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Social Security Number - Guide to Apply

Social Security Number - Guide to Apply

Social Security Number (SSN) is a nine-digit tax identification number. It is an essential document that you will need on a day-to-day basis while living in the US. The Social Security Administration (SSA) assigns this number to US citizens, permanent residents, and eligible non-immigrant workers. The number is very important as it enables the SSA to report wages to the government as well as track the Social Security benefits of an individual.

In this post, we will look at the various aspects of SSN and find out how to apply for a Social Security Number.

What is Social Security Number?

As stated above, SSN is a tax identification number that helps to track an individual’s income and determine benefits. Additionally, the number is used for taxation and other purposes. This includes opening a bank account, obtaining credit, obtaining private insurance or government benefits, purchasing a home or a car, and much more.

The SSN has become a de facto national identification and thus, it is very important to apply for it. However, one must not confuse the SSN with a legal resident permit. This means even with an SSN in place, one requires a clear visa status to live or work in the US.

When and Why You Need a SSN?

Before you apply for Social Security Number, it is important to understand the circumstances when you will need it. Anytime you get a new job, your employer will request your SSN. Consequently, your employer’s accounting professionals will use the number to notify your income to the IRS, i.e. Internal Revenue Service. They will also report your Social Security wages to the SSA.

Apart from this, there are a few more scenarios where you will need your Social Security Number.

  • When opening a bank account with any US Financial Institution
  • When applying for a federal loan
  • When applying for any type of public assistance
  • When applying for a passport
  • When enrolling in Medicare
  • To obtain a driver’s license
  • On your tax return

How to Apply for SSN?

Applying for an SSN is a simple process. Primarily, there are two ways in which you can get a Social Security Card and Number.

  1. If you are 18 or above, you can apply for Social Security Number in your home country along with the submission of your immigrant visa application to the US Department of State. In this case, the government will use the same information submitted for the immigrant visa to apply for a SSN.

Your SSN will arrive at your stated mailing address in about three weeks after you reach the US. This is when you apply for the SSN outside of the US.

  1. If you are not an immigrant and failed to apply for an SSN while applying for an immigrant visa, you must carry your petition. Along with that, you need an approval notice that says your legal immigration status and authorization to work in the US have been granted. After that, you can apply for a Social Security Card and Number by visiting the Social Security office in the US.

The SSA advises all non-immigrants to wait for at least 10 days after arriving in the US before they apply for the SSN. This helps the Department of Homeland Security to easily verify your documents online and accelerate your application.

Documents Required to Apply for Social Security Number

To apply for an SSN, you need to have the following documents in place:

  • A valid passport
  • Application for Social Security Card (Form SS-5)
  • A copy of your I-94 arrival or departure record
  • Social security letter obtained from OIS
  • Original SEVIS – DS-2019, applicable for J-1/J-2 Visa holders and I-20, applicable for F-1 Visa holders
  • Proof of eligibility for employment. This can be an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), a job offering letter, or I-20 endorsed for CPT.

It must be noted that all original documents are needed to obtain a Social Security Card. Any photocopies or rubber stamped copies will not be accepted.

You can even ask Social Security for a new Social Security Number under some situations, for instance, if you are a victim of identity theft or domestic violence.

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