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Mystery surrounding the Social Security Number

by Gilbert Maniraho

I have hard time to understand the reasoning behind the ongoing politics about Illegal aliens and the mystery surrounding SSN for Illegal Versus Legal temporary Visa holders. My wife is educated with a Bachelor Degree in Education with experience and is a potential resource to work in the USA. I am a Canadian Citizen, legally working in USA since 1997. When I come with my family, my family stays in USA on a dependent visa H-4 when I have an H-1B or TD when I have a TN Visa. My current contract started 2004. Since there was a potential for staying longer in this contract, my wife decided to go to school for a RN degree. As an international student, I am paying a tremendous amount of money to the Community College for her tuition (approx. 12000/year). Not only the cost is high, but there is no way for her to get a chance to work, not even at her school, to help me with some extra income, just because she cannot provide a SSN. But, it is so frustrating to hear all over the news how heated are the discussions about giving illegal aliens a temporary permit to work in USA while, at the same time, there are Legal dependents, with legal temporary Visas, striving to get a SSN number, not only for work but also for their daily needs like License or Credential Certification. If the government is "trying so hard" to help illegal aliens to work in USA, I don't understand what is wrong with helping also Legal temporary residents who are willing to work in USA while their spouses are on a temporary contract, and their kids attending school in USA. The following situation is a living proof of what looks wrong to me and should get some attention from the Social Security Administration. The story highlights the different attempts from my wife to legally get a SSN.

In her first attempt to obtain a temporary Social Security Number, my wife decided to work hard and get a License as Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) in order to get a temporary job to help me pay the tuition during her pre-requisite courses for RN degree. She was told that because of her H-4 status as a dependent of H-1B she could not get a SSN. She cannot use the CNA License she worked hard for to work in USA even if she has obtained hundreds of job offers. They told her that she needs a higher degree (RN or LPN) in order to work. Today, she is being told that her CNA License will not be renewed if she doesn't provide a SSN. In her second attempt, she wanted to work as a Teacher or Substitute Teacher since she also has a Bachelor Degree in Education. She was asked to take for an equivalent Teaching degree in the State of Washington. She succeeded the test and was offered a temporary work permit for one year. She was again denied a SSN. The SSA told her to get a Work permit from the Canada/USA border because of NAFTA. At the Peace Arch Border with BC. Canada, the frustration was even worse; the immigration officer named ( I wouldn't release his name for my own protection) did not even let us enter the immigration office arguing that the work permit is not valid for her H-4 status. He even threatened to strip our legal H-1 visa if we insist to see another officer. Until today, my wife is a straight "A" student. She has been recommended so many times by her teachers to several Nursing Homes and Hospitals for a temporary job but without success because of lack of SSN. There is nothing she can do until she can provide the "Very precious" SSN.

After all these attempts, my opinion is that, being a "Legal" temporary resident in USA is more criminal than being "Illegal Alien". Until the end of her RN program, I will be left with no saving while the IRS is collecting taxes on her Tuition since 2005.

About The Author

Gilbert Maniraho is a Canadian Citizen, legally working in USA since 1997.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.