Expat FAQ

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How do I apply for a social security number in the USA?

A Social Security number is vital for many everyday aspects of life in the USA. You need it to get a job, apply for a drivers license, collect Social Security benefits and receive government services. Most people memorize their number and keep their card in a safe place as it is rarely necessary to physically show the card.

How to Apply

Take (or mail) your completed application and necessary documents to your local Social Security office.

All documents submitted must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. Photocopies or notarized copies of documents are not acceptable. Get a certified copy of a document showing a birth, marriage or divorce that took place in the U.S. (If you are filing an application on behalf of someone else, you also must show us evidence of your relationship to, or responsibility for, the person for whom you are filing. You must also show us proof of your identity).

If you are applying from your home country, you can fill out an application for an immigrant visa with the U.S. Department of State. In almost all cases, if you apply for a Social Security number and card with your immigrant visa application, you do not have to visit a Social Security office in the United States.

Necessary Documents

  • Application For A Social Security Card (Form SS-5)
  • U.S. citizenship (U.S. birth certificate or a U.S. passport)
  • OR documents of immigration status (acceptable documents include: Form I-551 (includes machine- readable immigrant visa with your unexpired foreign passport); I-94 with your unexpired foreign passport; or Work permit from DHS (I-766)


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