TN 54 (02-24)

RM 10211.001 Who Must Submit Evidence of Lawful Alien Status for an SSN Card

A. Policy

1. Original SSN card

If the applicant is not a U.S. citizen or they allege a foreign place of birth they must submit the following for an original SSN card:

  • Evidence of lawful alien status

  • DHS work authorization.

    NOTE: An IDN of “H” on the Numident is not acceptable evidence of lawful alien status for a new SSN.

    EXCEPTION: We can assign an SSN to an alien not lawfully present in the U.S. if they have established entitlement for Title II benefits, Title XVI (SSI), Payments, AFDC, Medicaid or Food Stamps (see RM 10211.500).

    In addition, certain aliens may be lawfully present in the U.S. without DHS documents (see RM 10211.075).

2. Replacement SSN card

All applicants for a replacement SSN card who allege a foreign place of birth or who are not U.S. citizens must submit evidence of lawful alien status or DHS work authorization.

B. Glossary

1. Alien

An alien is an individual who is not a citizen or a national of the U.S.

2. Alien (foreign-born)

An alien (foreign-born) is an individual born outside the 50 States, District of Columbia, American Samoa, Swain's Island, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

3. Alien (U.S.-born)

An alien (U.S.-born) is an individual born in the U.S. (to a foreign diplomatic officer parent) who as a matter of international law is not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. This occurs when the individual was born to a foreign diplomatic officer (ambassador, minister, charge' affair, counselor, secretary or attaché of an embassy, legation or European Economic Community delegation) parent.

4. Admission stamp

Upon admission, DHS stamps the alien’s passport, MRIV or I-94. This admission stamp shows:


  • Information about the DHS, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) field office having jurisdiction over the port of entry;

  • Information about the alien's port of entry and date of admission; and

  • A four-digit stamp identification number.

The alien's class of admission and the validity date (i.e., the date admitted until) are endorsed in ink by the admitting inspector.

5. Alien classification

The alien classification is determined by the code on the alien's evidence of nonimmigrant status (e.g. I-94) or I-551 that identifies the terms and conditions of the alien's admission to the U.S.

6. Asylee

An Asylee is an alien already in the U.S. or at a port of entry who is granted asylum in the U.S. Asylum may be granted to people who:

  • Are unable or unwilling to return to their countries of nationality.

  • Seek the protection of their countries of nationality.

  • Are persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution.

7. Classification

See alien classification.

8. Compact of free association non-immigrant

A Compact of Free Association non-immigrant is an individual who is residing in the U.S. under the provisions of the Compact of Free Association Act of 1985. Under this Act, citizens of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau may enter, reside and work in the U.S. without restriction.

9. Conditional entrant

A conditional entrant is an alien admitted as a refugee under section 203(a)(7) of the INA prior to September 30, 1980.

10. Conditional resident alien

A conditional resident alien is an alien granted a 2-year period of permanent resident status based on (1) a “qualifying” marriage to a U.S. citizen or national, a permanent resident or (2) qualifying as an alien entrepreneur. A conditional resident alien has the same DHS documents as an LAPR except that the I-551 expires after 2 years. For enumeration purposes conditional resident aliens are treated as aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

11. Cuban-Haitian entrant

Cuban-Haitian entrant status was afforded to: (a) Cubans who entered the U.S. illegally between April 21, 1980 and October 10, 1980 and (b) Haitians who entered the U.S. illegally before January 1, 1981.

12. Documented alien

A documented alien is an alien in the U.S. who possesses valid DHS documents.

In addition, certain aliens may be lawfully present in the U.S. without having DHS documents. For additional information, see RM 10211.075.

13. Employment authorization document (EAD)

An employment authorization document (EAD) is a laminated card issued by DHS to certain non-immigrants as evidence of authorization to work in the U.S. This card replaces the “employment authorization” annotation DHS previously placed on other documents (see RM 10211.025 and RM 10211.420). The current EAD is the I-766. Form I-766 is valid for a specific period of time and the bearer is subject to any terms and conditions noted on the card.

14. Eligible immigrant

An ‘Eligible Immigrant’ is an alien who is the spouse or unmarried child of a documented alien who obtained lawful permanent residence (LPR) status through the 1986 amnesty program. An eligible immigrant qualifies to apply for benefits under the Family Unity Program as established by the Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMAC 90). The Family Unity Program provides a temporary stay of deportation and work authorization for eligible immigrants who entered the U.S. on or before May 5, 1988 and have been residing here continuously. Eligible individuals can apply for and receive voluntary departure status in renewable, two-year increments.

15. Green card

The “Green Card” as it is commonly referred, is the United States Permanent Resident Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-551, I-151, AR-3 or AR-3a). It is granted by USCIS to a permanent resident alien to show proof they have been granted authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. Though the current version of the card is not green, the heading ‘United States Permanent Resident Card’ is embedded in a green banner and some features of the new I-551 shift in color from green to gold (see GN 00303.440B.1. valid samples in the ACM).

16. Illegal alien (undocumented alien)

An illegal alien (undocumented alien) is a foreign national who entered the U.S. without inspection or with fraudulent documentation or who, after entering legally as a non-immigrant, violated status and remained in the U.S. without authorization.

17. Immigrant

An immigrant is an alien who has been lawfully afforded the privilege of residing permanently in the U.S.

18. Immigrant visa

An immigrant visa is a document on security paper, issued by a U.S. consul abroad, which permits a foreign national to apply to DHS for admission into the U.S. as a permanent resident.

19. Immigration status

Immigration status is the legal status conferred on an alien by immigration laws.

20. INA

INA is the Immigration and Nationality Act which was reorganized by the McCarran-Walter bill in 1952. It is the basic body of immigration law.

21. DHS

DHS is the acronym for Department of Homeland Security

22. IRCA

IRCA is the acronym for Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. IRCA is public law (P.L. 99-603) that amended and repealed certain sections of the INA. IRCA allows DHS to process certain illegal aliens differently. Under IRCA the following aliens could apply for lawful temporary resident status:

  • Certain aliens who entered the U.S. illegally before January 1, 1982 and who remained in the U.S. since that date, and who applied for lawful alien status by May 4, 1988; and

  • Certain special agricultural workers (SAWs) who worked illegally in the U.S. in qualifying periods of time who applied by November 30, 1988.

Also under IRCA, an alien who has resided in the U.S. for a period of 18 months after being granted lawful temporary resident status may apply for permanent resident status during the 12 month period beginning the day after the required 18 months temporary resident status has been completed. If approved, the alien's status is adjusted to permanent resident as of the date on the application fee receipt issued by DHS.

Public Law 100-204, the Department of State Authorization Bill, provided that nationals of Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Poland, and Uganda could apply for lawful temporary resident status under IRCA if:

  • They resided in the U.S. continuously since prior to July 21, 1984; and

  • They applied for such status between March 21, 1988 and December 22, 1989.

The legalization program ended on September 30, 1991. Most legalization applications had been processed and qualified aliens issued Form I-688 (obsolete Temporary Resident Card). For a period of time, DHS continued issuing I-688A to class members of two ongoing lawsuits.

See Also:

RM 10210.815, for more information about the I-688A.

23. LAPR

LAPR is the acronym for Lawfully Admitted for Permanent Residence. It is a lawful immigrant who is residing permanently in the U.S. with the authorization of DHS.

24. Lawfully admitted but not for permanent residence

An alien lawfully admitted but not for permanent residence is one who is lawfully admitted to the U.S. but who is not LAPR (see RM 10211.075 and RM 10211.135).

25. Legalization

Legalization was a program whereby an illegal alien who applied for lawful alien status received amnesty and adjusted their immigration status to that of a temporary resident. IRCA stipulated that the alien had to establish entry prior to January 1, 1982, and reside continuously in the U.S. since that time. The legalization program ended September 30, 1991.

26. LTR

LTR stands for Lawful Temporary Resident. It refers to an alien who has lawful temporary resident status for 1 year under section 201 of IRCA. This is an individual whose application for legalization has been approved.

27. Mica

The Mica is a combination U.S. Border Crossing Identification Card and Visa issued by the Department of State through consulates in Mexico. (“Mica” means “card.”) The card looks like a visa but the holder can use it to travel in the U.S. for up to 72 hours within 25 miles of the U.S. - Mexico border without obtaining DHS documentation. The Mica is used in lieu of the I-586, Non-resident Alien Border Crossing Card.

28. Nationality

Nationality refers to the state or country to which a person owes allegiance. The country of birth does not necessarily correspond to the nationality.

29. Naturalization

Naturalization is the conferring of nationality of a state or country upon a person who was born under the allegiance of another nation.

30. Non-immigrant

A non-immigrant is an alien temporarily in the U.S. for a specific purpose. This group includes foreign government officials, visitors and students.

31. Non-immigrant visa

A non-immigrant visa is a stamp placed in a foreign national's passport which permits that individual to apply to DHS for temporary admission into the U.S.

32. Parolee

A parolee is an alien, who appears to be inadmissible to the inspecting DHS officer, but is allowed to enter the U.S. under emergency conditions or when the alien's entry is determined to be in the public interest. Although parolees are required to leave when the conditions supporting their parole cease to exist, they may sometimes adjust their immigration status to Asylee.

33. Passport

A passport is any travel document issued by a competent authority showing the bearer's origin, identity, and nationality, if any, which is valid for the entry of the bearer into a foreign country.

34. Permanent resident alien


35. Prucol

PRUCOL stands for permanently residing in the U.S. under color of law. PRUCOL is not an alien status. It is a term used to define the eligibility of certain aliens for certain Federal benefits (i.e., SSI, AFDC, Medicaid, unemployment insurance). It includes any alien who is residing in the U.S. with the knowledge and permission of DHS and whose departure from the U.S. DHS does not contemplate enforcing.

36. Refugee

Refugee are those who are outside their country of nationality and are unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. Unlike Asylees, refugees apply for and receive this status prior to entry into the U.S.

37. Saw

SAW is the acronym for Special Agricultural Worker or an individual who qualified for legalization under section 302 or 303 of IRCA.

38. Temporary protected status (TPS)

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a status granted by DHS to individuals living in the U.S. who are from certain designated countries where unsafe conditions make it a hardship to return to that country. Individuals who qualify for TPS are authorized to remain in the U.S. for a specific period of time and are eligible for an employment authorization document (EAD).

39. Temporary resident alien

See non-immigrant.

40. Trust territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI)

In 1947 under the United Nations (UN) Trusteeship Agreement, the UN Security Council made the U.S. responsible for various islands located in the Pacific. In November 1986, the Northern Mariana Islands became a Commonwealth of the U.S. and the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia became self-governing republics. In May 1994, the UN Trusteeship Council concluded the U.S. had satisfactorily discharged its obligations. In October 1994, Palau (Belau) became a self-governing republic. There are no islands still under the Trusteeship.

41. TTPI

See Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

42. Undocumented alien

An undocumented alien is an alien who does not have proper DHS documentation and is in violation of U.S. immigration law.

43. Visa

A visa is a document, issued by U.S. embassies and consulates in foreign countries, which is a permit for the foreign national to proceed to a U.S. port of entry to apply to DHS for admission to the U.S. The DHS immigration officer at the port of entry decides the conditions (i.e., category of admission and length of stay in the U.S.) based on the visa category.

44. Visa (immigrant)

See immigrant visa.

45. Visa (non-immigrant)

See non-immigrant visa.

46. Visa code

The VISA code is the code on the visa that identifies the section of the INA under which the individual may apply to enter the U.S.

47. Visa waiver program

The Visa Waiver Program is a program where an individual from a designated country who does not have a visa may apply to DHS to enter the U.S. for up to 90 days as a visitor. DHS issues the individual an automated or paper I-94W with a WB or WT alien classification (see RM 10211.135).

48. I-20 certificate of eligibility for non-immigrant student status

The school completes Form I-20 for an alien accepted for a full-course of study and sends it to the alien. The alien then submits the form to the U.S. consular officer when applying for a student (F-1 or M-1) visa and then to the immigration officer upon arrival in the U.S. The form is evidence of student status.

49. I-94 arrival/departure record and CBP I-94A departure record

These are forms issued by DHS to all documented non-immigrants (e.g., students, visitors, parolees, refugees and Cuban/Haitian entrants) at the time they lawfully enter the U.S. and include the collection of arrival/departure and admission information. In April 2013, DHS began issuing electronic versions of the I-94s at air and sea ports of entry. The CBP I-94A is a computer generated paper form issued at land border ports of entry (see RM 10211.135).

50. I-94W visa arrival/departure record

The I-94W Visa Waiver Arrival/Departure Record is a form issued by DHS to non-immigrant visitors from certain countries (see RM 10211.135).

51. I-551 alien registration receipt card

The I-551 Alien Registration Receipt Card is the regular card, which is type 1, issued by DHS to an alien who has been granted LAPR status and is residing in the U.S. (see GN 00303.440B.1 for information concerning other types of the I-551).

52. Temporary I-551

A temporary I-551 is a stamp in the alien's passport or on Form I-94. It is given to an immigrant who has either just entered the U.S. and has not yet received an I-551 card or to an immigrant who has applied for a replacement I-551 card (see RM 10211.025).

53. I-586 non-resident alien border crossing card

I-586 Non-resident Alien Border Crossing Card is issued by DHS to Mexican citizens living near the border to facilitate their entry into the U.S. for visits of up to 72 hours. The alien may travel to areas within 25 miles of the U.S. - Mexico border.

54. I-766 employment authorization document

Form I-766 is an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by DHS. It replaces I-688 forms which can no longer be accepted to prove age, identity, or work-authorization for SSN evidence. Form I-766 is now the only acceptable employment authorization document for SSN evidence. This document will be a card issued to aliens who are authorized to work temporarily in the United States.

55. I-797 Notice of Action

I-797 Notice of Action is a DHS approval notice. It is acceptable as evidence for an SSN only when DHS approves Family Unity Program benefits for the alien and it shows an “A” number and a “valid from date to date.

56. I-797A Notice of Action

I-797A Notice of Action is a DHS approval notice for non-immigrant cases involving aliens in the U.S. It is only acceptable as evidence of a change from one non-immigrant status to another or an extension of non-immigrant status. It is not acceptable evidence of alien status. The tear-off I-94 portion of the form is acceptable evidence of alien status (see RM 10211.135).

57. I-797B Notice of Action

I-797B Notice of Action is a DHS approval notice for aliens outside the U.S. It is not evidence of alien status.

58. I-797C Notice of Action

I-797C Notice of Action is most common of the I-797 series documents because it is used for denial letters and receipts. It is not evidence of alien status it is not a secure document. It is the receipt that is given to immigrants who file with DHS while they wait on other documentation.

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RM 10211.001 - Who Must Submit Evidence of Lawful Alien Status for an SSN Card - 02/07/2024
Batch run: 02/07/2024