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Can I Work Without a Social Security?

If you are in the United States without legal status and you are using a “fake” or “made up” social security number stop! Below we will explain the risk of doing so. To start off people who live in the United States and do not have a valid social security are still allowed to report their income at the end of the year by obtaining an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, (ITIN)


The Individual Taxpayer Identification Number is a United States tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The main difference between a social security number (SSN) and an ITIN is that the SSN is issued to US citizens, Authorized non-citizens and the ITIN is only issued to those who do not have a lawful status.


In order to apply for an ITIN you will need to properly fill form W-7, Application for ITIN number, the form is located on the IRS website. The IRS requires the applicant to send an original identification along with the form, to verify the applicants identity. The identification and ITIN number is later mailed back by the IRS.


Keep in mind that the ITIN expires after five consecutive years. You are required to renew your ITIN after that time, otherwise it will become invalid.


Risk of Using a made up fake social security or someone else’s SSN:


  • It is a fraud and punishable by law, which means an individual may serve prison time.


According to the United States Department of Justice, a Guatemalan man who used someone else’s social security number was sentenced to six months in federal prison.


Falsifying a social security card is against the law.

Providing a made up social security number to open bank accounts, apply for loans, credit cards, bankruptcy, and rent or buy vehicles is a crime under 42 USC 408 (a) (7) (B).


  • It can prevent you from obtaining an immigration benefit.


If you are found guilty the charge could prevent you from applying to obtain an immigration benefit.

There are several factors that are considered by the US Department of Homeland Security (USCIS) when applying for a benefit. If the applicant is found guilty of using a fake social security number USCIS might determine that it was used for the purpose of obtaining a public benefit in the United States or to pretend to be a US citizen or Legal Permanent Resident. Pretending to have legal status is considered a form of misinterpretation.


While the immigration law offers several waivers for misinterpretation, there is currently no waiver for someone who pretended to be a US Citizen to obtain a public benefit.


  • You may be arrested by ICE.


According to the Department of Homelad Security, the mission of U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is to protect America from the crime and illegal immigration that threaten national security and public safety.


There are several ways a person might end up in ICE Custody, but the most common is after being arrested by a local police agency. It is common for ICE agents to go to state jails and prison to look for people who were arrested and are not US Citizens. Usually if ICE finds an individual that is in custody they will issue a warrant for arrest.


These are just a few examples of the consequences of obtaining a made up social security number or using someone else’s number to report your income.

The button line is that you can still obey the United States laws by obtaining an ITIN number.


If you need assistance in this process please contact us at (832) 971-6512.

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