Will I receive a Social Security Number?

If you do not already possess a social security number (SSN), you can apply for one at the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) office. Before an SSN can be issued to you, the Social Security Administration must verify your nonimmigrant status, using information from the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonimmigrant Information System (NIIS) database. It takes approximately 10 business days from the time you enter the U.S. for this data to be entered into the system and made available to SSA for verification purposes. You should therefore wait 10 business days after entering the United States to file your SSN application, in order to minimize verification delays. Note that if you depart the U.S. while your application is pending, the system will indicate your departure and the application will be suspended. You will then have to reapply upon your reentry to the U.S. We therefore recommend that you remain in the United States until your SSN is issued.

If you hold a nonimmigrant visa status that allows you to work in the U.S. (e.g., H-1B), the SSA will typically issue you a social security card that is restricted and that indicates you are authorized to work with USCIS authorization only. Without a social security number, you may not be able to get on the company payroll. If you are applying for permanent residence, once the application has been approved, you should apply for a new card that is not restricted (note, however, that your Social Security number itself will not change). For more information about applying for a social security number and office locations, you can visit the SSA website at: http://www.ssa.gov.

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