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How to Get a Social Security Card for Work Only

To be lawfully employed in the U.S., you need to provide your employer with a social security number (SSN). This is the number printed on a social security card. But not all social security cards are the same. In fact, there are three types of social security—one of which has a restriction that says “Valid for work only with DHS authorization.”

This means that the social security number printed on the card is “valid” only for work purposes. And the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the one giving the authorization.

Who needs this type of social security card? And if you need the SSN card, how do you get one?

Let’s dive in.

Who Needs Social Security for Work Only?

As mentioned, there are three types of social security cards. Each SSN card is designated for a certain group of people living in the U.S. The three types are:

  • Social security card with no restrictions. These are granted to U.S. citizens and permanent residents—those who are permitted to reside and work in the U.S. indefinitely. Permanent resident status is granted through an employer’s petition, marrying a U.S. citizen, sponsorship by a close relative, or through the lottery program.
  • Social security card with restriction: Valid for work only with DHS authorization. These are granted to noncitizens who are temporarily residing in the United States and who have been granted permission to work.
  • Social security card with restriction: Not valid for employment. These social security cards are granted to those who may or may not be living in the U.S., but who need an SSN in order to receive federally mandated benefits or services.

What is a Social Security Card for Work Only Needed For?

It’s needed for work, of course!

Okay… Maybe there’s a little more to the answer.

You might also be wondering how to get work authorization in U.S. If you have been lawfully admitted to the U.S. and want to apply for employment, the employer is legally obligated to obtain certain information from you (the employee). Among other identification verification documents, the employer needs to fill out a Form I-9 from the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).

On this form, the social security number is one part of the information.

So, if you’re seeking employment, you need to know how to get a social security card.

How to Get a Social Security Card for Work Only

There are two ways in which you can get a social security card for work only:

  1. USCIS’s Form I-765 (known as the “Employment Authorization Application”)
  2. SS-5 Form (basic application for a social security card)

Form I-765

The Form I-765 is an application for employment authorization that enables you to gain an employment authorization document (EAD). You can use the employment authorization document to apply for a social security card (this is the next method), or you can apply for a social security card on the same form.

Required Documents to Complete

Before you get started on this application form, it will be helpful to have all your documents ready. These include:

  • Form I-94 – This is the Nonimmigrant Arrival and Departure Record. This can be substituted with your government travel documents or passport.
  • Previous EAD – If you have already applied for a Form I-765 and were approved for an EAD, then you can leverage this to make the process easier.
  • Two identical photographs – These photos need to be passport-style, showing your face clearly in good lighting.
  • Government-issued ID – If this is your first time receiving an EAD, then you must also have an ID present with the application.
  • (Optional) Form G-28 – If you are being represented by someone, an attorney or representative, then you will also need this form with you.

It should be noted that these are general requirements that all applicants will need. There are special requirements for different parties as designated by the USCIS. You can find the specific requirements for your situation on their website.

Filing Fee

The filing fee for a Form I-765 is $410.

You might be required to pay an additional $85 for biometrics services fee, depending on your situation.

SS-5 Form

Say you already filled out a Form I-765 and weren’t aware that you were able to apply for a social security card through that form. That doesn’t mean you can’t get one!

With your new EAD, you can apply using the SS-5 form. In fact, all you need for the SS-5 application form are two original documents proving your identity, immigration status, work eligibility, and age.

Required Documents to Complete

To complete the SS-5, you’ll need to prove each of the above categories. Here are some acceptable forms of documentation:

  • Immigrant visa
  • I-94
  • Work permit
  • Employment admission stamp
  • EAD (which you may have received from the I-765 above)

The Filing Process

There are two methods for this filing process: in-person filing or online electronic filing.

In-person filing requires you to locate your local social security administration office and bring all the requisite documents to apply. Because social security offices aren’t open on the weekends, and most social security office locations are open between the hours of 9am and 4pm, the window available to apply is small. This can cause long lines at the social security office, so be prepared (aka bring a book!).

Or utilize the services of electronic filing tools.

Electronic filing with E-records tools—like the ones from NotYourSocialSecurity—allow for a simple, smooth process end-to-end. This an online service that does the processing and paperwork for you—all you need to do is:

  • Fill in the online forms
  • NYSS will send you all the appropriate documents filled out through secure mail
  • You can review all the documents to confirm accuracy, then place in the prepaid envelope and mail off
  • Receive your social security card in a matter of weeks

This easy-to-use process makes applying and receiving your social security card much simpler.

Plus, should you ever need a duplicate or replacement social security card, or if you’re applying for a new social security card, then you can use the E-records tool for this as well.

Additional Restrictions of the SS-5

As mentioned above, different groups of people are able to apply for different social security cards. If you are an international student or a foreign exchange visitor, for example, you can apply for a social security card with work authorization; you’ll just need extra documentation.

If you are on a J-1, J-2, F, or M-1 visa, then you’ll need to provide:

  • DS-2019 document – This is the certificate of eligibility for exchange visitor status. This is required for all J visas.
  • I-20 document – This is the certificate of eligibility of immigrant student status.

This applies to both the students and the spouses and families of the student.

Other Documents Needed for Employment

So, what is DHS authorization for? The reason for trying to get a social security card with DHS authorization is to become legally employable. But the social security card isn’t the only piece of information you’ll need to provide employers.

There are two pieces of information an employer needs to provide the government when hiring an employee:

  • Proof of identification
  • Proof of eligibility to work (or work authorization)

For U.S. citizens and permanent residents, something like a passport or permanent resident card acts as both of these forms of proof. If you applied for a social security card for work only, then you’ll have satisfied the second condition, but not the first. To satisfy proof of identity you’ll need either a List A or List B documentation as determined in the Form I-9:

  • List A Documentation – This establishes both proof of identity and employment authorization. These include, but are not limited to:
    • U.S. passport
    • Permanent residency card
    • EAD
    • Foreign passport with I-551 stamp
  • List B Documentation – This establishes proof of identity only. These include, but are not limited to:
    • Driver license
    • State-issued ID
    • Voter registration card
    • School ID (given that it is current, active, and includes a photograph)
    • U.S. military card or U.S. military draft record
  • List C Documentation – This establishes proof of employment authorization only. These include, but are not limited to:
    • Social security card that is unrestricted
    • Social security card that is authorized for work only
    • State issued birth certificate
    • Form I-179
    • Form I-197

Take the First Step With E-Records Tools

The process of getting a social security card can feel overwhelming. On top of that, the wait times and long lines at the physical location can eat away your day. Should you have one missing document or a form filled out incorrectly, then that could turn one day at your local social security administration office into many.

Luckily, with our online tools, there is another way.

Whether you’re applying for a brand new social security card, or you need one replaced, duplicated, or changed—NYSS makes it easy for everybody to apply for a social security card from the comfort of home.

Skip the lines. Skip the hassle. Take the first step toward a social security card with NotYourSocialSecurity.