Taxes & Social Security
- You must have a social security number in order to work in the U.S. The number on the card is used for employment.
- The social security number is used for any fellowships and/or scholarships you may receive from the university.
- The social security number is used when filling out Internal Revenue Service (IRS) forms at the end of the tax period. All F-1 students and all non-resident aliens are required to fill-out an IRS form every year, even if they have no income in the U.S.
NOTE: The number is also used as an identifier when performing tasks, such as requesting utilities and setting up bank accounts. Visit the Center for Global Engagement for application information before visiting the Social Security Administration (SSA) Office to apply for a number.
Visiting the Social Security Administration
You will need to bring the following documents to apply for a social security number:
- A completed Application for a Social Security Card form (SS-5)
- I-94 card (and two copies with legible entry stamps)
- I-20 form (and two copies with legible entry stamps) (for F-1 visa holders only)
- Proof of employment eligibility (for F-1 and J-1 visa holders only)
F-1 students may submit one of the following documents as their “proof of employment eligibility”:
- With on-campus employment: Letter from hiring department (also for J-1 students)
- Curricular Practical Training (C.P.T.): I-20 with C.P.T. endorsement on the third page
- Optional Practical Training (O.P.T.): U.S.C.I.S. Employment Authorization Document (E.A.D.) card
The United States has different sets of tax laws. It is important to comply with all federal, state, and local tax laws that apply to you. Federal tax law applies to taxes paid to the United States in Washington, D.C. State tax laws apply to taxes paid to the state in which you live. In some places, there are also local or city taxes.
Residency & Non-Residency for Tax Purposes
The U.S. Department of Treasury Internal Revenue Service Publication 519 explains the rules used to determine tax residency for those who are not U.S. citizens. Non-residents for tax purposes are taxed on U.S. source income. Residents for tax purposes are taxed on worldwide income.
In general, international students in F or J status for five years or less (since 2013 or later) and their dependents, file tax forms as non-residents. Research scholars or faculty in J-1 status for two years or less (since 2016 or later) also file as non-residents. International students who have been in F or J status for more than five years, research scholars, and faculty who have been in J-1 status for more than two years are generally considered residents for tax purposes.