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Just got my Green Card but can I work before I have my social security number?

Just got my Green Card but can I work before I have my social security number?

Old Jan 7th 2015, 1:06 am
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Default Just got my Green Card but can I work before I have my social security number?

Hello

After four and a half years of being a co-dependant on a H4 visa I finally got my green card in the mail. I'm going to apply for my Social Security number and card tomorrow but I've been told it can take up to 6 weeks to be generated. Am I legally allowed to work in the meantime and is it likely that companies (bars, cafes, shops, etc) will employ me with just my green card and no Social Security number?

Alternatively, if I do self employed contracts for clients in the meantime and everything goes through the books will these be legal being as i won't have a social security number for a few weeks?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Tim
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Old Jan 7th 2015, 1:26 am
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Default Re: Just got my Green Card but can I work before I have my social security number?

Originally Posted by Timothytoad View Post
Hello

After four and a half years of being a co-dependant on a H4 visa I finally got my green card in the mail. I'm going to apply for my Social Security number and card tomorrow but I've been told it can take up to 6 weeks to be generated. Am I legally allowed to work in the meantime
Yes, in that a green card on its own is sufficient to meet I-9 document requirements. Employment Eligibility Verification | USCIS

However,

and is it likely that companies (bars, cafes, shops, etc) will employ me with just my green card and no Social Security number?
If the employer participates in E-Verify then as far as I know you do need to have a Social Security Number.


Alternatively, if I do self employed contracts for clients in the meantime and everything goes through the books will these be legal being as i won't have a social security number for a few weeks?
Yes. Your clients might expect you to provide a W-9, however, which in turn normally requires your Social Security Number (unless, possibly, you have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or work through a corporation/LLC with its own Employer Identification Number).

Did you not consider applying for an Employment Authorization Document when you applied for your green card?

Last edited by JAJ; Jan 7th 2015 at 1:28 am.
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Old Jan 7th 2015, 6:11 am
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Default Re: Just got my Green Card but can I work before I have my social security number?

Thanks JAJ

I was given a temporary work permit while the final stages of the green card were going though but believe it or not it got lost in the mail and we were told that it would take longer to apply for a replacement than it would to wait for our green cards.

I do have a tax ID number so hopefully that will suffice until my SS card is processed. After 4.5 years of not being allowed to work here this is just a small bump in the road. Thanks for the info, it's very helpful.

Tim
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Old Jan 7th 2015, 12:12 pm
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Default Re: Just got my Green Card but can I work before I have my social security number?

You are legally allowed to work but, as others have said, need the SSN for tax purposes. A good eployer will know this and you can work with the understanding that you will provide your SSN when it arrives. The employer may well withhold tax at the highest rate in the meantime and you would most likely have to wait until you file your next return (by April 15th 2016) to get it refunded. The rate would obviously adjust when you provide the SSN.

I would suggest that this is the best way to go rather than using a TIN, which can get complicated come tax time.
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Old Jan 7th 2015, 2:02 pm
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Default Re: Just got my Green Card but can I work before I have my social security number?

You can work, the employer will withhold the maximum taxes/rate though until you give them your SSN when you get it.

The rate will be adjusted afterwards and as mentioned above, you either claim it back the next tax time, or you adjust your withholdings to lower your tax rate and hope you get it right and that it equalises through the year. It's probably a better option to just claim it back though.
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Old Jan 7th 2015, 9:35 pm
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Default Re: Just got my Green Card but can I work before I have my social security number?

Thanks everyone. That's very helpful. Now I just need to find a job!
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Old Jan 8th 2015, 4:46 pm
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Default Re: Just got my Green Card but can I work before I have my social security number?

What do you hope to do?

I'm always interested in career matters.

You have a Linkedin profile?

You've checked indeed.com?
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Old Jan 8th 2015, 9:44 pm
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Default Re: Just got my Green Card but can I work before I have my social security number?

Well I've been honing my skills as a photographer over the past 4 1/2 years while I've been a co-dependent. Typically though, this work is mainly freelance so I'll be looking to find an agent as soon as one will have me. I'm a little bit worried about what other work will be available so that I can eat in the meantime. Bar and waiting work is hard to get in Los Angeles because the tips make those positions quite coveted. I'm also looking for photography assisting work as well commissions of my own. I've steered clear of LinkedIn since being on a very restrictive visa in the States because I've not not been allowed to work here but you've just reminded me that now is a good time to start up a profile. Thanks.
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