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State Letter #04-14

Clarification of the Social Security Administration’s Procedure for Verifying Refugee and Asylee Status When Applying for a Social Security Card and Verification of Refugee Status with the Department of State Refugee Processing Center

Published: August 6, 2004
Types:
State Letter
Tags:
social security, state department, rpc

TO: STATE REFUGEE COORDINATORS
NATIONAL VOLUNTARY AGENCIES
OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES

FROM: Nguyen Van Hanh, Ph.D.
Director
Office of Refugee Resettlement

SUBJECT: Clarification of the Social Security Administration’s Procedure for Verifying Refugee and Asylee Status When Applying for a Social Security Card and Verification of Refugee Status with the Department of State Refugee Processing Center

This State Letter updates information contained in State Letter 02-04, dated February 8, 2002, regarding verification of refugee status by the Social Security Administration (SSA).  This State Letter provides information regarding current SSA verification procedures for refugees, asylees, Cuban/Haitian entrants, and victims of a severe form of trafficking.  The number of Amerasian arrivals is minimal; as a result, Amerasians are not explicitly mentioned in this State Letter.

Refugees often apply for Social Security numbers within days of arriving in the United States and before data are available through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system.  The following constitutes clarification regarding SSA’s procedures for verifying refugee and asylee status when applying for a social security number.  SSA procedures are also included for verifying Cuban/Haitian entrants and victims of a severe form of trafficking.  Refugees and asylees should receive unrestricted social security cards because they are work-authorized incident to their status.  Since September 11, 2001, SSA is required to verify the status of all immigrants applying for social security cards (SSN). 

For verification of refugee status:  SSA carefully reviews the client’s supporting document(s) (I-94 or an EAD) and the application form for obtaining an SSN (form SS-5).  If the supporting document(s) appears genuine, SSA verifies the applicant’s immigration status by checking the online SAVE database.  If the SAVE query does not confirm the applicant’s immigration status, SSA completes a request for verification of refugee status to the Department of State’s (DOS) Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System (WRAPS), at the Refugee Processing Center (RPC) in Arlington, Virginia.   A response will be faxed back to SSA from DOS/RPC within one to two business days.

If neither SAVE nor WRAPS verifies that the SSN card applicant is a refugee, SSA will then complete Form G-845 and send it to the appropriate DHS office to verify refugee status.

These SSA verification procedures for granting of  SSNs do not apply to States.  Staff from State benefit-granting agencies should follow their procedures for verifying refugee status. See note below.

For verification of asylee status: SSA carefully reviews the client’s supporting document(s) (I-94 or an EAD or an order from an Immigration Judge) and the SS-5 form.  If the supporting document(s) appears genuine, SSA verifies the applicant’s immigration status by checking the online SAVE database.  If the SAVE query does not confirm the applicant’s immigration status, SSA calls the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) automated case status line to verify the applicant’s asylee status.  If neither SAVE nor the EOIR automated case status line confirms the applicant’s asylee status, SSA will complete Form G-845 and send it to the appropriate DHS office to verify status.

For both refugee and asylee statuses, the G-845—Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Document Verification Request form—is only used as a last resort 1) when the other methods described above have not confirmed refugee or asylee status, or 2) if, after the initial review under black light, the supporting documents appear false. 

For additional information on SSA verification status procedures:  SSA’s procedures for verifying refugee and asylee status can be found in the attached SSA policy RM 00203.460 “Evidence for an SSN Card for a Refugee, Parolee, Asylee.”   

Note: State benefit-granting agencies should not use the RPC process to verify refugee status for refugee cash assistance (RCA) and refugee medical assistance (RMA).  The RPC process applies to SSA only.  If the status of a refugee applicant for RCA and RMA cannot be verified through immigration documents or SAVE, State agencies should contact the local resettlement agency which provided for the initial resettlement of the refugee to verify refugee status.

SSA Verification of Other ORR Populations:

For verification of Cuban/Haitian entrant status: For verification of Cuban/Haitian entrants’ immigration status, SSA carefully reviews the client’s supporting document(s) and the SS-5 form.  If the supporting documents appear genuine, SSA verifies the applicant’s immigration status by checking the online SAVE database.  If the SAVE query does not confirm the applicant’s immigration status, SSA completes the G-845 form for a secondary verification.

SSA does not have a special procedure addressing verification of Cuban/Haitian entrant status.  It uses an existing procedure for verifying immigrant documents.  For additional information regarding this procedure, refer to the attached SSA policy RM 00203.740 “Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program.”

For verification of victims of a severe form of trafficking (victim) alien status, SSA uses three distinct procedures depending on the victim’s situation: a victim may have (1) a valid EAD; (2) a current DHS issued document (such as an I-94), but no EAD; or (3) no DHS issued documents, only an original ORR certification letter or a letter of eligibility (child determination letter).  Please note that when a victim does not have a DHS issued document as proof of alien status, an original ORR certification letter or child determination letter is proof that the individual is a victim.  In either situation (2) or (3), the victim is eligible to receive a non-work SSN for benefits purposes.

SSA outlines procedures for assigning and issuing SSNs to victims in the attached Emergency Message-01133, “Assigning SSNs to a New Category of Aliens—Victims of Severe Forms of Trafficking,” effective August 10, 2001.

All of SSA’s policies and procedures can be found in its Program Operations Manual System (POMS) online at http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf.  

Questions regarding this information should be directed to Gayle Smith, Director, Division of Budget, Policy, and Data Analysis (DBPDA) at (202) 205-3590, or by e-mail at gsmith@acf.hhs.gov.