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Immigration tips following arrival in the United States

Here are some immigration-related matters to keep in mind after arrival in the United States in valid status.

Verifying accurate admission into the U.S.

CBP officers at ports-of-entry may not have extensive training and may not be fully familiar with particular visas.

If there is an issue or problem, individuals should attempt to speak with the supervisor on duty. If the issue or problem is not resolved at the supervisory level, individuals should note as much information as possible about the situation (the location of the incident, the name or badge number of the officer, the specific issue identified, etc.) and contact experienced immigration counsel as soon as possible.

Note that the use of cell phones is typically restricted, so individuals may be unable to call for assistance from the inspections area.

Each time individuals apply for and are granted temporary admission to the U.S., they typically receive a Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record. Individuals should check their Form I-94 at the time of admission to ensure that the visa classification (E-2, L-1, H-1B, etc.) and admission dates are correct.

Individuals should make every effort to have an error corrected at the time of admission. If unable, individuals should contact experienced immigration counsel as soon as possible thereafter.

Applying for a Social Security Number (SSN)

Following arrival in the United States, individuals authorized to work in the country may apply for a Social Security Number (SSN).

Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm recommends waiting at least 10 calendar days following entry to the U.S. to complete the application, to enable time for the nonimmigrant status to update in the Social Security system’s database.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is a separate government agency and is not a division of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The SSA administers social security benefits in the U.S. Any foreign national working in the U.S. must have an SSN.

In order to apply for an SSN, social security applicants must appear in person at a Social Security Administration office to submit their application. Individuals should access the SSA website to obtain the application form/instructions and to locate the closest SSA office.

You should present the following documents to the Social Security official:

  • Valid passport
  • I-94 Record (see above)
  • A completed Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card
  • Second form of identification, such as a U.S. or international driver’s license

Applying for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is for dependent family members who are not work authorized.

An (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is a nine-digit number that always begins with the number 9 and has a 7 or 8 in the fourth digit, example 9XX-7X-XXXX.

The IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, an SSN from the SSA.

ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status because both residents and nonresidents may have U.S. tax return and payment responsibilities under the Internal Revenue Code.

Individuals must have a filing requirement and file a valid federal income tax return to receive an ITIN, unless they meet an exception.

Completing the Form I-9

All U.S. employers must complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and noncitizens.

To complete the form, an employer must examine the employment eligibility and identity document(s) an employee presents to determine whether the document(s) reasonably appear to be genuine and relate to the individual. The employer must record the document information on the Form I-9.


A human resource contact, manager, company agent or representative should ensure that each employee completes a Form I-9 on the first day of work. The company must submit the form no later than the third day of work. A list of documents that may be presented to complete the Form I-9 is available on the last page of the Form I-9.

They include, but are not limited to:

  • Valid passport
  • Form I-94 Arrival Departure Record
  • Notice of Action Form I-797
  • Copy of visa stamp in passport

Completing Form AR-11 (change of address)

Any nonimmigrant or lawful permanent resident living in the United States must notify USCIS of any change of address within 10 days of moving.

It is an individual’s responsibility to file the Form AR-11 with USCIS. Following a move, this form should be submitted online or via certified mail, return receipt requested, to the address listed on the document.

Garfinkel Immigration recommends keeping a copy of the filing and the signed return receipt as proof of satisfying the filing notification requirement.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm at 704-442-8000 or via email with any questions.

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