Social Security Number / Taxes / ITIN

Who Needs a Social Security Number?

A social security number (SSN) is required for everyone who works in the Unites States, including international students. Social security numbers are issued by the Social Security Administration, a United States government agency.

If you previously had a SSN, but do not have the card or do not remember the number, you can apply for a duplicate card if you meet the eligibility requirements.

A social security number is not a work permit. You must have work authorization before beginning any employment.

Eligibility

International students only become eligible for a SSN once they have been approved for some form of work authorization (e.g., on-campus job, CPT, OPT).

Timeline for SSN Applications

The Social Security Administration is required to verify legal presence in the United States before issuing an SSN. F-1 and J-1 students must be registered full time at CCA.

Students should wait at least two weeks after initial entry into the United States before submitting an application to the Social Security Administration.

You must also have an employment start date that is within 30 days of the day you apply for the SSN. The Social Security Administration may reject or delay your application if you apply too early.

Once you have submitted your application, it generally takes several weeks for you to receive your card.

Obtaining a Social Security Number

If You Have On-Campus Employment

Step 1: Obtain work authorization. You are considered eligible to apply for a SSN once you have been offered a job on-campus.

Step 2: Request the SSN Letter Template from ISAP. Please email the ISAP Office to request a copy of the SSN letter template.

Step 3: Have your supervisor complete the SSN letter template.

Step 4: Make an appointment with an ISAP advisor to get a signature on the SSN letter template.

Step 5: Go to the Social Security Administration office and submit your application. Our social security card handout has information on where to apply for an SSN and what documents to take with you.

If You Have CPT or OPT Authorization:

Step 1: Obtain work authorization. You are considered eligible to apply for an SSN under the following circumstances:

  • CPT: Once ISAP has given you a new I-20 with CPT authorization on the second page.
  • OPT: Once you have received your EAD card from USCIS.

Step 2: Go to the Social Security Administration office and submit your application. Our social security card handout has information on where to apply for an SSN and what documents to take with you.

Filing tax forms is required by law and is part of your responsibilities as an international student at CCA.

The purpose of this section is to give you general information about your responsibilities related to taxes. CCA and the ISAP staff are not tax professionals and can provide neither individual tax advising nor filing assistance.

Who must file tax forms?

All students! Every international student who was present in the US for at least one day in 2017 must file at least one tax form. Please see below for more information.

Where can I learn more about taxes?

The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) has information dedicated to tax information for foreign students and scholars.  You can find more information on the IRS Website.

When do I need to file tax forms?

Tax statements will be sent to you by your bank, employers (including CCA), etc., after January 1, 2018. The deadline to file your tax return is Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

What tax forms do I need to file?

If you did not earn any income in 2017:

  • File Form 8843 (F-1 and J-1 students are categories of exempt individuals)

If you earned income in 2017, you may also need to file a federal or state tax return, or both:

  • File Form 8843 (F-1 and J-1 students are categories of exempt individuals)
  • For federal tax returns, in most cases, if you have under a certain amount in earned income (e.g., from wages and taxable scholarships) and are considered a nonresident for tax purposes, you may not be required to file a tax return.

    However, you may still want to file a tax return to be refunded taxes that were withheld from your paycheck.

    The rules about who must file are complicated, so please consult one of the tax resources listed below if you're unsure whether to file.

  • If you do file a federal tax return, you will use Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ, if you are considered a nonresident for tax purposes. Most international students are considered nonresidents for tax purposes.

    If you are unsure if you would be considered a resident or nonresident for tax purposes, please look at the Substantial Presence Test or consult one of the tax resources listed below.

  • If you are considered a resident for tax purposes, you would use Form 1040 or 1040EZ to file taxes.
  • Based on your level of income, you may also have to file a California state tax return using Form 540NR.

    Visit the Do I Need to File? page of the State Franchise Tax Board’s website. (Scroll to the bottom of the page, click "continue," then answer each question to determine if you are required to file.)

Taxes can be very complicated. If you are unsure if you need to, or should, file a tax return, if you are considered a nonresident or resident, or have any other questions about your personal tax situation, please consult one of the resources below.

How do I file my tax forms?

You can either file your tax forms yourself, or you can use a tax preparation company. Many people in the United States use tax-preparation software or pay a tax-preparation company to do their taxes.

To file taxes yourself, download the forms:

  • Form 8843 (even with no income earned, this form is required)
  • Form W-7 (complete this form to request a taxpayer identification number -- if you currently do not have, and are not eligible for, a SSN)
  • Form 1040NR (file a federal tax return if you earned above the minimum income)
  • Form 1040NR-EZ (this is a simplified version of the federal form)
  • Form 540NR (file a California state tax return if you exceeded a specified income)

Online Tax-Preparation Resources

Sprintax is online tax software specifically designed for international students. Complete the requested information, and their software will identify all necessary forms to file. Please email the ISAP office from your CCA email address to receive the student discount code.

Here are their estimated fees for specific forms and services.

  • Form 8843: $15.95
  • Form W-7 (ITIN preparation): $15.95
  • Federal tax return: $35.95
  • State tax return: $25.95

Gary R. Engler & Company is an accounting and tax-preparation company that also specializes in helping international students. Visit the website for more information.

Glacier Tax Prep is an online tax software specifically for international students. They can help with federal tax returns.

In-Person Tax-Preparation Resources

H&R Block is a tax preparation company with offices all over the country, including in the Bay Area. If you go to H&R Block, be sure to let them know you if you are considered a nonresident for tax purposes, and ask if they have a specialist in nonresident taxes. 

IRS VITA Sites The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) has sites where volunteers can help you prepare your tax returns.

Please visit this webpage for more information and to find a site near you. As mentioned above, if you are considered a nonresident for tax purposes, be sure to ask if they have a specialist in nonresident taxes.

Other tax companies and software are available. If you find a tax service you want to use and are a nonresident for tax purposes, be sure to ask if they have a specialist in nonresident taxes.

If it is an online tax-preparation software or service, be sure it will work for nonresident taxes. Some tax professionals are unfamiliar with nonresident taxes, and some software programs are only set up to do resident taxes.

What is an ITIN?

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax-processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Students who receive fellowship, scholarship, or stipend funding during the tax year, but who are not eligible for a social security number (SSN), will need to apply for an ITIN.

Anyone who has a US tax-filing or reporting requirement, but who is not eligible for a social security number (SSN) may alternatively apply for an ITIN, regardless of immigration status.

When should I apply for an ITIN?

As soon as possible! Once you receive an offer of a stipend or a monetary prize award, you should submit your ITIN application.

How do I apply?

The ISAP Office will assist you with your ITIN application. Review the ITIN application process for detailed information.

How do I maintain my ITIN?

Check the IRS Fact Sheet to see if your ITIN will expire. If it will expire at the end of 2017, we urge you to renew it now. This will help avoid delays.