Posted by Frank Gogol in Immigrants | Updated on November 15, 2022
At a Glance: If you’re coming to the U.S. to be a permanent resident, then it’s crucial to get your SSN. As a green card holder, you’ll be awarded credits that can be exchanged for Social Security benefits.
A Green Card is a key to your American dream. But a unique Social Security Number (SSN) is equally important. It is used by almost all government agencies and important private organizations to obtain relevant information about you.
But in certain cases, you may be required to make changes to the information within your Social Security card. In this article, we’ll explain how to update your SSN after receiving your Green Card.
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Social Security Number for Green Card Holders
If you’re coming to the U.S. to be a permanent resident and hold a Green Card, then it’s crucial to get your SSN so you can receive all the benefits of being a typical American. Legally, you’re required to have it anyway. As you work in the country, you’ll be paying Social Security taxes.
As a green card holder, you’ll be awarded credits that can be exchanged for Social Security benefits. Permanent residents typically have to put in 40 quarters, or 10 years, of work since they can only earn a maximum of 4 credits each year.
Do You Need to Change Your Social Security Card After Getting a Green Card?
You do not need to change your Social Security Card (SSC) after getting the Green card until and unless you need to change the information contained in the card. If, however, your card gets stolen or you lose it, then you need to apply for a Social Security Card replacement.
Once you become a U.S. citizen, you’d be required to mandatorily make changes to your Social Security Card. Your citizenship status needs to be changed to American after you’ve obtained your Certificate of Naturalization.
How to Update Your SSN After Getting a Green Card
An SSN is like your identity, which is used as a verification tool by various organizations. But life changes and so does information. People getting married or divorced often have to change their SSC accordingly to reflect their name change, among other things.
To update your SSN after getting a Green Card, you need to visit your nearest Social Security Administration office and fill out the SS-5 form, which is the “Application for Social Security Card.” This single form contains 18 items. You need to provide supporting documents to prove your age, citizenship status, and identity.
My Social Security Online Portal
If you think going through this will be time-consuming, the good news is that the process of updating your SSN has gotten better and easier. You can use the online portal called “My Social Security” and request a replacement card as long as you’re not asking to make any changes and simply need a replacement card. You can use the same login credentials that were provided to you.
While most states offer online SSC replacement, services are not provided in states like Alabama, Connecticut, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Oklahoma, Utah, and West Virginia. Additionally, if your SSN was issued by territories like American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, then you’re not eligible for an online application and have to do it by physically visiting the office.
If You Requested an SSN When You Applied for Your Visa
You can apply for your Social Security Card even before you land in the U.S. at the time of applying for your Green Card. This is usually recommended and is the best way to get an SSN as an outsider. When you’re filling out Form DS-230, which is for the immigrant visa and alien registration, you need to agree to questions 33a and 33b.
33a confirms that you’re requesting an SSN along with your Green card. The Department of State will coordinate with the Department of Homeland Security to provide you with a unique SSN upon your arrival in the United States. 33b explicitly grants permission to both of those organizations to collect and request the relevant information. You should receive your SSN within three weeks of landing in the U.S.
If You Did Not Request an SSN When You Applied for Your Visa
If, for whatever reason, you chose not to apply for an SSN at the time of filing Form DS-230, then you can still get an SSN after coming to the United States. You’re required to an SSN office with your visa, passport, and permanent resident card. It should get processed within two weeks. If you’re planning to move to a new location, then notify the authorities accordingly.
Social Security Number FAQ
Below are some commonly asked questions about SSN’s.
Why should I apply for a Social Security Number?
An SSN enables you to enjoy social security benefits in the United States. As you work in the U.S. you’ll pay Social Security taxes and receive credit for it. After roughly 10 years of service or so, you can use it to get the benefits when you are the proper age.
Furthermore, an SSN is used as your identification. Your employer will use it to check your eligibility and some companies or organizations will ask for it for the account creation process. Legally, you’re required to be and remain registered with the U.S. government.
Do Green Card holders get Social Security Cards?
Yes, once you obtain your Green Card, the USCIS will mail you your new Social Security Card. Your SSN allows you to work in the United States, pay taxes, and conduct business with financial institutions. It is essential to have an SSN while living in the U.S.
Why is it important to keep the Social Security Number private?
The information contained within the SSC, including the SSN, is sensitive in nature. Consider it as your tracking number. The IRS uses it for processing tax returns. You’re not supposed to disclose it and are not required to carry the card everywhere either.
This number can be easily misused if fallen into the wrong hands. It can be used to access your bank accounts, credit reports, and tax information without your consent. Therefore, treat the privacy of your SSN and SSC with the utmost care and never disclose it over the phone or email unless completely sure that you’re dealing with the right people.
Are SSN and Medicare the same?
An SSN shouldn’t be confused with Medicare. Both federal services are completely different and not interrelated. An SSN provides social security benefits, while Medicare provides health insurance for those older than 65 years of age.
Why do I need to update my Social Security Card after citizenship/naturalization?
Once you become a U.S. citizen, you’re legally required to update your Social Security Card. Your citizenship status needs to be changed to American after you’ve obtained your Certificate of Naturalization.
- Can I Stay More Than 6 Months Outside the U.S. with a Green Card?
- Green Card Process Steps: EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 Visa
- How Long Does it Take for USCIS to Make a Decision After an Interview?
- Can You Be Deported if You are Married to an American Citizen?
- Which Countries Can You Visit With a Green Card?
As noted, it is important to update your SSN after getting a Green Card. Take the right steps and make the most out of the benefits that you get to enjoy with an SSN.
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Complete Form SS-5. You can download this online or get one in any SSA offices. Mail or submit your documents in person. Though updating your records in person is much faster than doing it by mail.How long does it take to update Social Security? ›
Updating your social security card is a fairly straightforward procedure, and the new card can take as few as ten days to arrive in the mail. However, you cannot apply online, so you must visit your local SSA office in person or mail in an application.Should I update SSN after green card? ›
You do not need to change your Social Security Card (SSC) after getting the Green card until and unless you need to change the information contained in the card. If, however, your card gets stolen or you lose it, then you need to apply for a Social Security Card replacement.Can I update my SSN information online? ›
You can change and update your information anytime, anywhere by logging in to or creating a free my Social Security account.Can I update my Social Security by phone? ›
If you get SSI, do not have a U.S. mailing address, or are unable to change your address online, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. or contact your local Social Security office.What happens when you update your Social Security number? ›
Fortunately, you won't have to worry about your Social Security benefits if you change your number—the Social Security Administration links your new number to your old one so your benefits get transferred to the new number.What should I update after green card? ›
- Adjustment of Status.
- Consular Processing.
- Concurrent Filing of Form I-485.
- Visa Availability & Priority Dates. Adjustment of Status Filing Charts from the Visa Bulletin.
- Travel Documents.
- Employment Authorization Document.
- Finding a Medical Doctor.
- Affidavit of Support.
You can start to work without an SSN, if you have an employment authorization document, but you must obtain the number and provide it to your employer later.How do I track my SSN after green card? ›
Another alternative is to call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 and ask for your SSN. The teleservice representative would be able to locate and provide the SSN (after verifying your identity) when the number has been issued.Do you have to pay to update your Social Security card? ›
There is no charge for a Social Security card. This service is free.
To get your immigration status or citizenship corrected, you need to show documents that prove your new status or citizenship. We can accept only certain documents as proof of citizenship for new and replacement cards. These include your U.S. passport, a Certificate of Naturalization or a Certificate of Citizenship.Do I need to update my Social Security when I become a citizen? ›
You will need to visit Social Security so they can update your Social Security record. Wait at least 10 days after your ceremony before doing so and be prepared to show them your Certificate of Naturalization or your U.S. passport.Do you need to update Social Security after marriage? ›
If you legally change your name because of marriage, divorce, court order or need to correct your name for other reasons, you must tell Social Security so you can get a replacement SSN card with your correct legal name.Do I need to change my marital status in Social Security? ›
Types of Changes to Report if You Have Applied for or Receive SSI. When you apply for or get SSI, you must tell us about certain changes. You must also tell us about changes for your spouse if you are married and living together, and parents if applying for a child.What to do after getting a Green Card? ›
You can use your Green Card to: Prove employment eligibility in the United States when completing the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Apply for a Social Security Card and a state issued driver's license.Do I need to apply for SSN after getting Green Card? ›
Upon admission to the United States based on your immigrant visa, you will be a U.S. permanent resident. Each permanent resident needs a Social Security Number (SSN).What is the next step after becoming a U.S. citizen? ›
After your naturalization ceremony, you should update your Social Security record with the Social Security Administration (SSA). You may do this by submitting Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card (PDF), by mail or in person at your local SSA office.How long does it take to update Social Security after marriage? ›
While you must provide the SSA with several documents and the completed SSA Form SS-5, the process is simple and takes only a few weeks to get a new card. Once you've changed your Social Security card to your new name, you can make changes to other documents, such as your driver's license, much more easily.How do I inform Social Security that I got married? ›
By calling our national toll-free service at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or visiting your local Social Security office.How does Social Security verify marriage? ›
You prove a ceremonial marriage by providing: A certified copy of the public record of the marriage; A certified copy of the religious record of the marriage; or. The original marriage certificate.
You must have worked and paid Social Security taxes in five of the last 10 years. If you also get a pension from a job where you didn't pay Social Security taxes (e.g., a civil service or teacher's pension), your Social Security benefit might be reduced.How do I update my social security card after getting married? ›
To change your name on your card, you must show us documents proving your legal name change and identity. You also must show us a document proving your U.S. citizenship, if it is not already in our records. You must present original documents or copies certified by the agency that issued them.What is the 10 year marriage rule for Social Security? ›
To be eligible, you must have been married to your ex-spouse for 10 years or more. If you have since remarried, you can't collect benefits on your former spouse's record unless your later marriage ended by annulment, divorce, or death.