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.

By , J.D. · University of Washington School of Law

Even after having lived as undocumented persons in the United States for most of their lives, only after applying for and receiving Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). protection did many people get their first Social Security Number (SSN). With the SSN, they might have been able to get a job, purchase a house, and more. But what will happen to those Social Security Numbers if and when the DACA program ends? Will the numbers be canceled, and if so, where does that leave the former DACA holders?

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

A DACA Social Security Number Might Be Valid Only With a Separate EAD (Work Permit)

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

On the other hand, having received a Social Security Number through the DACA program means that your card very likely 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 immigration status in the United States, and you showed the card to a prospective new employer (in order to fulfill federal legal requirements about documenting your right to work in the United States), 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 U.S. employer would not be able to lawfully hire you.

But Will DACA End?

The status of the DACA program, which was first ordered by President Obama (and meant to be a stopgap while awaiting Congressional action), has been in doubt for years.

The Trump Administration attempted to end DACA entirely, but was largely halted by U.S. federal courts.

In January 2021, Joe Biden became president, and immediately ordered reinstatement of the DACA program. But on July 16, 2021, a Texas federal judge ruled that DACA is illegal. Appeals followed, but the final state of this program remains an open question.

Planning Ahead If You Have DACA

DACA holders have experienced years of stress and uncertainty, trying to plan for their future. If you have DACA and haven't already done renewed, make sure to submit a 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 attorney about your options. There's a chance you might have become eligible for some other form of lawful immigration status or a green card (lawful permanent residence) during the years you have held DACA.

Talk to an Immigration attorney.
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