Work Eligibility Without a Social Security Number
March 10, 2006

What happens when a foreign national is in possession of a recently issued alien registration card/I-551 passport stamp (“green card”), employment authorization document OR work visa, wants to work, but has yet to be issued a social security number?

Unfortunately this question arises all too often these days as the Social Security Administration is anything but swift when it comes to issuing Social Security numbers for those with valid immigration documentation. In fact, it is not uncommon for the individual to wait more than 2 or 3 months following their submission of their Social Security application to be issued a number.

For certain, no provision of immigration or labor law prevents an employer from allowing such a foreign worker to start work, as long that worker’s Social Security application is on file and the worker is otherwise in possession of valid immigration that authorizes employment. It is just a matter of the employer having to make logistical arrangements for their payroll system to accommodate the delay, while the worker awaits issuance of their number. And of course it is up to the worker to provide their employer with the number as soon as it is issued, so appropriate tax reporting measures can be taken.

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