Social Security Numbers and Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers

The local Syracuse Social Security Administration Office is currently CLOSED to walk-ins.  All applications must be submitted by mail through the Center for International Services.

U.S. federal law requires all individuals employed in the U.S. to have a Social Security Number (SSN). SSNs are issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and are used to track income and tax wages.  They are only issued for the purpose of tracking income from employment. The Social Security Administration will not issue an SSN for the purpose of opening a bank account or obtaining a driver's license, utilities or a credit card.

An SSN is not required to begin employment and can only be obtained if you are employed or authorized to be employed.

NOTE: Those students who receive taxable scholarships (this does not include reductions in your tuition only), grants or stipends from U.S. sources, but are not employed in the U.S. (e.g. sponsored students and student athletes), must apply for the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

F-1 and J-1 students Employed On Campus

To be eligible to apply for a Social Security Number, F-1 and J-1 students must be employed or have a promise of employment from a department on-campus.  In addition, your immigration record must have been registered by the Center for International Services and that registration must have been downloaded in federal government databases.  It may take 10 days for the Social Security Administration to be able to view your record from the time the University sends in your registration information (usually after the last day to add a class to your schedule).

The local Syracuse Social Security Administration Office is currently (since March 2020) closed to walk-ins.  The following procedure will be followed while their office remains closed.

  1. The Payroll office will notify the Student Employment Office that an international student has been hired, put on the Payroll and does not have a Social Security Number.
  2. The Student Employment Office will prepare an Employer Verification Form (EVF) and send it to the Center for International Services.
  3. The Center for International Services will contact the student with instructions to complete an Application for a Social Security Card and to come to the office with the passport, I-20/DS-2019 and I-94 print out.
  4. The Center for International Services will mail a copy of the application to the Social Security Office and give the student the original documents required for the application.
  5. The Social Security Office will call the student to schedule an appointment to go to the Social Security Administration Office with the original application materials.
  6. The student will take the following documents to their appointment at the Social Security Administration Office:
    • Completed Application for a Social Security Card
    • Completed Employer Verification Form
    • Your original, valid passport with entry stamp indicating your status and authorized period of stay
    • Printout of your electronic I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
    • Your most recent Form I-20 (F-1) or Form DS-2019 (J-1)
    • The Social Security Administration Office is located at:
      • Federal Building
        100 S. Clinton Street
        Syracuse, NY
      • If you are not in Syracuse, please check for your nearest local office with the Social Security Administration
  1. Request a RECEIPT letter for your application.
  2. When you receive your SSN card in the mail (in approximately 7-10 days), email nratax@syr.edu and tell them you received your SSN.
  3. You should receive an email instructing you to complete the Foreign National Information System Form (FNIS).
    1. If you do not receive such an email, send a request to nratax@syr.edu with your SUID.
    2. The data collected allows SU to determine your tax withholding status.
    3. Any questions you may have regarding the Foreign National Information System Form should be directed to nratax@syr.edu .

Useful Link - SSA: International Students and Social Security Numbers

An Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) is a number assigned to individuals by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  The IRS is the United States agency responsible for tracking income and collecting taxes.

The ITIN is used as a way to identify individuals who have to file a tax return, but are not eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN) because they are not employed.

If you are an F-1/J-1 student who does NOT have a Social Security Number (SSN) and who is NOT working, but will be receiving income from a US source (scholarship, fellowship, grant, stipend), then you are eligible for an ITIN.

If you have an F-2/J-2 dependent and are from a country that allows dependents to be claimed on your income tax return, then they are also eligible for an ITIN.

You can apply for your ITIN shortly after you arrive in the US, once your immigration record has been activated in the SEVIS system (i.e. after you have registered full-time at SU)

OR

You can wait and file your ITIN application when you file your tax return.  Dependents (F-2/J-2) must apply for an ITIN when the primary (F-1/J-1) files their tax return.

NOTE: J-1 sponsored students (Fulbright, IIE, LASPAU, etc.) should check with their program sponsor about how and when they should apply for an ITIN

To apply for an ITIN because you receive a scholarship, fellowship, grant, stipend:

  1. Complete IRS Form W-7 (Application for ITIN)
    • click here for detailed instructions on how to complete the form
  2. Obtain a Certification Letter from the Center for International Services
    • You may obtain a Certification Letter during walk-in hours (M-F, 11-3) or call 315-443-2457 to schedule an appointment with a center advisor
    • Bring the following with you to the Center for International Services:
      • Completed Form W-7
      • Passport and visa
      • I-20/DS-2019
      • Printout of electronic I-94
      • Award letter for your scholarship, fellowship, grant or stipend

NOTE: You may apply for an ITIN without obtaining a Certification Letter from the Center for International Services, however that requires that you mail your original passport and other supporting documentation to the IRS, and we strongly recommend against mailing your passport. 

  1. The Center for International Services will mail your ITIN application to the IRS
  2. You should receive your ITIN within 6-8 weeks
    • If, after waiting 6-8 weeks, you have still not received your ITIN, you can call the IRS to find out the status of your application.
      • Call 1-800-829-1040 if you are in the United States
      • Call 267-941-1000 (not a toll-free number) if you are outside of the United States
  1. Complete the Foreign National Information System Form
    • This form allows Payroll to know how to properly deduct taxes from your payments
    • To obtain access to the form, email nratax@syr.edu with your SUID number
    • Any questions about this form should be directed to nratax@syr.edu

If you are filing your ITIN application with your tax return:

  1. Complete your federal tax return
    1. The Center for International Services offers SU international students and scholars free access to specialized tax software.  For more information, visit the Tax section of our website.
  2. Complete IRS Form W-7 (Application for ITIN);
    • click here for detailed instructions on how to complete the form
    • If you utilize the SPRINTAX software, it will automatically fill in Form W-7 for you
  3. Make an appointment at the Taxpayer Assistance Center (in downtown Syracuse) to have your immigration documents authenticated so that you do not have to mail your original passport to the IRS. Take the following with you to your appointment at the Taxpayer Assistance Center
      • Completed Form W-7
      • Passport and visa
      • I-20/DS-2019
      • Printout of electronic I-94
      • Award letter for your fellowship, scholarship, or grant

NOTE: You may apply for an ITIN without having your documents authenticated by the Internal Revenue Service, however, that requires that you mail your original passport and other supporting documentation to the IRS, and we strongly recommend against mailing your passport. 

  1. Assemble your application in the following order:
      • Certification Letter
      • Completed Form W-7
      • Copies of passport and visa
      • Copy of I-20/DS-2019
      • Your completed US tax return
  1. Make a copy of your application to keep for your own records
  2. Mail your application to:

Internal Revenue Service
Austin Service Center
ITIN Operation
P.O. Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342

  1. The IRS will process your ITIN application and then send it to the tax return processing unit
  2. You should receive your ITIN within 6-8 weeks
    • If, after waiting 6-8 weeks, you have still not received your ITIN, you can call the IRS to find out the status of your application.
      • Call 1-800-829-1040 if you are in the U.S.
      • Call 267-941-1000 (not a toll-free number) if you are outside of the U.S.
  1. Login and complete Foreign National Information System Form
    • This form allows Payroll to know how to properly deduct taxes from your payments
    • To obtain access to the form, email nratax@syr.edu with your SUID number
    • Any questions about this form should be directed to nratax@syr.edu