In general, only non-citizens who have permission to work from the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) can apply for a Social Security number. Once a Canadian professional has obtained an approval on an application for TN status, he or she may file for a Social Security number.
The Social Security Agency (“SSA”) recommends that TN workers and other non-immigrant workers should wait at least ten (10) days after obtaining work authorization before applying for a social security number. For TN workers, this would be from the date of the issuance of the I-94 (border applications) or the date on the approval notice of Form I-797 (filing I-129 petition through VSC). This allows adequate time to pass for the TN worker’s status to be added to database systems.
How to Apply for Social Security Number:
To apply for a Social Security number, a TN worker generally should bring the following materials to a local Social Security office:
A completed Application For a Social Security Card (Form SS-5);
The original I-94, Arrival/Departure Record.
An original birth certificate. If an original birth certificate is unavailable, a passport may be presented to prove age.
Starting TN Assignment despite Lack of Social Security number.
When non-immigrant workers, including TN professionals, apply for Social Security numbers, SSA must verify the documents submitted in support of the Social Security number application directly with DHS. Most applications are verified immediately, but there can be delays.
Nevertheless, a TN worker may start work in the U.S. while the Social Security number application is being processed. In this situation, the TN employer should obtain from the TN worker the following information as complete as possible: The worker’s full name, address, date of birth, place of birth, father’s full name, mother’s full maiden name, gender and the date he or she applied for a Social Security number. The TN worker may also obtain a letter from SSA evidencing that he or she has filed for a Social Security number.
Employers Filing W-2s with the Social Security Agency for Workers without Social Security numbers.
Employers Filing by Paper: If the TN worker applied for a card but has not yet received the number in time for filing, the employer should enter “Applied For” in Box d of Form W-2.
Employers Filing Electronically: If the TN worker has applied for a card but has not yet received the number in time for filing, the employer should enter all zeros (000-00-0000) in the field for the Social Security number.
When the employer receives the TN worker’s Social Security number, the employer must file Form W-2c (Corrected Wage and Tax Statement), to reflect the TN worker’s proper Social Security number.
Social Security Numbers For Noncitizens, (SSA Publication No. 05-10096).
Foreign Workers and Social Security Numbers (SSA Publication No. 05-10107).
Employer W-2 Reporting Instructions & Information, Social Security Online (last visited Jan. 15, 2007).
Instructions for Forms W-2 and W-3 (2006), Internal Revenue Service (last visited Jan. 15, 2007).