< Back to Search

Refugees Should Receive Unrestricted Social Security Cards

State Letter #00-14

Published: July 12, 2000


FROM: Lavinia Limon, Director
Office of Refugee Resettlement

SUBJECT: Refugees Should Receive Unrestricted Social Security Cards

Refugees should receive unrestricted social security cards. A refugee’s social security card should NOT contain the notation "Valid For Work Only With INS Authorization." This policy is reiterated in the attached Social Security Administration (SSA) Policy Instruction. ORR recommends that refugees bring a copy of the SSA Policy Instruction when they go to social security offices to apply for social security numbers.

ORR had been receiving reports that social security offices throughout the country were issuing restricted cards to refugees. A restricted social security card can interfere with a refugee’s ability to obtain and keep employment. Caseworkers should check social security cards to ensure that refugees have not received cards with restrictive notations. If a refugee has received a restricted card, caseworkers are advised to return to the issuing social security office with the refugee and to present the SSA Policy Instruction so that an unrestricted card can be issued. Also, please inform Anna Marie Bena at the phone number or email address below if you repeatedly encounter problems at certain offices.

If you have questions about the attached SSA Policy Instruction or its effect on refugees, please call Anna Marie Bena at (202) 260-5186 or send an email to abena@acf.dhhs.gov.

Last Reviewed: May 20, 2019