International Affairs: Social Security and Taxes
A Social Security Number (SSN) is a nine-digit number printed on a small card that is issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents. It is meant to track income for tax purposes, but it has become commonly used as a national identification number used to check credit histories and identities. Because of its original intention, an SSN can legally only be issued to you if you have a valid job offer and not simply for identification purposes. The Social Security Administration (SSA) issues SSNs only to F-1 students who have an employment offer; F-2 dependents are not eligible for SSNs since they are not permitted to work.
As soon as you have an on-campus or Co-op job, visit International Affairs for a Social Security Letter and instructions on how to apply. The process is free, and you will need to present evidence of applying for your SSN (receipt letter) to SAIC Student Employment by the end of the third business day after your first day of work. Plan on bringing the letter from International Affairs (completed by your supervisor and signed by an International Student Advisor), your current I-20, your passport, and your I-94 card to the SSA office. The SSA office closest to SAIC is on West Jackson Boulevard.
It is very important to keep your SSN confidential and safe at all times. Avoid carrying the card in your wallet to help avoid identity theft.
If you secure an on-campus job you can use this Social Security Number Application Process [PDF] for instructions on how to apply for a Social Security number.
Students with Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training authorization should not use the on-campus Social Security form. Instead, students must obtain the Social Security recommendation letter directly from their employer. If needed, employers may use this Sample Social Security Letter for Off-Campus Employment [PDF] as reference.
All F and J students who were present in the United States during 2015 are required to submit a tax return to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and potentially Illinois State. Even if you did not earn money in the U.S. during 2015 you are still required to submit a minimum of one tax form.
The IRS and Illinois deadline to submit 2015 tax forms is April 15, 2016.
International Affairs has created a document which outlines your basic tax filing responsibilities and provides you with valuable resources to meet them. To access this document, please refer to the email sent you from International Affairs on 02/15/2016 with the subject heading: Maintain your immigration status—file your 2015 taxes.
To make fulfilling your tax obligations easier, International Affairs offers SAIC students free access to Sprintax Non-Resident Tax Preparation, an online tool which provides federal tax preparation software along with an extensive and easily searchable online tax library. Current SAIC international students and OPT students are eligible to create a WINDSTAR account using an active @saic.edu email address.
Please note that International Affairs provides these tax resources as a service to you. However, International Affairs staff are not tax experts and therefore cannot, by law, answer specific tax questions or help you prepare your tax forms. It is your responsibility to meet your US tax obligations and to do so accurately.