What is a Social Security Number?
Social Security Number is the number assigned to individuals in the United States of America by the Government of United States of America. The concept of issuing Social Security Number has been practiced by the Government of the United States. This social security number issued to individuals residing in the United States of America help the Government of USA to use it for the purposes of extending Social Security Systems including taxation. This Social Security Number also acts as the personal identification number of the individual. Even the non-citizens of United States of America who would be temporarily working in the United States can apply for a social security number.
This Social Security Number is required to open an account in any bank in USA, apply for a driving license in USA, apply for a credit card in India, purchase a car in USA, open a retirement account in USA, get a domestic health insurance in USA, filing tax return in USA, and even for employment purposes in the USA.
The Unique Identification Number or the Aadhar Card (UID) issued to Indian Citizens is based on the US concept of Issuing a Social Security Number. However, Social Security Number is only issued in United States of America.
Different Types of Social Security Cards
There can be three different types of Social Security Cards. They are:
- Unrestricted Card: This type of card is given to all the citizens of the United States of America. This card is also given to all the permanent residents of United States of America. The permanent residents do not obtain the citizenship of United States of America due to their birth but they become permanent residents of USA since they are valid green card holders of USA. This card enables the cardholder to work freely in the USA. This ideally means that the individual can work for any employer without obtaining requisite permissions from the requisite government agencies. This card is, thus, said to have no annotations attached.
- Restricted Card: This type of card, as the name suggests, comes with annotations for the holder individual. Such a card is valid for “Work only with USCIS Authorization.” This type of card is given to individuals who are visiting United States of America on temporary assignments for a sponsoring employer, i.e., individuals who have gone to the United States of America on H1 and L1 visas.
- Non-Work Card: This type of card usually comes with an annotation of being not valid for employment. Such a card is issued to certain limited types of workers.
Eligibility To Get Social Security Number
There are various types of visa for visiting United States of America. Depending upon the visa type of the individual, they would be eligible for applying for a Social Security Number. Some of the visa types and their eligibilities are enlisted below:
- F-1 Students: Eligible for Social Security Numbers only on evidence of requisite authorization
- F-2 Dependants: Not eligible for Social Security Numbers
- J-1 Students and Scholars: Automatically Eligible for applying for Social Security Number
- J-2 Dependants: Eligible for Social Security Number only if they have applied for work authorization and received their EAD or Employment Authorization Document
- H-1B Employees: Automatically eligible for applying for a Social Security Number
- H-4 Dependants: Not eligible to receive a Social Security Number.
How to Apply for Social Security Number?
Application for Social Security Numbers needs to be given and processed by Social Security Administration by either visiting them online or calling them on their toll-free number. This application process for obtaining a Social Security Number becomes even more important for those individuals who wish to work in the USA.
In order to apply for the card, the individual needs to fill in the form. The form can be obtained from the various offices of Social Security Administration situated in most of the major areas of the USA or can be downloaded from the official website of Social Security Administration. The individual needs to visit the Social Security office with his/her valid passports and his/her other requisite documents including their work permit or EAD. The form needs to be filled in carefully for various details including a local mailing address where the card can be mailed.
Once the officer at the Social Security Administration Office checks the form along with all the supporting requisite documents and is satisfied with the application, the social security number card would then be mailed at the given mailing address within few weeks of application. The Social Security Number Card received by the individual would have the Social Security Number of the individual, name of the individual, and necessary restrictions printed on the card. This social security number is issued only once in the lifetime of any individual and thus the cad needs to be preserved safely.
How to get a Social Security Number for Non-US Citizens?
Only Non-US Citizens who have valid permission to work in USA from the Department of Homeland Security are eligible for applying for a Social Security Number. Such individuals can apply in either of the two following ways:
- He/she can apply in his/her home country before coming to the United States while filing the application for an immigrant visa with the U.S. Department of State. In almost all cases, if the individual applies for a Social Security number and the card with their respective immigrant visa application, they would not require to visit the Social Security office in the United States.
- Otherwise, the Individual can visit the social security office in US to apply for the social security number in person in case the individual is lawfully present in the US with requisite documents to support such application procedure
Documents Required To Get Social Security Number
In order to apply for a new Social Security Number Card, an individual needs to provide at least two documents to prove age, identity and US Citizenship or the immigration status at present.
Documents which prove identity include US Driver’s License; State issued non-driver identity card or US Passport. In the absence of any of these documents, the Social Security Administration might seek to refer to the individual’s employee ID card, School ID card, or a Health Insurance Card (not the Medicare card).
Documents to prove the age of the individual includes his/her Birth certificate. In the absence of such certificate, the Social Security Administration may seek to refer to any religious record made before the age of 5 showing the date of birth of the individual, US Passport, US hospital record of the individual’s date of birth, or any other record showing long-term residence outside the US.
US Citizenship documents include US birth certificate and US Passport. Documents to prove the immigration status of the individual includes the individual’s immigration document. In its absence, I-94 which is the arrival/departure record or admission stamp in the unexpired foreign passport of the individual; I-766 which is the Employment Authorization Document, EAD, work permit of the individual; or the Form I-551 (Lawful Permanent Resident Card, Machine Readable Immigrant Visa) with the individual’s unexpired foreign passport would also suffice.