How to get Social Security Number during Covid 19

You don’t realize how important it is to have a social security number until
you don’t have one. The SSN is required to open up bank accounts, get medical insurance, get a drivers license,
work, and even to be able to be charged lower income tax on a filing as married tax return.

It’s important, it’s necessary, but has been nearly impossible to get during the Pandemic.
Social Security requires an in-person meeting, to apply for the number. And as
Social Security closed offices to the public back in March, this puts your new
immigrant fiance or spouse in between a rock and a hard place.

Fortunately, I recently went through this process with a client of mine, and in this
video will teach you what I found out, so you can get an SSN for your fiance or spouse.

Now, lets talk about “How to get that elusive Social Security number while Social Security offices
are on Covid 19 lock down.”

Normally to obtain a Social Security number (SSN), after immigrating to the USA on a spouse,
relative, or fiancée visa, one goes in person to the nearest Social Security Administration
(SSA) office presents identification and receives the SSN a month later.

Unfortunately during the COVID-19 pandemic most Social Security offices are closed and not
allowing in-person visits. This has caused a lot of frustration and delays for new immigrants
who need a social security number in order to open up bank accounts, get insurance, and apply for work.

Fortunately, you can still get the SSN. Here’s how.

The procedure is not publicly described at their websites, so to find out exactly what to do and how,
you MUST make a few phone calls to SSA to find out how and what to do in your area.

That’s exactly what I did recently and now I will share my experience with you.

K1 Fiance Visa

A recently arrived K-1 fiancée visa traveler, is eligible to obtain a Social Security number
by applying between day 15 and day 60 after arrival. Even though publicly and officially SSA
is closed to the public and not conducting in-person interviews, in practice they are conducting
some interviews and currently WILL do so for your Fiance Visa partner.

The way to do this is as follows:

Step 1: Google search for the telephone number of your local Social Security office, Call them. Identify yourself
that you need a first time, Social Security number for a recently arrived K-1 fiancée visa holder.

The key words to emphasise are “FIRST TIME”. The first operator you call probably can’t help, but should redirect you to
another number, at another office. You may need to make a series of phone calls. Rinse and repeat until you
finally reach the single, there is always one, actual office in your area that is handling First Time cases.

Step 2: Over the phone, provide detailed information about your fiancé including his/her local contact information and telephone numbers.

Step 3: Eventually, few days, or weeks, you will be called back and your Fiance provided a date to come in for
an in-person interview. The caller ID will says “US Government”‘. But it is not a spam call. It is Social Security.
I almost blocked the call cause I get many spam calls claiming to be something they are not. But this is legit.

An appointment date will be set, usually for a few days later. Your fiancé should bring passport, a filled in SSN application
(https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf) and I-94. The I-94 is available online. https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/,

It’s also a good idea to bring original and a photocopy or a certified copy and photocopy of your Fiance’s birth Certificate.
Eventually the Social Security number will be issued.

If you are already married, and if your new spouse has changed last name to yours, also bring the marriage certificate and a photocopy.

Social Security may or may not issue the SSN in the married name. Either way is OK, but is worthwhile to ask as it would save
you another trip later.. If they prefer to issue in the maiden name, and they regularly do insist on this because they
often only will issue the SSN to the name shown on the passport and I-94.

It is not a problem. Later once you get green card or work authorization return to Social Security, hopefully by then the pandemic is past,
and update to the new married name.

Regular Immigration (Spouse or Relative)

In the case of regular immigration, such as your spouse arriving on a CR1 or IR1 visa or a family member,
or diversity lottery winner, the process is similar.

Step 1: Google search for a local Social Security office’s telephone number Call and identify yourself that you
need a first time, Social Security number for a new immigrant. Emphasize “FIRST TIME”. The first person you call
probably can’t help, but should redirect you to another number, at another office. Rinse and repeat till you are
talking to the office in your area assigned to handle such cases.

Step 2: They will give you their mailing address and instruct your immigrant to mail them, passport and the filled in
social security number application form.

Step 3: Send to the Social Security Office,the immigrant’s passport, it show have his/her arrival visa,
and the social security number application form. https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf
Use certified mail with tracking. You don’t want to take any chance that your passport gets lost.

Step 4: Eventually the Social Security office will call, and schedule a time to go to the
designated office, meet with the clerk and be approved for the SSN. There the clerk checks your passport id page
matches the applicant. Passport is returned at that time. And social security number is issued by mail a few weeks later.

This was Fred Wahl, The VisaCoach

Effects of Biden Presidency on Fiancee, Spouse + Green card Immigration

President Trump promised a “Wall” to reduce immigration. While only partial progress on a concrete and steel wall was accomplished, great strides were made in limiting legal immigration via a paper wall of stringent policies that greatly increased the complexity and difficulty of passing through the immigration process.

President-Elect Biden has yet to take office, however I do expect that within the first hundred days of his taking office, deliberate executive action will be taken in an attempt to unravel the “Trump effect” on immigration.

This is GOOD news for Applicants.

Today I am going to forecast how I expect the Biden Administration’s occupancy of the White House to affect your application.

President Trump vowed to reduce immigration. And he was successful.  Over 450 executive and administrative adjustments, both major and subtle, were made to toughen immigration rules and procedures. He instituted extreme vetting, where all applicants are more highly scrutinized than ever before, Banned entire countries from being allowed visas to the USA, added tighter Public Benefits eligibility requirements which created a virtual “wealth test”, and instituted a pervasive organization wide culture change in the way that USCIS views and treats immigrants.

United States Citizenship and Immigration service (USCIS), once viewed immigrants as its clients, to be served. It’s officers traditionally believed they were following a pro-immigrant, humanitarian mission. The mission was to help refugees escape persecution, American Companies bring in needed talent, and reunify families with their loved ones.

Many officers initially joined USCIS in order to pursue that noble mission. In the recent four years many of these same officers, disillusioned, have resigned, as under Trump, the priorities changed from helping eligible immigrants come to the USA,  to finding ways to keep them out.

In 2018, under the Director selected by Trump, USCIS’s official mission statement was drastically altered. Removed were references to a “nation of immigrants” and to immigrants as “customers” whom the agency serves.  Now the mission statement basically reads “enforce immigration laws”. Immigrants are no longer customers, now they are suspects. USCIS’s Budget for fraud prevention and detection doubled between 2016 and 2020

Here’s my forecast of what’s going to happen after President-Elect Biden takes office..

#1 New USCIS Director

To reverse the current “anti-immigrant” culture at USCIS will require a top down management change. That will start when President-elect Biden  chooses a new director of USCIS, and assigns him or her the mandate to return USCIS to it’s prior mission of treating immigrants as clients, not adversaries, and working towards assisting them navigate lawful, and proper immigration. With new top down guidance, USCIS should relax it’s restrictionist “extreme vetting” and move to return to its earlier, more Humanitarian mission.

#2 End of Immigrant Harassment

While detailed and proper screening of applicants is reasonable, unfortunately in recent years the application review process has deteriorated from normal and expected due diligence into in essence, in many cases, deliberate  harassment. Requests for evidence ( RFE’s) were frequently issued for non-material reasons.

Cases were denied for similarly trivial issues such as leaving fields that were not applicable, blank. Or incorrectly writing not applicable as NA vs N/A.

Revised Forms with no real modifications,  would be announced and instead of giving adequate time usually one or two months for applicants to change over to the new versions, only One, single,  day notice was given. And the applications that were already in the mail which had used the earlier nearly identical version, and which was the correct one to use on the day of mailing,  were rejected.

Cases that previously would not require an interview, would be held and delayed many months awaiting availability of already overworked and limited interviewing staff.

For a few months this summer, even cases which had successfully gone through the entire tedious process, including interview and official APPROVAL, were put on hold, waiting many months for the printing of their approved work, travel and green cards. A long term contract USCIS had with the printing company had expired. And even though the contract’s expiry date, and need for replacement was known, long, realistically years in advance, no action on USCIS’s part to replace the contract and obtain alternative printing was taken, at least not until a court order forced USCIS to take proper action.

This change of attitude will rely on the New top management at USCIS. Their leadership will be critical to return USCIS to a culture of helping immigrants versus holding them back.

#3 Faster Processing

Less energy wasted by USCIS staff seeking excuses to delay individual cases, will result in more efficient, smoother and overall faster processing of cases.

#4 Lower Denial Rate

With restriction of immigration no longer being the guiding rule of the day, expect the cases that were previously denied due to trivial and non-material issues, or which were not given opportunity to clarify and justify misunderstandings now should receive a fairer hearing, and the approval rate should rise accordingly..

#5 Fee increase to be adjusted downwards

USCIS does not receive taxpayer dollars to pay for its operations. Instead it is self funded by the fees it charges immigrants. Originally to be effective on October 2, USCIS had requested an overhaul of its fee structure. The fees for some applications such as green cards and US citizenship went through the roof, they increased tremendously.

At the moment, this fee increase is temporarily on hold, halted by a court injunction.

The new fees requested are calculated based on what USCIS feels is needed to pay for its operations. I expect that under the Biden Administration the future, “user friendlier” USCIS, will find that since less time and energy is wasted, deliberately trying to obstruct the immigration process, that their operations will be more efficient, and less costly. Once the cost accountants do the math again, the fee increases needed may be found unnecessary, or only a smaller increase is needed.

#6 End to “Trump” or “Muslim” Travel Ban

The so-called “Muslim ban” that bans the issuance of visas to the USA from citizens of 15 countries, Chad, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Myanmar, Nigeria, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Venezuela and Yemen will be lifted.

#7 Public Benefits “wealth test” Dropped

The most effective stumbling block to Legal immigration, to come out of the Trump administration was the broadening of the definition of what constitutes a public benefit. This new definition has been used to make it much more difficult for an immigrant to be deemed eligible to receive a green card and permanent residency in the USA. Not only are applicants required to prove that they never received public benefits, but must also convince the officer that in the future, no matter what happened, they would not possibly, conceivably, never, ever need public benefits forever into the future. This “wealth test”, and it’s extremely complicated resulting application paperwork will be removed or at very least greatly relaxed.

How Soon for these changes to happen ?

Immigration is not a hot-button issue for President-elect Biden as it was for President Trump. After the first few popular and headline grabbing executive orders are announced, namely dropping of the “muslim ban” and :”wealth test”, and appointment of a new USCIS Director, the rest of the job to reverse  the “Trump effect” will most likely be left in the hands of the newly appointed USCIS management.

We all hope President-elect Biden chooses the new USCIS Director well. This choice will determine how fast and how well the intricate unraveling of so many changes, procedures, policies and overall mentality that the Trump administration injected into US immigration takes place.

It’s going to take time. It may take years, and perhaps more than one administration to get back to where we once were.

Public Benefits Wealth Test dropped

Public Benefits, Public Charge Rules restricting Immigration have have been relaxed.

Under President Trump, the eligibility requirements for a foreign applicant who wanted to immigrate to the USA or adjust status to permanent residency were made much stricter.

This affected all immigrants including Fiancee’s and Spouse’s of US citizens.

The purpose was to keep immigrants out.

The rules were tightened to examine an applicant’s age, health, family status, assets resources, and financial status, and education and skills.

Required were health insurance, credit reports, proof of assets, and debts, diplomas, vocational certificates and most daunting of all was the possibility of denial, IF in an officers felt that an applicant, might, possibly, need government support in the future, even if never asked for assistance before, the application could be denied.

Good news. President Biden has tossed out these stricter requirements.

The older, pre Trump eligibility standards are now back.

And now, once again, only those currently receiving Cash Income Assistance or maintenance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and state General Relief Assistance are ineligible for immigration.

This was Fred Wahl, The VisaCoach