Noncitizens to apply for Social Security number

Apply for Social Security Number

Who Can Use This?


If you’re a non-citizen applying to enter the U.S., you must:

  • Request a Social Security number card as part of your immigrant visa application; and
  • Be a lawfully admitted permanent resident.

If you’re a refugee, we’re sorry but you can’t apply for a Social Security number card in your country of origin.

Why use this Process?

If you apply for a Social Security number (SSN) card when you apply for an immigrant visa, you can save yourself time and worry. If you use this process, you won’t have to:

  • Find a Social Security office near your new home;
  • Go in person to the Social Security office;
  • Wait in line;
  • Apply for a Social Security number at a local Social Security office.

Instead, the U.S. government will use the same information that you give to apply for an immigrant visa to apply for an SSN. Then, once you arrive in the U.S., you can expect your SSN card at your mailing address in about 3 weeks.

One less thing to worry about as you settle in your new country!

What Social Security does for workers and their families.

Why you need a Social Security number.

What you need to do

We have listed the whole process here, but you only need to do Step 2!

StepsWho…Does What…
Step 1U.S. Embassies
U.S. Consulates
Collect information needed for a Social Security number on Form DS-230 (Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration) or Form DS-260 (Immigrant Visa Electronic Application) , as part of the immigrant visa process.
Step 2YOUAnswer “Yes” to the following questions on the Form DS-230 or DS-260

Do you want the Social Security Administration to assign you an SSN (and issue a card) or issue you a new card (if you have an SSN)? You must answer “Yes” to this question and to the “Consent To Disclosure” in order to receive an SSN and/or card.

I authorize disclosure from this form to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the Social Security Administration (SSA), such other U.S. Government agencies as may be required for the purpose of assigning me an SSN and issuing me a Social Security card, and I authorize the SSA to share my SSN with the INS.

The applicant’s response does not limit or restrict the Government’s ability to obtain his or her SSN, or other information on this form, for enforcement or other purposes as authorized by law.
Step 3U.S. Embassies
U.S. Consulates
Send your information to Department of Homeland Security.
Step 4Department
Homeland Security
Admits you into the U.S.
Sends your information to the Social Security Administration.
Step 5Social Security
If you don’t receive your card within 3 weeks of being admitted to the U.S., go into the nearest Social Security office or Card Center with proof of age, identity and employment authorization:

Helping Someone Who Is Immigrating to the U.S.?

If you’re a friend, relative, or potential employer of a non-citizen who plans to immigrate here:

  1. Print the one-page flyer, SSNs for Immigrant Visa Applicants Flyer, we’ve provided, and mail it to that person. Alternative formats:
    MSWord (.doc) or Adobe (.pdf)
  2. Print and send the information sheet titled, Social Security Numbers for U.S. Permanent Residents Flyer. Alternative format:  MSWord (.doc).

    Now a part of the U.S. Department of State’s immigration visa material, the sheet describes the process for starting the Social Security number process while still in one’s native country.

The letters PDF symbol indicate that a document is in the Portable Document Format (PDF). You need Adobe(R) Acrobat(R) Reader version 5.0 or higher to view these files. Acrobat(R) Reader is available for free from the Adobe website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions. If you did not find what you were looking for, you can ask your question at

What if I don’t receive my SSN card within 3 weeks of arrival?

Contact us. In the United States, you may call the telephone number listed for the Social Security office in the local telephone directory under “United States Government” or Social Security’s toll-free number 1-800-772-1213.

Do I need to pay a fee to receive an SSN card?

No. We don’t charge a fee to assign a Social Security number or issue a Social Security card. If you should lose the card, we will replace it for free. We suggest you keep your card in a safe place, as you would any important document.

Will SSA share any information with others?

No. We keep strictly confidential all information you provide for a Social Security number and do not disclose it except as provided for under the law. For example, we may share information with other government agencies as permitted under the Privacy Act. For more information about this, please contact us.

I didn’t apply for an SSN card through my visa process. How can I get an SSN card?

If you didn’t request a Social Security number card as part of your visa application, you must apply for a card at a Social Security office. When you have a permanent address where we can mail your card, please contact us to find out where to apply.

I will apply for a Social Security card at a field office. What do I need to bring with me?

When you visit a Social Security office to apply for a Social Security card for each family member applying for a number, take:

  • The passport or travel document with your Machine Readable Immigrant Visa (MRIV);
  • Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551), if you have received it; and
  • Birth record.

A Social Security representative will help you complete the application. You should receive your card about 2 weeks after we have everything we need to process your application. If we need to verify any document with the issuing agency, it may take longer.

What if I change my address after I fill out all the forms?

If you change your mailing address after arriving and before you receive your Social Security card, call us. If you change your mailing address after arriving and after receiving your Social Security card, you do not need to contact us.

I need to contact Social Security before I leave for the U.S. Who do I call?

If you need to contact us before you leave for the United States, we are assisted outside the United States by United States embassies, United States consulates, and Veteran’s Affairs Regional Office in Manila which assists us in the Philippines. Click here for the information about where to contact us.

Forms, flyers and Government Links


Department of State Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration (DS-230)(.pdf format) or the electronic Department of State form (DS-260) Immigrant Visa Electronic Application


SSNs for Immigrant Visa Applicants Flyer

Alternative formats: MSWord (.doc) or Adobe (.pdf)

Social Security Numbers for U.S. Permanent Residents Flyer

Alternative formats: MSWord (.doc) or Plain Text (.txt)

Apply Your Social Security Number While Applying for your Work Permit Flyer

Alternative formats: MSWord (.docx) or Adobe (.pdf)

U.S. Government Links

Department of State

Department of Homeland Security

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