A social security number is a nine-digit identification code the U.S. government uses to track earnings and number of years worked. In order to be hired by a U.S. company, you need to be able to provide this social security number (SSN). This number can be found on a social security card—which is issued to U.S. citizens, as well as residents and noncitizens who are eligible to work in the U.S.
However, there are different social security cards issued depending on an individual’s situation. One of these social security cards comes with a restriction that says: “Valid for work only with DHS authorization.”
If your card has this restriction, you may be wondering what this entails. Below, we’ll discuss:
First things first, DHS stands for Department of Homeland Security. DHS authorization then means that the DHS is giving noncitizens the ability to work in the U.S. This is one of three kinds of social security cards that are available:
Most countries—not just the U.S.—prevent noncitizens from gaining employment without authorization. Acquiring social security for work only protects both sides of the labor force.
Noncitizens who don’t have the requisite documents to work legally are often subject to harsh labor conditions and unfair treatment by employers. Additionally, this lowers the labor cost for all employees, including citizens.
This is the importance of noncitizen labor laws and granting DHS authorized social security cards. With the ability to grant work permission and track who is working, government agencies can better track the conditions of noncitizen workers.
It’s important to note, however, that a social security card with DHS authorization is not the only document you need to work. In fact, it can’t be used by employers to verify work status. While it allows you to work within the U.S., it does not establish both identity and employment authorization.
Does this seem a little backward? Or at least confusing?
That’s okay. Here’s how employment documents work: The government classifies three different types of acceptable documents for verifying employment authorization and identity. The DHS authorized social security card is classified under “List C,” which are documents that authorize employment, but don’t verify identity.
Thus, if you have a social security card with DHS authorized, you will still need to provide your employer with documents under List A and List B:
These documents provide employers with all the necessary information they need to hire an employee. All documents must not be expired:
There are other forms of List A documents, these being the most common. You can find a full list through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Handbook.
Unlike List A documents, List B documents do not authorize you to work and must be paired with a document from either List C or List A to receive lawful employment. These documents also must be active, and can’t be expired:
Should the individual be under the age of 18, these documents can also be substituted with school records, such as report cards, hospital records from clinics, physicians, or nurse practitioners, and daycare records including nursery schools and pre-K.
List C documents, such as a DHS authorized social security card, establish work authorization but don’t act as identification. Thus, if you are providing this work authorization document to employers, it must be accompanied by documents listed in List B or List A.
Examples of List C documents include:
You can also present a work authorization document from the DHS, should you have one.
No. Social security cards and social security numbers do not expire.
The informational documents needed for a DHS social security card do, however. To that end, always be sure to have any expiration date firmly in mind to avoid mishaps with passports, work permits, or unauthorized work permits.
Though the cards do not expire, you may find yourself needing to replace, correct, or apply for a new one (should it have been lost or stolen). Additionally, if you are granted citizenship or permanent residence, then you can apply for an unrestricted social security card.
What do all these processes look like?
The process of applying for a DHS authorized social security card follows the same steps as any other social security card application. Though, you’ll want to take special attention to apply for the correct document. This process can be lengthy with the time it takes to get a response—and if your employer needs this work authorization, then you don’t want to go through multiple rounds of back-and-forth with your local government office.
If you want to ensure you’re applying correctly and go through the process quickly, consider an automated e-record filing assistant, such as the E-Records Tools from NotYourSocialSecurity.
With NYSS, you can skip the long lines at your local social security office—in fact, you don’t even need to leave your house!
How does the application process work?
To begin, you’ll want to ensure you have all the requisite documents. That includes four main categories:
You’ll notice that some of these documents act as more than one proof. When setting out on the application process, try to have one of each category so the process is smooth.
Should you need a social security card replaced, duplicated, or issued brand new, you won’t want to put this off. Yet, unfortunately, social security office locations are only open during business hours. And the lines are reminiscent of the DMV.
This means, not only do you have to take time off work (since they’re not open on weekends), but you need a lot of time. The same applies to the long hold times on the phone.
To avoid taking extra trips back and forth between home and the social security line, just use online E-record tools from NotYourSocialSecurity. It’s safe, secure, and best of all, it’s quick. You’re already online; you know you need a social security card—why not skip the line and the hassle?