SS card replacement questions

I just got a call from a hysterical friend. Here’s the bio details and the facts as best as I could make them out through the hysteria from a brief phone call:

She was born 35 years ago while her parents, both US citizens, were vacationing in the UK. She has lived and worked in the US all of her life, has a SS#, went to college here, is currently a homeowner, is in the process of selling her apartment in NY to buy in Philly, and has a driver’s license.

She went to the SS office today to get a new SS card and fears she’s about to begin adventures in beaurocratic wonderland. In order to replace the card they asked her to present some other forms of ID in addition to her driver’s license, such as a birth certificate or document from the British Consulate, or a passport, none of which she has. (Her parents are divorced and are far less than the most responsible people in the world and are apparently unreliable to provide any such documentation).

Being unable to provide these things, they told her she’d need to go to the immigration office.

I believe these are all the details I know at this point. So here are the questions:

  1. First off, she was a bit hysterical as I’ve mentioned. Does this seem sound or might I have misunderstood a detail in there?

  2. If she’s a homeowner, with a college degree,and has been working steadily in her career for some years, isn’t there some easy way to prove that she is a citizen without presenting the other documents I mentioned? Is this really an issue to be handled by immigration?

  3. What are the possible scenarios? (I don’t see deportation as a possibility, but in her freaked out state I think she was imagining the worst. Should she actually be worried about that?)

If I were her, I would start with the British Consulate. They might be able to get her squared away with no trouble.

Failing that, she might want to track down whoever maintains such records in the U.K. and see whether her birth certificate indicates the citizenship of her parents. (Just listing her parents on the birth certificate might be adequate if there is a way to link the names on the certificate to the human beings currently hiding out in the U.S. as citizens.)

Yeah, the new rules are pretty tight. I just discovered that I had to get new SS cards for my kids so that they could get state IDs or drivers’ licenses and my daughter was over 18, so I had to find a photo ID. (They accepted her HS student ID.)

The federal government has mandated increased security with identifying materials to help prevent identity theft, and illegal immigration. It will cause more headaches for everybody, but she is not really being singled out here. Getting a replacement card wasn’t so hard years ago, but times change. The S.S. site should have details about the current procedure. Both parents are citizens, so it’s not like she’ll be deported. Having a birth certificate is important for everybody, so people that don’t have copies should get ones, or they’ll be hitting a brick wall in the next few years.

You might also have her check with the state to which her parents returned upon re-entry, although I would not consider that a strong possibility:

The Social Security Administration guidlelines to replace the card begin on this page:

And here is the official list of Documents You Need for a Social Security Card. From there you can link to a page indicating the documents required which asks a couple of questions, then throws up a pop-up window that includes the information:

If her parents are that disorganized, perhaps one is a packrat. Have her ask whether she was given a passport as an infant and if it is stuffed in with baby memorabilia.

Yes, immigration is precisely the place for the issue to be handled. None of those three things you cited prove that she’s a citizen. A British citizen (or an illegal alien) can own a home, get a degree, and/or work steadily.

Citizenship can be proved one of four ways – with a passport, a birth certificate, a naturalization certificate, or a certificate of citizenship. Since she doesn’t have the first and isn’t eligible for the second or third, she’ll need to apply for the fourth. This document from the US Citizen and Immigration Services (warning:PDF) explains the process. It’s entitled “I Am a US Citizen? How Do I Get Proof of My Citizenship?”

If her parents registered her birth with a US Consulate (which sounds unlikely), she’ll need to contact the State Department to get a copy of the documentation. If not, she’ll have to apply to have her citizenship recognized with CIS using form N-600. I should note that the CIS says: “However, you may find applying for a passport to be more convenient because it also serves as a travel document and
is often a faster process.”

In either case, I think she’ll need to track down her own birth certificate, plus proof that both of her parents were US citizens.

I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, ymmv, and other standard disclaimers apply.

Thanks for the info all!

It turns out, her mom was actually able to dig up a SS card, so that crisis is at least averted fo the moment. Now she’s gonna go bug her dad to see if he might have some proof of her birth dug away somewhere, for such issues in the future.

General Register Office for England and Wales: Obtaining birth certificates.

General Register Office for Scotland.

U.S. Department of State: Documentation of U.S. citizens born abroad.