How to get a Social Security Number in the U.S.

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Are you an American citizen? Probably not. That’s why searching for a social security number you have reached here. Yes, you are exactly at the right place.

We will provide a complete guide on what social security number is and how to get one as a Non-American citizen.

So, stay attached to us and read the guide thoroughly to get the job done for yourself. Here we go.

Let’s start by discovering what a social security number is?

What is a Social Security Number?

A social security number is a nine-digit number, which is granted as an identification number to the U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and non-immigrant residents.

Non-immigrant residents are skilled and educated individuals who are employed in several occupations outside the United States. The H-1B visa allows foreign workers to work for a specific employer in the United States temporarily.

Why is there a need to get a Social Security Number?

If you are not an American citizen, and you want to do a job in the United States, you will require a social security number to get employed in the U.S.

All these citizens in America necessarily require a Social Security Number. Social Security number is required to do work, collect Social Security benefits and pensions, and to avail many other such facilities.

Furthermore, a Social Security number helps to report wages to the government. It determines the person’s eligibility for availing Social Security benefits.

Who can get a Social Security Number?

Temporary workers, as well as those people who lie in the non-immigrant visa status, are allowed to work in the U.S. by DHS, are eligible to get an SSN.

Those people who are on a non-employment based temporary visa and are not allowed to work, cannot apply for a Social Security Number.

So, we can summarize that only those non-citizens who are authorized to work in the U.S. are eligible for a Social Security number.

Types of Social Security Number

Generally, there are three different types of social security numbers or social security cards. Let’s discuss them

Social Security Number for U.S. Citizens

This is the most common type of Social Security Number. It has the person’s name and social security number on the card. This type of social security card is given to U.S. citizens and the legal permanent residents.

Social Security Card for Temporary Workers

The second type of social security number is given to temporary workers in the U.S. or those in non-immigrant status. Such people are valid for employment “with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authorization” and can be used to satisfy I-9 eligibility requirements.

Social Security Card for Tax Purposes

The final type of Social Security Card is for tax purposes. It cannot be used with the I-9 form or for employment.

How to get a social security number in the us

How to Get a Social Security Number?

Following is a guide on how to get a social security number in the U.S. The process revolves around two different procedures depending on your visa and immigration status.

Apply for a Social Security Number Upfront with your Visa

If you are above 18 years old, you can apply for a social security number from your native country while applying for an immigrant visa. The U.S. government won’t require any further information and will use the same information that you provided to apply for an immigrant visa.

The process will start, and your social security card, when ready, will be dispatched to the mentioned address after about three weeks of your arrival in the U.S.

Additionally, if you apply for the Social Security number outside the U.S., you do not have to physically visit an American Social Security office after entering into the United States.

Applying for Social Security Number Separately

As a non-immigrant, if you did not apply for a social security number while applying for an immigrant visa, then you will have to visit the social security office in the U.S. to apply for an SSN.

To do so, you will have to bring your petition and approval notice, which shows that you are legally allowed to work in the U.S. as well as your legal immigration status.

However, it is recommended to wait for ten days after arriving in the country so that it becomes easier for the Social Security Administration to verify your Department of Homeland Security documents online. That’s how your process will speed up, and you will be issued a social security number quickly. 

Furthermore, there are no charges of applying for a Social Security number. The process is entirely free of cost.

Documents Required to Apply for an SSN

There is not a big list of the documents that would be required to apply for an SSN. Generally, the following documents are required.

  • Fill the application form named as Form 5
  • Two original documents, showcasing your identity, immigration status, and work eligibility.

A work permit can be used as proof of both i.e., identity and work-authorized immigration status.

Some other documents that may be required include:

  • Your Immigrant Visa
  • An employment-based admission stamp
  • I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
  • Work permits
  • Your valid U.S. passport
  • Employment Authorization Documents (EAD).

You can bring your birth certificate or passport as proof of your age, but two separate documents will be needed to prove the eligibility for a social security number.

Additional Documents Required for International Students

International Students or Foreign Exchange visitors are allowed to work on a part-time basis. However, they will be asked to show other documents to prove their status.

For example, International students may be asked to show the most recent I-20 Certificates of Eligibility for Non-immigrant Student Status.

Similarly, For J Visas, the DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status is required.

You must bring original documents with you not the photocopied ones.


Social Security Number is necessarily required if you want to live and work in the U.S. The process of getting an SSN is quite easy and is free of cost.

Follow the instructions given above and apply for an SSN for yourself right now. However, if you are feeling any difficulties, feel free to ask us in the comments section.

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