Based on a new information-sharing partnership between U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA), effective immediately, foreign nationals in certain categories or classifications can now apply for work authorization and a social security number using a single form which is the updated Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
In order to work lawfully in the U.S., foreign workers in some categories and classifications need both an employment authorization document (EAD) from USCIS, and a Social Security number (SSN) from the SSA. Previously, applicants needed to submit a Form I-765 to USCIS for an EAD, and then submit additional paperwork in-person at their local Social Security office to obtain an SSN.
The revised USCIS form includes additional questions that allow applicants to apply for an SSN or replacement card without visiting a Social Security office. Please see items #10 and #11 on the revised Form I-765. Starting October 3, 2017, the USCIS will transmit the additional data collected on Form I-765 to the SSA for processing. Moving forward, applicants who receive their approved EADs from USCIS should receive their Social Security card from SSA within the following two weeks. It is not clear from the announcement which foreign workers in which categories or classifications may take advantage of the new provision, but presumably, it will be spouses of L and E visa holders and spouses and children of principal aliens if the principal alien and the spouses and children are applicants for Adjustment of Status.
According to the USCIS, EADs serve as documentation to show employers that an individual is authorized to work in the U.S. for a specific time period. SSNs are used to report wages to the government, and to determine an individual’s eligibility for certain benefits.