Recently I was asked by our HR team, “there is an international employee who has applied for their Social Security Number but will receive the number in the next couple of months. Can we process their payroll without their SSN?” My answer, yes we can! But as it was the last payroll for the year, I suggested to have the start date of January 1 to keep the W2 process clean.
So yes, employers can hire and pay an employee who has applied for their SSN or are in the process of applying for their SSN.
If the employee still does not have the Social Security Number at the time the company is filing the W2s with the IRS; the company should show all zeroes in the SSN if filing electronically and “Applied For” in Box a if doing paper filings. When the employee receives her SSN, the company should file Form W2c to show the employee’s Social Security number.