Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer or an Uber representative. This article should be treated as my personal interpretation of the law and Uber’s policy. Non-US citizens should talk to an attorney before applying to drive for Uber.
Are you eligible to become an Uber driver if you’re not a citizen of the US? I’ve seen this question from international students looking to make extra money and visa workers who want a second job. Do you have to have a green card (permanent residency status), or can you drive for Uber while you hold other types of visas?
It’s not an easy question to answer because Uber doesn’t publicly explain rules for noncitizens, and as a noncitizen you might not want to risk your residency status by trying to apply for a job that could cause trouble with immigration officials. I wanted to get to the bottom of this, so I emailed my local Uber support team for a clear answer that can help you make a more informed decision.
Uber says: You need a Social Security number to become a driver
I asked an Uber representative if a noncitizen can drive for Uber, and I got this brief response:
“The background check requires a Social Security number. If the potential partner has a Social Security number then that would work.”
So…that’s it? I was hoping that the Uber rep would explain whether visa workers and other nonresidents in the US are permitted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS, the agency that oversees immigration) to drive for Uber, but instead I got that deceptively simple answer.
All you need to drive for Uber (in addition to all the other Uber driver requirements) is a Social Security number, and all you need it for is the background check. But is it a good idea for noncitizens to drive for Uber? Can driving for Uber affect your working visa status or residency status? Uber doesn’t offer a detailed answer to the question.
The way Uber seems to see it, if you’re eligible for a Social Security number, you’re eligible to work in the US, so you should be able to drive as an independent contractor. But Uber doesn’t acknowledge that there are special circumstances that allow a person to have a Social Security number without having permission from the DHS to work for Uber. Uber says you can drive, but the DHS might not agree.
What types of non-US citizens can get a Social Security number?
- Permanent residents (green card holders), refugees, people granted political asylum
- Work visa holders (H1B)
- People who aren’t permitted to work in the US, but need an SSN to apply for other government benefits
Types of non-US citizens who can drive for Uber
Permanent residents (green card), refugees, and people granted political asylum should be able to drive for Uber.
Types of non-US citizens who can NOT drive for Uber
- International students (F1 visa) – Your work must relate to your studies
- Non-resident workers (H1B, H2B visa) – You can only do the job specified in your visa
Can you drive for Uber with an international driver license?
No. You must have a US driver license for at least one year.
California: Can you drive for Uber with an AB-60 license?
Most likely not, because AB-60 licenses are for undocumented immigrants who do not have a social security number. You need at least a social security number to drive for Uber, and if you have a social security number, you can get a regular CA license.
I asked Uber if drivers with an AB-60 are qualified to drive, but they never gave me a direct answer. But from my research, I’ve found that the AB-60 won’t work for Uber.
The big problem: Uber might hire you even if it violates your visa!
You may be able to get a Social Security number as a non-US resident and begin driving for Uber, but by doing so, you may be violating the terms of your visa or residency. Don’t depend on Uber to figure out your unique immigration status and protect you from immigration problems. In the end, it’s your responsibility to figure out whether or not you can drive for Uber.
Talk to an immigration lawyer first!
Immigration law is complicated. Mistakes can have an irreversible effect on your residency status and your visa, so you should consult with an immigration attorney before you apply to drive for Uber.