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SSA Explains How Foreign Workers Can Get Social Security Numbers


The Social Security Administration (SSA) lists the following documentation required of a foreign worker in order to obtain a Social Security number (SSN) for work purposes:

  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)-stamped work-authorized status on an I-94 (e.g., L-1 is work-authorized inherent in status), or
  • I-551 Permanent Resident Card (“green card”), or
  • Machine-readable immigrant visa with temporary work authorization language embedded on the face of the visa (upon endorsement, this serves as a temporary I-551 evidencing permanent residence for one year), or
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD): I-766 or I-688B

B-2 temporary visitors for pleasure (tourists) are not authorized by DHS to work in the U.S. so they cannot be assigned SSNs for work. The only other way for a B-2 to get an SSN, which a spokesperson for the SSA said is rare, is if he or she qualifies for a non-work SSN. The only valid non-work reasons are:

  • a federal statute or regulation requires that the individual provide his or her SSN to get a particular benefit or service to which he or she has otherwise established entitlement;
  • a state or local law requires the individual, who is legally in the U.S., to provide his or her SSN to get public assistance benefits to which entitlement has been established otherwise and for which all other requirements have been met.

For more information, see “Foreign Workers and Social Security Numbers,” and “Social Security Numbers for Noncitizens“.

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Ivener & Fullmer LLP, a nationally recognized law firm, has successfully assisted hundreds of clients in immigration matters.

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