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.
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:
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.
There are two ways in which you can get a social security card for work only:
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.
Before you get started on this application form, it will be helpful to have all your documents ready. These include:
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.
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.
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.
To complete the SS-5, you’ll need to prove each of the above categories. Here are some acceptable forms of documentation:
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:
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.
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:
This applies to both the students and the spouses and families of the student.
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:
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:
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.