The process for applying for and obtaining Social Security cards, or, more importantly, the Social Security numbers which are listed on those cards, is currently linked to the immigration process itself. This means that an individual who is applying to be an immigrant to America may be able to submit for a Social Security card at the same time. The purpose of this linkage of the applications is to eliminate the need for those hoping to obtain Social Security cards to effectively submit an additional application separately from the immigration application, as the same information can be used for both applications.
On the immigrant visa application, the would-be immigrant must request a Social Security Card, and must also be over 18 years or older in age when he or she arrives in the United States, and must be considered a “lawfully admitted permanent resident.” Refugees to the United States cannot submit for Social Security cards while in their country of origin.
In order to apply for a Social Security card during the immigration process, an individual must answer “yes” on questions 43a. and 43b. of Form DS-230. These questions are, respectively, “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,” and “Consent to Disclosure: I authorize disclosure from this form to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the Social Security Administration (SSA), such other US 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.”
This is the only step of the process that an immigrant who fills out Form DS-230 need undertake, as the other steps of the process are all undertaken by different government administrations, as the information is sent to the proper authorities. Assuming that the application is accepted, the information is passed to the Social Security Administration, which then issues the applicant a Social Security card which should be received by the immigrant within 3 weeks of admittance to the United States of America.
If Social Security cards are not received within that time, even though they were applied for in the above method, then the individuals in question should go to the nearest Social Security office or Card Center in order to obtain new Social Security cards. They will be required to bring proof of identity, age, and employment authorization. The nearest such offices can be found through government websites
For immigrants who do not undertake this type of application for Social Security cards, an application labeled form SS-5 must be filled out and taken to the local Social Security office, along with the necessary documents, including proof of immigration status, work eligibility, age, and identity. More information on these documents and how to ensure that the necessary information is provided, in addition to information on Social Security in general, can be found at various government websites.