Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Jul 11, 2013

Employee SSN not essential at the time of hire


Q: Can we hire an individual who says he has applied for, but not yet received, a Social Security number?

A: Yes, if he can provide adequate documentation of his identity and work authorization for the Form I-9 at the time of hire. When a foreign worker applies for a Social Security number (SSN), the Social Security Administration (SSA) has to verify the person’s work authorization with the Department of Homeland Security. The delay caused by this process means that some individuals who are authorized to work won’t have their SSN issued just yet. Under current employment laws, you can still hire the individual as long as he can provide adequate documentation for the Form I-9. In Section one of the Form I-9, where the employee is supposed to enter his SSN, have him write “applied for” and then view his documentation—either one document from List A, or one from List B and one from List C. And remember that a receipt for the SSN application is not a sufficient List C document. For more information, see our Legal Guide, “Form I-9: Basic Obligations of Employment Eligibility Verification” (2813) or contact Vigilant to learn more about ongoing flat fee employer advice.

One final note: If you use E-Verify, you probably know that you can’t set up an online “case” for your new hire without a SSN, and you’re supposed to do so within three days of hire. For I-9 compliance, the USCIS provides special instructions for how to handle this on pages 13-14 of the E-Verify User Manual for Employers. The manual explains: “If a newly hired employee has applied for but has not yet received his or her Social Security number (i.e., if he or she is a newly arrived immigrant), make a note on the employee’s Form I-9 and set it aside. The employee should be allowed to continue to work. You must create a case in E-Verify using the employee’s Social Security number as soon as the Social Security number is available. If the case was not created by the third day after the employee started work for pay, you must indicate the reason for this delay in E-Verify. You may choose a reason from the drop-down list or state a specific reason in the field provided.”

This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.