ITINs vs. SSNs: Can I Work in the US?

If you're a non-U.S. citizen who is currently residing in the United States, you may be wondering whether or not you're eligible to work. From international students and temporary workers to immigrants and expatriates, many different populations of non-U.S. citizens share this same question.

ITINs vs. SSNs Can I Work in the US

This confusion often arises around the roles of Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) and Social Security Numbers (SSNs) in the context of employment. While both ITINs and SSNs are issued by the government, their purposes, particularly concerning employment, are distinct.

What Are ITINs and SSNs?

An ITIN is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for tax reporting purposes. It allows individuals who are not eligible for an SSN, including nonresident and resident aliens, to comply with U.S. tax laws. It's important to note that an ITIN does not authorize an individual to work in the United States, and it does not provide eligibility for Social Security benefits or qualify a dependent for Earned Income Tax Credit purposes.

On the other hand, a Social Security Number (SSN) is a requirement for legal employment in the U.S. It is issued to citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents under section 205(c)(2) of the Social Security Act. The SSN is used by employers to report an individual's earnings to the United States government and to determine eligibility for Social Security benefits.

Can You Work in the United States with an ITIN?

The most important thing to be aware of is that an ITIN alone does not give you authorization to work in the United States. Non-citizens will still need a valid work permit, visa, green card, or other documentation to legally work inside the country.

However, an ITIN does allow you to pay taxes on any income you may receive while residing in the United States. It can also be used for other purposes, such as opening a bank account and even enrolling in some health insurance plans.
Simply put, having an SSN is essential for obtaining legal employment in the United States outside of other non-citizen work authorization.

Requirements for Obtaining an SSN as a Non-Citizen

To apply for an SSN as a non-citizen, you'll need to apply for a social security card (Form SS-5) through the Social Security Administration. Likewise, you'll need to provide a minimum of two documents proving your identity and immigration status, such as a work permit. Depending on whether you're a student or exchange visitor, you may also need to provide additional documentation that will need to be submitted to your local SSA office.

If you don't want to apply for an SSN or cannot get approved for an SSN but still want to work legally in the United States, consider your eligibility for work visa options, such as:

  • Temporary non-immigrant visas (like H, L, and R visas)
  • Permanent immigrant worker visas
  • Student and exchange visitor visas (such as F and M visas)
  • Temporary visit for business visas

The Bottom Line ITIN vs. SSN for Work

While both ITINs and SSNs are forms of valid identification in the United States, an ITIN alone isn't enough to work legally in this country. Instead, you must follow the proper legal procedures to apply for work authorization and (where applicable) an SSN. From there, you can seek employment with confidence and peace of mind.

Looking for more guidance on employment eligibility as a non-citizen? Workforce PayHub is here to help with personalized assistance in understanding work eligibility and employment-related documentation in the United States. Get in touch today to learn more!

Eric Jones
Second Job or Part-Time Work & Federal Income Tax: Understanding Your W-2 and Pay Statement How to Correct Year-End Payroll Information
Related Posts
  • All
  • By Author
  • By Category
We're Ready To Talk Payroll