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Alternative Identification Documents for New Immigrants

Landlords are allowed to request identity documentation and conduct inquiries to determine whether a potential renter meets the criteria for rental, as long as the same process is applied to all potential renters. Singling out individuals to provide information regarding their immigration status because of their national origin is unlawful discrimination. For example, asking only Mexican immigrants for proof of immigration status and not asking the same documentation of other applicants is a violation of the Fair Housing Act.

Requiring that all applicants have a social security number disproportionately excludes prospective tenants based on national origin. If Social Security Numbers (SSN) are ordinarily used as part of the applicant screening process, alternative documents should be accepted, such as:

  • Citizenship Card/Consulate Cards 
  • INS Form I-864 Sponsorship Verification 
  • Certificate of Naturalization INS I-550 
  • US Passport 
  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) 
  • Unexpired foreign passport 
  • Alien Registration Receipt Card with Photograph 
  • Unexpired temporary resident card (I-688) 
  • Unexpired employment authorization card (I-688A or I 688B)
  • Unexpired Reentry permit 
  • Unexpired refugee travel document 
  • Government-issued Driver’s License or ID card 
  • INS Form I-864 Sponsorship Declaration 
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID 

Housing providers who refuse to rent to prospective tenants due to their citizenship or immigration status may violate the Fair Housing Act’s prohibitions on national origin housing discrimination. If you live in Philadelphia, Southeast Pennsylvania or the Lehigh Valley and have questions about identification documents and fair housing compliance, contact info@equalhousing.org, 866-540-FAIR or contact us.

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