On Oct. 2, the U.S. Citizenship and ImmigrationServices (USCIS) announcedplans to streamline the process for employment authorization document (EAD)applicants who also require the issuance of a Social Security number. Specifically, the newly updated version of Form I-765 will contain several additional questions similar to those that havelong been a feature of the DS-260 form submitted by immigrant visa applicants withthe U.S. Department of State.
For applicants to request a Social Securitycard, the updated form simply requires that they check a box granting permission toshare their information with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and providethe name of each parent. The applicant’s information will be automaticallytransmitted to the SSA for processing, and a card will be issued within twoweeks of the EAD’s approval, without the need to apply in person at a SocialSecurity office.
A Faster Way to Obtain Your SSN
At first glance, this announcement is one thatshould be warmly welcomed as a long-overdue example of cooperation amongfederal agencies to cut through red-tape. It promises to save many foreign nationalsfrom the often-intimidating process of locating a Social Security office andencountering the less-than-friendly reception experienced in a governmentwaiting room.
The announcement also proposes to cut down thelong wait times (often up to month) that EAD recipients have long beensubjected to, due to the lengthy and duplication verification processpreviously in place.
What is less clear, however, is what type ofimpact – if any – this new policy will have within the worldof employment-based immigration.
Beneficiaries undergoing an Adjustment ofStatus based on a pending or approved I-140 petition will usually already havea Social Security number based on their existing nonimmigrant status as astudent or temporary worker.
On the other hand, those applying for an EAD asthe recently arrived spouse of an H, L, or O visa holder stand to benefit fromthis new policy. For such individuals,the process of settling in to their new environment is often frustrated by thedelay in obtaining a Social Security number.
Although the EAD itself is sufficient to complete an I-9form and verify employment eligibility, the failure to immediately providea Social Security number can be a headache for payroll administrators eager toensure swift IRS reporting compliance. Furthermore, the ability to provide a Social Security number is often aprerequisite for opening bank accounts or enrolling in a health insuranceplan.
What the Future Holds
If it proves to be successful, there aregrounds for optimism that similar methods could be put into place for otherapplicants, such as I-129 beneficiaries. At present, the DS-160 form fails to offer an option for requesting aSocial Security number, even for those seeking an employment-based visaclassification.
It remains to be seen whether the increasedlevels of efficiency that this announcement promises will bear out in itspractical application. It is, however,an encouraging step that recognizes thebureaucratic hurdles that are faced by foreign nationals and theiremployers when seeking a smooth transition into a new workplace.
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