A US Social Security number (SSN) is not required to start working in the United States on your TN Visa—but you might need one, or you might still want to get one.
Who can get an SSN?
Anyone that has been legally authorized to work in the United States on a valid work visa is able to obtain an SSN, including Canadian and Mexican citizens that have approved TN Visas. Employers are required to complete Form I-9 to document verification of the identity and employment authorization of each new employee (both citizen and noncitizen) hired to work in the United States.
When do I need to get an SSN for a TN Visa?
You need to get an SSN on a TN Visa if you are going to be put on payroll as a W-2 employee.
If I don’t need an SSN, why would I want to get one?
Generally, only noncitizens authorized to work in the United States by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can get a Social Security number, which are used to report a person’s wages to the government and to determine a person’s eligibility for Social Security benefits. So unless you are a noncitizen who wants to work in the United States, you probably don’t need one. As a TN Visa holder, though, you can get one, and most likely should.
While you need a Social Security number to work, collect Social Security benefits, and receive other government services, lawfully admitted noncitizens can get many benefits and services without a Social Security number. You don’t need a number to get a driver’s license, register for school, get private health insurance, or apply for school lunch programs or subsidized housing. (SSA can’t assign a Social Security number solely for you to get a driver’s license or a service that requires a credit check.) Some organizations use Social Security numbers to identify you in their records. Most, however, will identify you by some other means if you request it. Although many companies, such as banks and credit companies, may ask for your Social Security number, you generally aren’t required to provide one if you don’t have one.
Additional Outside Resources
- SSA: Social Security Numbers and Immigrant Visas
- SSA: Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card
- USCIS: I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification
We Can Help!
Don’t know where to start? We have more than 20 years of experience helping Canadian citizens obtain TN Visas. If you have questions about your particular situation, contact Richards and Jurusik for a free assessment of your TN Visa matters.