for school, obtain private health insurance, or to apply for school lunch programs or subsidized housing.
Some organizations use Social Security numbers to identify you in their records. Most, however, will identify you by some other means if you request it.
We cannot assign you a Social Security number solely so you can get a driver’s license or a service that requires a credit check.
Although many companies, such as banks and credit companies, may ask for your Social
Security number, you generally are not required to provide one if you don’t have one.
How can I get a Social Security number and card?
There are two ways you can apply:
• You can apply in your home country before you come to the United States when filing an application for an immigrant visa with the U.S. Department of State. In almost all cases, if you apply for a Social
Security number and card with your immigrant visa application, you do not have to visit a Social Security office in the
United States. (For more information, see www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnvisa); or
• You can visit a Social Security office in person.
If you are not an immigrant or did not apply for a Social Security number on your immigrant visa application, you must have your papers from DHS showing your U.S. immigration status and authorization to work in the United
States. Then you should apply for a Social
Security number and card by visiting an office.
We recommend you wait 10 days after arriving in the United States to apply for a Social
Security number. This will make it easier for us to verify your DHS documents online, which will speed processing of your Social Security number application. Applying for a Social
Security number and card is free. To apply:
• Complete an Application For A Social
Security Card (Form SS-5);
• Show us at least two original documents proving your:
—Work-authorized immigration status;
• Take your completed application and original documents to your local Social Security office.
All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. We also cannot accept a receipt showing you applied for the document.
We may use one document for two purposes.
For example, we may use your DHS work permit as proof of both your identity and workauthorized immigration status. Your birth certificate or passport may serve as proof of age. However, you must provide at least two separate documents.
We will mail your number and card as soon as we have all of your information and have verified your documents with the issuing offices.
Social Security Numbers For Noncitizens
Identity and work-authorized immigration status
To prove your identity and work-authorized immigration status, show us your current U.S. immigration documents and your unexpired foreign passport. Acceptable immigration documents include your:
• Form I-551 (includes machine-readable immigrant visa);
• Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record); or
• Form I-766 (Employment Authorization Card).
Exchange visitors: If you