Here's an article straight from the horse's mouth (at least I hope that's the right end). I am on SS's mailing list and this popped up in my email box. I'm shocked, but glad:
Employer Responsibilities When Hiring Foreign Workers The Social Security Administration (SSA) has taken extra steps to ensure the integrity of Social Security numbers. The changes to the way Social Security assigns numbers and issues cards may cause a delay of several weeks or months in receiving a number. This fact sheet addresses employer responsibilities when hiring foreign workers (e.g., students or cultural exchange visitors) who are legally allowed to work in the United States and who have applied for and are waiting to receive a Social Security number and card. Note that the employee may work while the Social Security number application is being processed. 1. What causes delays when foreign workers apply for Social Security numbers? When foreign workers apply for Social Security numbers, SSA verifies their documents directly with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Most applications are verified immediately, but there can be delays. Social Security understands that this process may affect companies who hire foreign workers, but direct verification from DHS is vital to ensuring the integrity of the Social Security number. 2. What are an employer's responsibilities when hiring foreign workers who don't have Social Security numbers? Advise workers that they are required to apply for a Social Security number and card. If a worker applied for but has not yet received a Social Security number, you should get the following information as complete as possible: The worker's full name, address, date of birth, place of birth, father's full name, mother's full maiden name, gender and the date he or she applied for a Social Security number. 3. What if the worker doesn't have a Social Security number when wage reports (Forms W-2) are due to Social Security? Electronic Filers: If the worker applied for a card but didn't receive the number in time for filing, enter all zeros in the field for the Social Security number. Paper Filers: If the worker applied for a card but didn't receive the number in time for filing, enter "Applied For" in Box a. Remember to instruct the worker to tell you the number and the exact name printed on the card, when it is received. 4. My foreign worker received his or her Social Security number after I filed my wage report. What do I do? When you receive the worker's Social Security number, file Form W-2c (Corrected Wage and Tax Statement), to show the worker's number. Go to www.socialsecurity.gov/employer/pub.htm for instructions on filing W-2c’s. SSA/IRS Reporter The SSA/IRS Reporter is a newsletter issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It publishes articles about employment and business tax compliance. The SSA/IRS Reporter also carries general information about best payroll and employment tax practices as well as SSA and IRS products and services. Current and past issues are available in both English and Spanish on www.socialsecurity.gov/employer and http://www.irs.gov/ and search for "Reporter."
There's a newsletter from Jeff Bingaman in the header.