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Are All Workers Required to Have a Social Security Number?

According to the Social Security Administration, 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 get a job, collect Social Security benefits and receive some other government services.
If you are temporarily in the United States to work, your employer will ask for your Social Security number. In general, only noncitizens authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to work in the United States can get a Social Security number.
These are the nonimmigrant statuses that typically provide work authorization to an individual. It’s important to recognize that you must have nonimmigrant status that allows work authorization PRIOR TO applying for a Social Security card.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must apply for your Social Security card by visiting a Social Security office. Please click here to find a Social Security Office in your area.  The Social Security Administration recommends you wait at least 10 days from your entry to the U.S. before applying for a Social Security card. This will make it easier for the SSA to verify your documents online. You will need to bring the following:
• A completed Form SS-5; and
• At least two original documents providing your identity, work-authorized status in the U.S. and age.
All documents must be either originals or certified copies by the issuing agency.  Regular photocopies are not accepted.
Foreign workers are not required to have a Social Security number before they start work. However, the Internal Revenue Service requires employers to use the Social Security number to report the foreign worker’s wages. While waiting for a Social Security number, an employer can use a letter from the Social Security Administration stating a worker applied for a number, and the worker’s immigration documents to prove authorization to work in the United States. Employers can find more information at
Other Social Security card facts:
• You do not need a Social Security number to get a driver’s license, register for school, obtain private health insurance, or apply for school lunch programs or subsidized housing.
• Although companies such as banks and credit card companies may ask for your Social Security number, you generally are not required to provide one if you don’t have one.
• If you need a Social Security number for tax purposes only, you can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number from the IRS by calling 1-800-TAXFORM.
• If a business or government agency asks you for a Social Security number and you are not authorized to work in the U.S., ask if they can identify you in some other way. In most cases, this will be acceptable.
If you are a foreign national seeking to work in the U.S., a U.S.-based employer seeking to employ a foreign national, or have questions relating to Social Security and immigration issues, please contact Berardi Immigration Law today!