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 use the Social Security Office Locator to find the Social Security Office nearest to you and its hours of operation.
We recommend waiting 7-10 days after first entering the U.S. in a work authorized status before applying for a Social Security number, as there is typically a lag in information sharing between CBP and the Social Security Administration. If you apply too soon, you may be instructed to return at a later date when they are able to verify your eligibility to apply. Only individuals in a work authorized status are eligible to apply for a Social Security card.
You should take the following items with you to the Social Security Office:
- Form SS-5 (available here: https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf);
- Valid Passport;
- Most recent I-94 document issued by CBP (retrieve here: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/recent-search);
- Original birth certificate (if available).
The application for a Social Security number and card is free of charge. You should receive your Social Security card in the mail within three weeks of applying. If you do not receive your card within that time or have any other questions, you should contact the Social Security Office at 1-800-772-1213.
Please be sure to read the full instructions provided by the Social Security Administration before applying in case there are any relevant updates.