Social security cards, like a green card, are important documents issued at birth to natural US citizens. People who were not born in the US but who relocate to the United States as permanent residents, as well as those who enter the country temporarily for employment purposes, known as nonimmigrant or temporary workers, may also apply for social security cards.1
Just like natural citizens, social security cards for permanent residents and temporary workers display a name and a unique, nine-digit social security number (SSN). But they may also feature an endorsement from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that reads: “valid for work only with DHS authorization.”
So, what does DHS authorization to work mean on a social security card (SSN card)? Learn how to get work authorization in US, and how to acquire Social Security for work only.
The DHS issues endorsements for work authorizations to foreign passport-carrying nationals who obtain US citizenship and to those who temporarily relocate to the US and plan to work while they’re here. In addition to the 809,100 people who were naturalized in 2021, 2the DHS admitted around 35 million people on a nonimmigrant, temporary basis. Routinely, the people who seek this sort of admission come to the US for one or more of the following reasons:
Additionally, a person may seek temporary admission if they are a representative of a foreign government or if they work for a foreign organization.
The “valid for work only with DHS authorization” endorsement is an important addendum to the social security cards that lawful permanent resident and temporary residents receive. However, the endorsement itself is not enough to prove to an employer that an individual is legally authorized to work in the United States. To prove employment eligibility, temporary workers will need to furnish a few pieces of support documentation to employers.
As an employer, when a potential hire presents a social security card with the endorsement, “valid for work only with DHS authorization,” it simply means you’ll need to request official proof of their authorization to work.3 Employers must keep in mind that a DHS authorization in no way signifies the validity of a person’s immigration status.
As with your permanent employees, when you hire a temporary worker, they’ll need to fill out an I-9 Employment Eligibility form to verify two important pieces of information:
The I-9 form details which acceptable documents are for verifying this information which are distributed across three lists according to whether they are sufficient to prove a person’s identity, work authorization, or both. Examples include things like driver’s licenses, government-issued ID cards, and social security cards.
The exact documents that are required of an employee will depend on their situation. For example, for a natural-born US citizen, a valid passport or passport card is enough to establish both one’s identity and one’s work authorization. Likewise, a permanent resident only needs to provide their permanent resident card.
If you have a social security card valid for work only with DHS authorization endorsement, you’ll need to provide your employer with additional documentation that proves your authorization to work in the United States. In most cases, that means providing your official Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by the DHS.3
The DHS issues several different kinds of employment authorization documents. Depending on your status, your employment authorization document could be any of the following:
Additionally, a Notice of Action or I-797 form from the DHS’s US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) department can be used if presented along with a copy of your permanent resident card, even if the card is expired.
If you need a social security card DHS authorization for work, there are a couple of ways to go about it depending on whether you are a permanent resident or a temporary worker.
Temporary workers must lobby the USCIS for work authorization in order to have the agency’s endorsement appear on their social security card.4 Doing so requires filling out and submitting the Application for Employment Authorization or form I 765. This form includes a section for requesting a social security card, or you can request a card through the Social Security Administration. You’ll likely need to present your EAD for the endorsement if you go through the social security office.
Permanent residents should fill out the USCIS Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, also known as form I-485.4 You can use this form to request a first social security card or a replacement. Fill out this form is also the first step for how to remove valid for work only with DHS authorization from you social security card or to otherwise change your work status.
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1. Study in the States. Obtaining a Social Security Number. https://studyinthestates.DHS.gov/students/work/obtaining-a-social-security-number#
2. Department of Homeland Security. U.S. Nonimmigrant Admission: Annual Flow Report. https://www.DHS.gov/sites/default/files/2022-07/2022_0722_plcy_nonimmigrant_fy2021.pdf
3. Stilt. GUIDE: “Valid for Work Only With DHS Authorization” Explained. https://www.stilt.com/blog/2022/02/valid-for-work-only-with-DHS-authorization-explained/
4. Social Security Administration. Apply for your Social Security Number While Applying for Your Work Permit and/or Lawful Permanent Residency. https://www.ssa.gov/ssnvisa/ebe.html