I am an Indian citizen and I currently hold a valid H-1B visa. This is the first time I am visiting USA on H-1B. The sole purpose of this visit is to spend some time with my friends only (I will be joining the company on my next trip).

I asked my employer to extend the joining date and they agreed to it. Thus they didn't apply for a Social Security Number.

My current status; staying in the USA on H-1B without applying for SSN, Am I doing something illegal here?

  • 12
    Not having or getting an SSN isn't itself a problem. However, coming to the US on H1b visa just to visit and not join the company on this trip might be problematic.
    – user102008
    Mar 23, 2018 at 2:38
  • @user102008 just in terms of "you should be using a tourist visa for that trip" or is there a risk of having the H-1B invalidated for incorrect usage? Mar 23, 2018 at 15:50
  • The SSN is similar to the PAN in India. You apply for it yourself, and it is used for tax purposes (and some other purposes). Mar 23, 2018 at 18:06

2 Answers 2


You only need a Social Security number for working and paying taxes. If you're not yet working, you don't yet need the number.

But you apply for the number, not your employer. If you're in the US in H-1B status, I believe you should be able to apply for the number now. If you're worried about not having one, just go down to the local social security office and get yours.

  • Thanks for the reply. That means I can apply for SSN without the consent of my employer?
    – Amit Pal
    Mar 23, 2018 at 9:00
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    @AmitPal Your SSN is like your bank account number. It's your SSN and it "belongs" to you. Your employer can't consent or not consent, and they can't get it for you, but they do need to know it for administrative reasons. As the answer says, you get it by going to your local Social Security office. Mar 23, 2018 at 10:32
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    @AmitPal you have to give your social security number to your employer before your employer can pay you. The process of applying for a social security number is between you and the US government. If you are in H-1B status, you can apply for a number.
    – phoog
    Mar 23, 2018 at 13:36

Many years ago I entered the US on H-1B and managed to rent a flat, open a bank account and get telephone/cable service without applying for a SSN. Since I was being paid outside of the US still, I didn't actually need one for quite a while. Even when I got one, I still told companies that I didn't have a SSN as I didn't want to give it out unless absolutely necessary.

As Phoog says, you only truly need it when you start on the US payroll.

  • 1
    When I worked in the US, I ended up getting an SSN before getting a bank account. The bank I went to was right next to the university so they were very used to short-term visitors like me having no SSN. The clerk had already written half of the number that means "no SSN" before I could stop her and get her to write in my actual number. :-) Mar 23, 2018 at 10:35
  • I did the same on a B1/B2 visa. And I always loved the moment of incomprehension when I was asked for my SSN and I answered "I don't have one". Now that I have an SSN I only give it out when absolutely necessary. My excuse for not giving it out is that "I can't remember it" - which is easily explained by me being a foreigner
    – Peter M
    Mar 23, 2018 at 14:25
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    By “companies,” you mean banks, telephone/cable companies, and so on, right, not your actual employer?
    – KRyan
    Mar 23, 2018 at 15:33
  • @KRyan Yes, that's what I meant
    – Berwyn
    Mar 23, 2018 at 15:34

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