Restricted Social Security Card

You are completing Form I-9 for a new employee, and she has presented List B and C documents… a driver’s license and a Social Security card. But the SS card has info printed on it that you’ve never seen before. Here’s what you should do when a new hire presents a restricted Social Security card.

Restricted Social Security Card Not Valid for Form I-9

restricted social security card

The bottom line is that you should never accept a restricted Social Security card to complete Form I-9. A restricted card is one that includes one of the following notations on its face:

  • “Not valid for employment”
  • “Valid for work only with INS work authorization”
  • “Valid for work only with DHS authorization”

A restricted Social Security card, when presented as a List C document, does not prove work authorization… the very purpose of a List C document. Social Security cards are issued for various reasons not related to employment. In fact, there are three types of Social Security cards:

  • unrestricted cards, issued to individuals who are always authorized to work (U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents);
  • restricted cards, issued to individuals who are in the U.S. temporarily and are authorized to work while here;
  • non-work cards, issued for reasons other than employment.

Employees who possess a restricted Social Security card are authorized to work for a limited time, so they must prove work authorization via a document with an expiration date. This will be a document from List A like an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

What Should I Do When the Employee Presents a Restricted Social Security Card?

When the new hire presenting a List B document also presents a restricted Social Security card, you are allowed to and, in fact, must reject the restricted Social Security card, since it is not an acceptable Form I-9 document, and ask the employee to choose different documentation from List A or List C of Form I-9.


It’s true that Form I-9 rules can be confusing, but the rule on restricted Social Security cards is clear — you must never accept and describe in Section 2 a restricted Social Security card.

This page updated 05/14/2019