BASIC (08-09)

RM 10205.035 Proper Applicant is a Parent with Custody of a Child under Age 18

A natural, adoptive, or step-parent with custody of a child under age 18 is a proper applicant if there is no legal guardian. If the number holder (NH) is age 18 or older, the applicant must establish that the NH is unable to file an application on his or her own behalf. If a parent files on behalf of a child age 18 or over or a child not in his or her custody, refer to RM 10205.055 — Proper Applicant is an Individual Who can Establish Relationship and Responsibility.

In addition to documents required for the person to whom the SSN is issued, i.e., evidence of age, identity, and U.S. citizenship or current lawful alien status (or, if not authorized to work in the U.S., evidence of a current valid nonwork need) appropriate to the type of SSN card requested, you must also obtain the following evidence from the proper applicant.

A. Proof of identity of the applicant

We must see proof of identity for the person filing the application.

B. Evidence of relationship

Once a Numident record is established, you may use the information shown on the Numident to verify a parent’s relationship for future SSN applications. If the application is for an original SSN, or if Numident data does not match information shown on the application for an SSN card, the applicant must provide the following evidence:

U.S.-born natural child

For a child born in the U.S., the child's birth certificate establishes the relationship for a natural parent.

U.S.-born adopted child

For a child adopted in the U.S., the child’s birth certificate establishes the relationship for an adoptive parent. When no birth certificate showing parent’s names is available, the adoption decree establishes relationship.

Stepchild of applicant

To establish a step-parent relationship, obtain evidence of:

  • The stepchild’s relationship to his or her natural parent, and

  • The marriage of the natural parent to the applicant.

Foreign-born natural child

A foreign birth certificate establishes relationship for a natural parent of a foreign-born child.

When the applicant does not have the child’s birth certificate to submit, use the following to support an allegation of a parent/child relationship indicated on the Applicant Information screen during an in-person interview or in block 17 on Form SS-5:

  • visas issued by the Department of State (DOS) at about the same time,

  • admission to the U.S. at the same time and place, or

  • passports showing the same family name.

The mother’s name or father’s name shown on the application or given in the interview must correspond to the applicant relationship allegation. If there is a serious question regarding parental status, and no such documentation is available, document the applicant as a Relative with Custody, RM 10205.045.


The following are examples of combinations of documents that, along with an allegation of parent relationship on the application, establish the parent/child relationship for a foreign-born child:

  • DOS issued an L-1 visa for the intra-company transferee and issued L-2 visas for the spouse and children;

  • DOS issued the family members immigrant visas and they all arrive in the U.S. at the same time;

  • The foreign passports show the same family name for both parent and child; or

  • The child does not have his or her own passport, but is included on the mother’s passport.

Foreign-born adopted child

Foreign-born non-citizen children brought into the United States for adoption or adopted overseas, have an immigrant visa showing the “IV category” as either IR-3 (child adopted abroad) or IR-4 (child coming to U.S. for adoption). DHS admits the child as an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

Evidence of a foreign adoption (when the visa code is IR-3) or foreign custody papers (when the visa code is IR-4) establish the applicant’s relationship to the child (e.g., adoptive parent, prospective adoptive parent with legal custody, or U.S. based adoption agency with legal custody).

C. Evidence of custody/responsibility

Custody and responsibility can be assumed if the proper applicant is the natural or adoptive parent (for final adoptions) of a child under age 18; unless there is evidence to show the parent does not have custody.

Field Offices (FOs) should be alert to situations that indicate that a parent may not have custody of the