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Essential Documents for New Immigrants to the USA: A Guide by an Immigration Attorney

Welcome to the United States! As an immigration attorney, I understand that moving to a new country can be both exciting and daunting. One of the key steps in ensuring a smooth transition is obtaining the necessary documents to live and work legally in the USA. Here are the five main documents every new immigrant should obtain:

1.  Social Security Number (SSN)**

What is it?

A Social Security Number is a nine-digit number issued by the Social Security Administration, used to track earnings and benefits.

Why is it important?

– **Employment:** Required by employers to report your earnings.

– **Banking:** Necessary for opening bank accounts.

– **Credit:** Essential for building credit history and applying for loans.

– **Taxes:** Needed for filing tax returns and receiving benefits.

How to obtain it?

You can apply for an SSN:

– **When applying for immigration status:** You can request an SSN during this process.

– **At a Social Security office:** If you didn’t request it during the immigration process, you can apply at a local Social Security office.

2. State ID or Driver’s License**

What is it?

A state ID or driver’s license is a government-issued photo identification card.

Why is it important?

– **Identification:** Used as proof of identity and residency.

– **Driving:** A driver’s license allows you to legally drive in the U.S.

– **Everyday Transactions:** Necessary for activities like purchasing alcohol, boarding domestic flights, and accessing certain buildings.

How to obtain it?

– **State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV):** Visit your local DMV office. Requirements typically include proof of residency, proof of identity, and passing a vision test (and driving test for a license).

3.  Employment Authorization Document (EAD)**

What is it?

An EAD, also known as a work permit, allows immigrants who do not yet have permanent residency to work legally in the U.S.

Why is it important?

– **Employment:** It grants the legal right to work while awaiting your permanent residency or during certain immigration statuses.

How to obtain it?

– **USCIS Form I-765:** Submit this form to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) along with the required documentation and fee.

4. **Health Insurance**

What is it?

Health insurance is a type of insurance coverage that pays for medical and surgical expenses incurred by the insured.

Why is it important?

– **Healthcare Access:** Ensures you can receive medical care without prohibitive costs.

– **Legal Requirement:** Under the Affordable Care Act, most residents must have health insurance or pay a penalty.

How to obtain it?

– **Employer:** Many employers offer health insurance as part of their benefits package.

– **Marketplace:** You can purchase insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace at

– **Private Insurance Companies:** You can also buy directly from private insurers.

5. **Proof of Legal Entry**

What is it?

Proof of legal entry is documentation showing you entered the United States legally. This could be your visa, passport with entry stamp, or Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record).

Why is it important?

– **Legal Status:** It is crucial for demonstrating that you entered the country legally and are complying with immigration laws.

– **Immigration Benefits:** Necessary for adjusting your status or applying for other immigration benefits.

How to obtain it?

– **Upon Entry:** Ensure your documents are stamped and recorded when you enter the U.S.

– **USCIS Website:** You can retrieve your Form I-94 online if needed.


Navigating the U.S. immigration system can be complex, but securing these essential documents will lay a solid foundation for your new life in America. As your immigration attorney, I am here to guide you through each step, ensuring you understand the requirements and processes involved. If you have any questions or need assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to my office. Welcome to the United States, and I wish you all the best in your new journey!

If you have a simple or complex immigration question, we can help you legalize in the US in the fastest available way. Schedule your consultation with Shepelsky Law Group today to begin your legalization journey!

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