How To Get A Social Security Number and Driver’s License

Updated 7/7/2021

The social security number and driver’s license are critical documents that will make other aspects of your life easier, such as opening a bank account, applying for a residential lease, etc. However, you must have certain documents to obtain these. The information below is relevant for foreign nationals who are applying for permanent residence by filing the adjustment of status application (I-485) in the US. If you have a nonimmigrant visa status, the attorney who assisted with your case will be able to advise on what documents you will need to obtain the social security number and driver’s license.

Social Security Number

When you apply for the employment authorization document (frequently referred to as the work permit or EAD), we can mark a box on the form to indicate that you would like to also receive a social security number. If you do that, the Social Security Administration (SSA) should send you the social security number card in the mail shortly after the EAD is approved. The SSA will not issue the SSN until the EAD is approved. For more information on how to obtain the social security number, please visit this page.

If you do not yet have the EAD but still need to file taxes and therefore need a social security number, you may be able to receive an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) instead. ITINs are issued by the IRS. A CPA (accountant) should be able to assist with this process.

Driver’s License

The requirements for obtaining a U.S. driver's license are different in each state. In Virginia, you can apply for the Virginia driver’s license once you have the I-485 receipt notice. However, it is not enough to simply present the I-485 receipt notice. When you apply for a Virginia driver's license, you must show:

  • Identity
  • Legal presence
  • Virginia residency
  • Social security number, if the individual has been issued one

For information about which documentation is acceptable for identify, Virginia residence, and the social security number, you may visit this page. To establish legal presence, the Virginia DMV will accept the I-485 receipt notice. This is also sometimes referred to as Form I-797. The applicant usually receives the I-485 receipt notice within a few weeks of filing the I-485 application package. For a complete list of documentation that the Virginia DMV will accept for proof of legal presence, you may visit this page.

Do you need assistance with a family-based or employment-based immigration matter? Contact our office at 804-396-3412 or at today to learn how we can help!