SSN on a visa

Certain foreign nationals inside the United States on non-immigrant visas are authorized to work because of their status, while others are only authorized to work for an identified employer. We discuss how to obtain a social security number (SSN) if you have valid work authorization either through employment or because of your status.

How do I prove my employment authorization?

The following is a list of documents accepted by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as proof of non-immigrant employment authorization:

  • CBP Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record – Your admission stamp is on either your I-94 admission record or in your unexpired passport that shows a class of admission (COA) that has employment authorization attached. If you extended your status while remaining inside the United States you will need your USICS I-797 Approval notice with your new I-94 cards attached. No additional documents are required to prove employment authorization. 

Electronic Form I94

Physical I94 Card

  • I-797 Approval NoticeEmployment Authorization Document (EAD), Form I-766 – An Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card) provides authorization to work.

EAD Card copy

What classes of admission have employment authorization attached?

The following is a list of non-immigrants that are authorized to work according to their class of admission (COA):

Class of Admission


  • A-1

Ambassador, public minister, career diplomat, or consular officer (principal).

  • A-2

Other foreign government officials or employees (principals).

  • A-3

Attendant, servant, or personal employee of principal A-1, or A-2 (principal).

  • CW1

Transitional worker (principal).

  • E-1

Treaty trader (principal).

  • E-1, E1S

Spouse of principal E-1 or E1S.

  • E-2

Treaty investor (principal)

  • E-2, E2S

Spouse of principal E-2 or E2S.

  • E2C

Long-term business investor or foreign investor (principal).

  • E-3

Certain specialty occupation professionals from Australia.

  • E-3, E3S

Spouse of certain specialty occupation professionals from Australia

  • E-3R

Returning E-3 principal alien.

  • F-1

Academic student for on-campus employment and DSO-authorized curricular practical training.

  • F-3

Canadian or Mexican national academic student who commutes to school in the U.S. DSO-authorized for DSO-authorized curricular practical training.

  • G-1

Resident representative of a recognized foreign member government to an international organization (principal).

  • G-2

Other temporary representatives of recognized foreign member governments to an international organization (principal).

  • G-3

Representative of unrecognized or nonmember foreign government to an international organization (principal).

  • G-4

Representative of international organization (officer or employee) (principal).

  • G-5

Attendant, servant, or personal employee of principal G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4.

  • H-1B

Worker in a specialty occupation.

  • H-1B1

Temporary worker in a specialty occupation.

  • H-2A

Agricultural worker.

  • H-2B

Non-agrarian seasonal worker.

  • H-3


  • I

Foreign information media representative (principal).

  • J-1

Exchange visitor (pursuant to an approved program).

  • K-1

Fiancé(e) of U.S. citizen.

  • L-1

Intra-company transferee.

  • L1S

Spouse of Intra-company transferee

  • L-1A

Intra-company Transferee Managers and Executives.

  • L-1B

Intra-company Transferee Specialized Knowledge.

  • L-2, L2S

Spouse of an intra-company transferee.

  • NATO-1 through 6

NATO officer, representative, or personnel (principal).

  • NATO-7

Attendant, servant, or personal employee of principal NATO-1 through 6 (principal).

  • O-1

Alien with extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.

  • O-2

Alien accompanying O-1.

  • P-1

Internationally recognized athlete or entertainer in an internationally recognized group.

  • P1S

Internationally recognized athlete or entertainer support personnel

  • P-2

Artist or entertainer in an exchange program.

  • P2S

Artist or entertainer support personnel

  • P-3

Artist or entertainer in a culturally unique program.

  • Q-1

Cultural exchange visitor.

  • Q-2

Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Visitor.

  • R-1

Religious worker with a nonprofit religious organization.

  • TC

Professional business person, United States-Canada Free Trade Act (FTA).

  • TN

A professional business person from Canada or Mexico, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

  • TN-1

A professional business person from Canada, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

  • TN-2

A professional business person from Mexico, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

  • Refugee

Alien admitted pursuant to section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

  • Asylee

Asylee under 208 of the INA.

How and where do I get my Social Security card?

After you receive your valid I-94, EAD card, or I-797 Approval Notice extending/changing your status,  you are able to go to any SSA Office to apply for your social security number (SSN). You will need proof of your identity and legal authorization to work in the United States in order to obtain an SSN on a TN Visa, which generally means you will need to present the following documents:

  • A completed Form SS-5
  • A valid unexpired passport
  • A TN Visa admission stamp in your passport showing the valid dates of your TN Visa
  • A copy of your Form I-94 record of admission showing your valid TN Visa

Upon presentation of the proper supporting documents, your Social Security card will be mailed directly to the address you provide.

When should I apply for an SSN?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recommends waiting at least 10 days after admission in a valid COA before applying for an SSN. While you wait for your SSN to arrive, your employer can use the letter from the SSA showing that you have applied for an SSN, and your valid immigration documents to prove that you have received legal authorization to work in the United States. In many cases, an SSN is issued along with an EAD card. In cases where you were not issued an SSN along with your EAD card, you can immediately apply for an SSN when the EAD arrives.

How do I get a Social Security number (SSN) on a TN Visa? Can I work on an old or restricted Social Security number (SSN)?

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