Is My Social Security Number Still Good After DACA Program Ends?

Understanding the limits of one's Social Security Number with no underlying DACA status.

Question

I have lived in the U.S. most of my life, but never had a Social Security Number until I got DACA. Now I have a job, and a house. But I'm wondering: What would happen to my Social Security Number if DACA ended? Would it be canceled? If the number is not canceled, and I have to find a new job, why shouldn't I just be able to keep giving my number to employers in order to get a job?

Answer

The answer to this is less clear cut than you might expect, as we'll discuss.

Your Social Security Number might be valid only with a separate work permit

On the one hand, your Social Security Number (SSN) is yours for life. It will not be canceled or changed if and when the DACA program truly ends. What's more, the amount your employer deducted from your paycheck and paid into the Social Security system remains on your record, and creating a possibility of benefits for you if and when you retire or are disabled.

On the other hand, having received your Social Security Number (SSN) through the DACA program, your card probably contains the following text: "VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH DHS AUTHORIZATION."

That means that if you were to find another job after DACA had ended without your having obtained any alternate status in the U.S., and you showed the card to your new employer (in order to fulfill federal legal requirements about documenting your right to work), your employer would no doubt ask to see your work permit (also called an employment authorization document or EAD).

Because you would no longer have an unexpired work permit by then, the employer would not be able to lawfully hire you.

But will DACA end?

The Trump Administration made numerous attempts to terminate DACA. Although the Supreme Court said in 2020 that these efforts were an "arbitrary and capricious" failure, the Administration kept trying, including refusing to accept new initial applications (renewals only).

Nevertheless, in January 2021, Joe Biden became president, and immediately ordered reinstatement of the DACA program.

Eventually, Biden also hopes to protect dreamers and their parents by creating a roadmap to citizenship through legislative immigration reform. That will require Congress to come to an agreement, however, which it has failed to do for many years running.

Planning ahead if you have DACA

DACA holders have experienced many years of stress and uncertainty, trying to plan ahead. If you have DACA and haven't already done so, submit a DACA renewal application as soon as you're allowed to do so. (See How to Renew Your DACA Status for procedural details.)

By all means speak to an experienced immigration lawyer about your options. There's a chance you might have become eligible for some other form of lawful status or a green card (lawful permanent residence) during the years you have held DACA.

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