How can a K1 Visa Holder get a US Social Security Card?

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A Fiance Visa holder may apply for a US Social Security Card after (1) entering the United States on a K-1 Fiance Visa and (2) marrying the Petitioning US Citizen.

Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes a K-1 I-94 as a valid lawful entry record that permits employment. However, specifically for K-1s, the best time to apply is about 2 weeks after entry into the US as this would allow the government “SAVE” system to be up-to-date at your SSA Visit. Moreover, specifically for K-1s, the I-94 expires after 90 days of entry and SSA will refuse to accept the I-94 if it expires within 14 days.

So, there is a 60-day period out of the 90-day fiance visa period that is the time to file for a Social Security Card as a K-1 Visa Holder:

  • After 14 days of entry, which would give plenty of time to get married
  • Within 75 days of entry
  • Reminder, the last 14 days or any day after day 76 in the United States would mean SSA would NOT provide a Social Security Card

What should you bring?

  1. The SS-5 form you downloaded and filled out (they have some at the SSA office if you forget) (Link found here).
  2. your Passport (with the K-1 Visa in it)
  3. your valid I-94: Electronic I-94 Copy; or an original of a valid paper I-94 received commonly at border checkpoints
  4. another form of valid ID (as defined in the SS-5 instructions)
  5. You should also bring the document RM 10211.530 that you printed out (Link found here)

Can I work after I get my Social Security Card?

The answer to this common question can be a little complicated.

In short, No, a social security card does NOT in of itself allow employment.

A K-1 Visa Holder is able to work after USCIS issues an Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card). The Social Security Card issued on a K1 Visa (and an accompanying marriage certificate) will state that DHS Authorization is required. DHS authorizes employment in the I-765 Employment Authorization Application.

Although a K1 can apply for Employment Authorization prior to Adjustment of Status, an Employment Authorization Document under the K1 Visa or A6 Category would be valid for a few weeks and would expire on the 90th day of the K1 Validity Period. This A6 filing would cost a few hundred dollars and generally is never pursued.

Frequently, a K1 would apply for Employment Authorization under adjustment of Status or C9 Category. This application is a little slow to process, but is free with an I-485 Green Card Application and is valid for 2 years once approved.

Am I able to get a Social Security Card prior to marriage after entering on the K-1 Visa?

Yes, the marriage certificate is not in the above list of required documents. However, if you wish to change your name to the married name, a marriage would be required. It is common to change your last name after marriage in the United States.

More information on changing your name to the Married Name:

Name Change and the Green Card: Things to Know

More information on how to apply is found below:

How to apply for a Social Security card at the local SSA office and what documents are needed for immigrants?


Related Blog Posts:

How to apply for a marriage license as an immigrant in North Carolina?

When Do I Receive The Employment Authorization Card through the Pending I-485 Green Card Application?



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