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Social Security Administration To Verify Foreign Nationals Documents With CIS

On September 1, 2002, the Social Security Administration (SSA) implemented a nationwide policy change in the processing of Social Security Number (SSN) applications submitted by all foreign nationals. The change requires the SSA to verify a foreign national's immigration documents and status with the Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS)'s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) information service and database before processing an application for a new SSN or a replacement card. A more rigorous check is required for foreign nationals who were either born in, or most recently resided in, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Libya.

At this time it is unclear if this additional step in processing will result in significant delays in the issuance of SSNs, but early reports are that the applicants are being told to expect to wait up to four to six weeks for their SSN applications to be processed.

Employers should be aware that foreign nationals who have been in the U.S. for less than 30 days may still have their SSN applications processed even if the SAVE system does not verify their CIS documentation. If the foreign national submits his or her application after the 30 day mark, he or she will have to wait for the SSA to receive a positive verification from SAVE before the SSA will process the SSN application. By encouraging foreign national employees to apply for their SSNs quickly, employers can help their employees avoid delays that may result from this new practice.

The SSAs detailed instructions to its field offices regarding this new policy is contained in a July 12, 2002 SSA Policy Instruction on Processing Social Security Number Applications from foreign nationals using the SAVE system.


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