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Yes, it is legal. Your employer needs this information to verify your eligibility to work in the United States, and must document that you provided proof on your I-9 form. Your I-9 must be complete before you are allowed to begin work.
Click here for more information on the I-9 form
There are other forms of ID which are acceptable for verifying your right to work if you feel uncomfortable allowing your employer to photocopy your social security card. Speak with your employer about your alternatives.
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This is the list of acceptable documents: (Reference)
List of Acceptable Documents
In order to prove identity and eligibility for employment in the United States, the Act requires employees to allow examination of one of the following documents:
Documents that Establish Both Identity and Employment Eligibility: "List A"1.United States Passport (expired or unexpired)2.Certificate of US Citizenship (INS Form N-560 or N-5613.Certificate of Naturalization (INS Form N-550 or N-570)4.Unexpired foreign passport, with I-551 stamp or attached INS Form I-94 indicating unexpired employment auth.5.Permanent Resident Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card with photograph (INS Form I-151 or I-551)6.Unexpired Temporary Resident Card (INS Form I-668) 7.Unexpired Employment Authorization Card (INS Form I-688A)8.Unexpired Reentry Perrmit (INS Form I-327)9.Unexpired Refugee Travel Document (INS Form I-571) 10.Unexpired Employment Authorization Document issued by the INS which contains a photo (INS Form I-688B)
If you do not have one of the documents listed above, the Act requires that you provide two documents: one from "List B" and one from "List C" (below) for examination and verification of identity and employment eligibility:
Documents that Establish Identity: "List B"1.Driver's license or I.D. card issued by a state or outlying possession of the United States provided it contains a photograph or information such as, name sex, date of birth, height, eye color, and address2.ID Card issued by federal, state or local government agencies or entities provided it contains a photograph or information such as name, gender, date of birth, height, eye color, and address3.School Identification card with a photograph4.Voter's registration card5.U.S. Military card or draft record6.Military dependent's identification card7.US Coast Guard Merchant Mariner card8.Native American tribal documents9.Driver's license issued by a Canadian government authority For persons under age 18 who are unable to present a document listed above:10.School record or report card11.Clinic, doctor, or hospital record12.Day-care or nursery school record
Documents that Establish Employment Eligibility: "List C" 1.US social security card issued by the Social Security Administration (other than a card stating it is not valid for employment)2.Certification of Birth Abroad issued by the Department of State (Form FS-545 or Form DS-1350) 3.Original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by a state, county, municipal authority or outlying possession of the United States bearing an official seal4.Native American tribal document5.US Citizen ID Card (INS Form I-197)6.ID Card for use of Resident Citizen in the United (INS Form I-179) 7.Unexpired employment authorization document issued by the INS (other than those listed under List A)
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