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SOCIAL SECURITY CARD AND DRIVER'S LICENSE


Upon arriving to the United States one of the first government documents you should apply for is the Soical Security card. If you are eligible for the card the US government will issue it to you for free. The primary reason to obtain a social security card is because employers will ask you for it when you start your job. The social security number is used to record your earnings. In addition, in California you need to have a social security number to be issued a driver's license.

If you need a social security card or want to replace a lost or stolen card, or get a card showing a new name, you should visit your nearest Social Security Administration office (SSA). To find the nearest Social Administration office based on your US postal zip code click here.

Prior to visiting the SSA in person you can download the application form (SS-5) here.

If you will be applying for an original card (you have never been assigned a Social Security number before), you must submit evidence at the SSA office of the following: (1) your age (birth certificate), (2) your identity (passport), and (3) U.S. citizenship (naturlization certificate or US passport) or lawful alien status (current document issued to you by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), such as your green card or Form I-94 which indicates your current nonimmigrant status).

Aliens that are in the United States in a status that allows them to work can obtain a social security card by presenting evidence of that INS employment status. Such evidence includes a green card, I-94 card which indicates employment status (examples include L-1A, H-1B, F-1 with practical training card), or an INS employment authorization document (often received by applicants who are applying for green card interviews in the United States through a process called adjustment of status).

If your current nonimmigrant status does not authroize you to work in the United States the SSA can only issue you a Social Security card if you submit a document from a Federal, State or local agency explaining why you need a Social Security number and that you meet all the requirements for the benefit or service except for a social security number. For example, applicants for a California driver's license must provide the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with a social security number before they are issued a driver's license. Therefore applicants for a California driver's license should first go to the DMV and take the written driving test. After that the applicant will get a receipt from the DMV which needs to be taken to the SSA. SSA will issue you a social security card not valid for employment if you will remain in legal status in the US for at least another 60 days. Then you will need to return to the DMV with your social security card.

For further information about obtaining a California driver's license click here.

For information about the Birth Verification/Legal Presence requirement in California click here.

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