Skip to main content

Steps to follow from fake SSN to genuine EAD

Transitioning from an ITIN to a valid Social Security number is a straightforward process (particularly if you did not use the ITIN to work illegally in the United States), but moving from a fraudulent or stolen SS# to a genuine number is a lot less smooth.  Technically, Social Security numbers are for life and never really changed, so it is not really a good excuse to present to an employer when you are approved for DACA.  This happens because there really is no process for undocumented aliens who were working without authorization using a fake number to then change their number without changing jobs (and that too is a huge challenge because their credit histories and employment histories are tied to a number that belongs to someone else).  The most complicated cases are those in which an alien assumed the identity of an American or legal resident and now has a valid number.

Looks like we now have some clarity from the Department of Justice (Civil Rights Division - Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices) on how to accomplish this without causing problems for the employer or the DREAMer.  According to this guideline, when an individual presents a valid Social Security card along with valid employment authorization card (EAD) after having used fraudulent paperwork in the past like SS card, green card, birth certificate, etc. to prove that she or he was either a US citizen or permanent resident or legally in the country allowed to work, the only responsibility of the employer is to ask the employee to complete a new I-9 form.  It would be good idea for the employer to keep the fraudulent documents along with valid documents in the employee file just in case legal trouble arises ahead.  The employer may also issue two separate W-2 forms for the year in which the change happened since some FICA payments might have already been made (and let the employee deal with the mess of filing taxes using two identities).  As long as the employer does this, they are legally protected.  Basically, the DOJ is recommending a "look the other way" policy, because the advice to employers is that they need not report the crime to law enforcement or fire the employee for lying on an employment application and committing fraud (always consult an attorney before firing for this specific act because the DREAMer could complain to the Feds and put you in trouble).  It appears that in this new process both the employer and employee are protected from prosecution.