Tax Payer Identification Numbers (ITIN)
(For Tax Year 2013)  

All F-1 and J-1 visa holders, and their dependents are required to file tax forms each year, whether or not they earned any income! When completing the tax forms, you are required to indicate your U.S. social security number. However, many foreign nationals are not eligible for Social Security Numbers, since the issuance of Social Security Numbers is tied to eligibility for employment authorization.

So, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has created the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to be used by the limited number of non-U.S. citizen individuals who are not eligible for a Social Security Number, but who have tax responsibilities. An ITIN is a nine-digit number that always begins with a 9 and has a 7 or 8 for the fourth digit; example: 9xx-7x-xxxx

The ITIN is for tax purposes only. It cannot be issued for other purposes, such as applying for a driver's license or state ID card. In fact, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles does not accept an ITIN as a valid identity document.

The applicant must have a valid tax purpose for obtaining an ITIN, otherwise, the IRS cannot accept your application. Examples include:

  • An individual not eligible for a social security number but required to file a tax return to claim a refund of tax under the provisions of a U.S. tax treaty
  • An individual not eligible for a social security number but who is the dependent child or spouse of a non-resident visa holder from Canada, Mexico, India or Republic of Korea (these are the only countries that permit non-residents for tax purposes to claim spouses or children as dependents on their tax returns, based on the terms of the tax treaty with the United States.)
  • An individual not eligible for a social security number who is a dependent or spouse of an individual who is a resident for tax purposes (once an F-1 or J-1 student has been in that non-immigrant status for more than five years, that student becomes a resident for tax purposes and can claim their spouse and/or children as dependents on their U.S. tax return).
  • An individual not eligible for a social security number but who has opened an account with a financial institution that generates income subject to either reporting or withholding
  • An F-1 or J-1 student receiving a scholarship or fellowship grant who shows written proof that his or her application for a social security number was rejected by the Social Security Administration

To apply for an ITIN, obtain form W-7 at this link:

For individuals seeking an ITIN in order to file an income tax return, the W-7 must be filed along with the income tax return.

For individuals seeking an ITIN in order to meet reporting or withholding requirements of a financial institution, or who are receiving a scholarship or fellowship, and are covered by a tax treaty, the W-7 form must be brought to the Binghamton office of the Internal Revenue Service in the Federal Building in downtown Binghamton (15, Henry Street), along with appropriate proof of identity, a copy of the letter or official notification of your scholarship award, a letter from the ISSS stating that you are receiving income from scholarships, fellowships or grants that is subject to IRS federal tax withholding (if you are not claiming tax treaty benefits) and a letter from the ISSS stating your visa category and that you are not currently employed in the U.S. It takes four to six weeks to receive an ITIN.

International Student and Scholar Services staff are neither qualified nor permitted to give individual tax advice. Tax assistance is available at:

Last Updated: 8/28/14