While working in the United States your wages must be reported to the IRS and applicable deductions must be taken. To ensure proper reporting you must obtain a Social Security number and card, which will be used to report your wages to the government and determine your eligibility for future Social Security benefits.
You must visit a Social Security Office in person to apply for a Social Security number and card. You can locate the Social Security Office nearest to you and its hours of operation by selecting this link: https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp and entering your Zip Code.
We recommend waiting 7-10 days after your first entrance to the U.S. in a work authorized status before applying, as there is typically a lag in information sharing between CBP and Social Security – if you apply earlier you may be instructed to return at a later date when they can verify you are eligible to apply. Only individuals who enter in a work authorized status are eligible to apply for a Social Security card.
When you visit the Social Security Office, you need to bring the following documents with you:
- A copy of the Form SS-5 (available here: https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf);
- Your Passport;
- A copy of your I-94 (retrieve here: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/recent-search);
- Your original birth certificate (if available).
Your Social Security number and card is free of charge. Once they have collected all your information and verified your documents, your number and card will be mailed to you. If you do not receive your card within three weeks of applying, you should contact the Social Security Office at: 1-800-772-1213.
Please be sure to read the full instructions provided by the SSA before applying in case there are program updates. As always, feel free to contact our office, should you have any questions or concerns!
** This memo is provided for informational and discussion purposes only. It does not act as a substitute for direct legal contact on an individual basis **