Social Security Numbers for Non-Citizens

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How Can a Non-Citizen Obtain a Social Security Number?

Social Security is a government program to provide financial support for the elderly and disabled. You must obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) if you want to work in the United States. If a federal, state, or local law requires a SSN to get a particular benefit or service, you will need to obtain a SSN.

Do I Need a Social Security Number?

A social security number offers you many benefits, but you do not necessarily need one. You can do many things without a SSN, such as:

How Do I Apply for a Social Security Number?

You must call or visit a Social Security office and fill out a Social Security Card application. When submitting your application you will need to provide original documents verifying your age, name, and your non-citizen status. If you want to work, you also must prove your work eligibility.

If you want a SSN for a state or local government requirement you must also include on letterhead stationary:

Do I Need a Social Security Number to Pay Taxes?

Unless you are authorized to work, you do not need a SSN to pay taxes. If you do need a SSN for a tax purpose and you are not working, then you can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number from the IRS.

When Will I Get My Card?

Because your documents must be verified with other agencies, and because of heightened security measures, you should expect your card to be issued from anywhere between two weeks and three months.

I'm Still Waiting for my Social Security Card. Can My Employer Pay Me?

If you have already applied for social security card and are still waiting for its arrival, you are eligible for a paycheck. If your employer needs a SSN to issue a paycheck, the Social Security office can issue a confirmation that you have applied.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Applying for a Social Security Card is usually a simple process. But if you have a complex issue or were denied a card, an immigration attorney can help you resolve your problem.

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Last Modified: 08-17-2011 04:07 PM PDT

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