Social Security & Taxes
- Can I get a Social Security Number?
You can only get a Social Security Number (SSN) if you are employed.
F-1/J-1 students are eligible if they have one of the following:
- On-campus job
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization from ISSS
- Academic Training (AT) authorization from ISSS
- Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorization from USCIS
- When can I apply for a SSN?
How soon an F-1 or J-1 student can apply for a Social Security Number is dependent on the type of employment. Remember, you must have a job in order to apply for a SSN.
- On-campus work: Up to 30 days before your employment start date
- CPT and AT: Up to 30 days before your employment start date
- OPT: As early as the start date on your EAD card (you must have the card in order to apply)
If you are a new international student this semester, you cannot apply for a SSN until you Check-In with ISSS and your SEVIS record is activated. ISSS will not process your SSN Letter Request until you have first checked-in.
ISSS will begin processing SSN letter requests for new students after the 10th day of classes.
- How do I apply for a SSN?
Obtain proof of work/work authorization
STEP 1: If you are a new student, your first step is to Check-In with ISSS. If you are a continuing student, skip this step and proceed to STEP 2.
STEP 2: Give your supervisor/hiring department the link to our On-Campus Employment Verification Letter. This letter template must be filled out by your hiring department and printed on departmental letterhead .
STEP 3: Submit a SSN Letter Request in the ISSS Portal.
- You must upload the Social Security Letter for On-Campus Work obtained from your hiring department (STEP 2) to your SSN Letter Request. The letter must be on letterhead and signed.
- Your request will not be processed untilyour employment has been entered into the university database (iPeople). Please check with your HR Employment Consultant, if you have further questions regarding this.
- NEW STUDENTS PLEASE NOTE: Requests received from new students (beginning your studies at ISU this semester) will not be processed until after the 10th day of classes. If you submitted your SSN Letter Request prior to the 10th day of classes, your processing clock will not begin until the 10th day.
- When we process your request, ISSS will create a letter verifying you are in active F-1/J-1 status and email you when the letter is ready.
- You will need BOTH the letter from your Hiring Department and the letter from ISSS in order to apply for your SSN.
STEP 1: Request Work Authorization
- F-1 off-campus work during your program: Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
- J-1 off-campus work during or after your program: Academic Training (AT)
- F-1 off-campus work after you have graduated: Optional Practical Training (OPT)
STEP 2: After you submit your request for CPT, AT, or OPT, you will receive a new I-20/DS-2019.
STEP 3: Students approved for CPT or AT are able to use their I-20/DS-2019 to apply for an SSN up to 30 days prior to the start of their off-campus job. Students who are applying for OPT can apply for their SSN at the same time they are applying for OPT by requesting an SSN on Form I-765. If you choose not to request your SSN this way, you will need to wait until you receive your EAD card from USCIS before applying for your SSN.
Go to the Social Security Office
Once you have proof of your work authoirzation, then you should go to the nearest Social Security Office to apply for your SSN.
Students applying based upon on-campus employment, should visit the local Bloomington-Normal Social Security Office:
328 Susan Drive, Suite 100
Normal, IL 61761
Map & Directions
- Monday - Friday – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Saturday & Sunday - CLOSED
- Federal Holidays - CLOSED
What to know before you visit
- Check-in at the kiosk when you arrive.
- You may need to wear a mask.
- You may need to wait outside so you should dress for the weather.
- You should expect long lines, especially on Mondays, during the first week of the month, and the day following a federal holiday.
What to bring
- Completed Application for a Social Security Card
UPDATE: The Application for a Social Security Card can now be completed online here! Click on the "Start" button to begin your application. Upon completion, make note of your “o22” reference number which you will give to receptionist at the Social Security Agency so they can find your submission.
- Proof of work/work authorization
- On-campus job = BOTH the Social Security Letter for On-Campus Work printed on departmental letterhead AND the letter from ISSS verifying your lawful status.
- CPT = I-20 showing CPT authorization on page 2
- AT = DS-2019 showing AT authorization on page 1
- OPT = EAD card (if you chose not to apply for an SSN using Form I-765)
- Original passport, visa, I-20/DS-2019, and I-94 Printout
NOTE: All of these documents need to be physically in your hands; you cannot show the document on your phone.
- Original birth certificate (ONLY if you have it with you in the US). The Social Security Office staff will ask you whether you have your birth certificate. If you have it with you, you should present it to the SSA staff. If your birth certificate is in your home country, you should tell the SSA staff member that your birth certificate is in your home country and you did not bring it with you to the US. They can instead use your passport as proof of your date of birth.
Remember to request a receipt for your SSN application. Your receipt will indicate the estimated processing time for your SSN card (usually 2-4 weeks).
Receive Your SSN
Your SSN card will be delivered through the mail to the address you listed on your Application for a Social Security Card.
The estimated processing time for your card will be listed on the receipt you received from the Social Security Office at the time that you applied. Usually the receipt will state either 2 weeks or 4 weeks.
If you applied for your SSN card at the Bloomington, IL Social Security Office and it did not arrive within the estimated time period listed on your receipt, you should contact the Social Security Office at 877-405-4640.
Update Human Resources
If you have an on-campus job and are nearing the deadline to provide your Social Security Card to Human Resources, please contact your HR representative and keep them informed about your appointment with the Social Security Agency so they know you are making progress towards receiving your card.
Once you have your SSN card, you should bring the original card to Human Resources in order to update your I-9 paperwork. If you have an on-campus job, please bring your card to Human Resources in the Nelson Smith Buildingand also email the Tax Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) has teamed up with Sprintax to assist international students and scholars in preparing their federal tax return.
You will receive an email from ISSS in mid-February providing you with a link to Sprintax to set up your account as well as your unique code to use on Sprintax. This unique code will cover the costs of the federal tax return and 8843 at no cost to you. If other students received the email, but you did not, please contact ISSS by raising International Student Help Ticket and include your name and UID.
Don't Use TurboTax or Other Resident Tax Software!
If you are a nonresident for federal tax purposes, you must file a nonresident tax return. Do not commit tax fraud by mistakenly filing a resident tax return. Sprintax helps you determine your federal tax status.
You don’t have to navigate complicated U.S. tax regulations if you use Sprintax. Simply answer a series of questions about the time you have spent in the U.S., the immigration status(es) you held, and any U.S. source payments you have received.
Online Tax Webinars
Do you have questions about the U.S. tax-filing process or want to know how to use Sprintax offers free tax webinars for all ISU nonresident students and scholars.
In these tax webinars, international students, scholars and professionals will be run through everything they need to know about nonresident tax for the 2023 tax seasob. Topics will include who must file, tax residency, FICA, State returns, implicatiobs of misfiling as well as how to use sprintax to prepare a complaint tax return. Below is the schedule for 2023/2024 Sprintax Webinars.
- Thursday, December 14th @12PM CST - Register here
- Thursday, January 25th @ 11AM CST - Register here
- Wednesday, February 7th @ 12PM CST - Register here
- Wednesday, February 28th @ 11AM CST - Register here
- Monday, March 11th @ 3PM CST - Register here
- Thursday, March 28th @ 2PM CST - Register here
- Wednesday, April 3rd @ 1PM CST - Register here
- Thursday, April 11th @ 12PM CST - Register here
- Monday, April 15th @ 10AM CST - Register here
Tax Overview for OPT/CPT
Topics covered in these webinars will include residency for tax purposes, tax liabilities when an OPT/CPT and pre-employement tax forms when on OPT/CPT. The Sprintax team will also provide an overview of Sprintax Forms which can be used to prepare your pre OPT/CPT employment tax documents.
Tax Videos and Blog
You also have access to the Sprintax YouTube account where there are a number of educational videos on nonresident taxes. These will provide further clarity on nonresident tax and how to use Sprintax.
Sprintax also offer a range of useful content on their blog to help you file your return.
- Who must file taxes?
Everyone who was physically present in the US on F or J status anytime between 1 January – 31 December 2023 is obligated to file taxes.
If you did not earn any income in 2023, you must file Form 8843 with the IRS (the Internal Revenue Service, or ‘IRS’, are the US tax authorities).
Meanwhile, if you earned more than $0 of taxable US source income, you will need to file a federal tax return with the IRS. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may also need to file a state tax return(s).
Tax Filing Deadline:
15 April 2024 is the last day for residents and nonresidents who earned US income to file Federal tax returns for the 2023 tax year.
- Who is considered a Resident or Nonresident for tax purposes?
Your tax status is different from your immigration status.
Individuals in the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa (like F-1 or J-1) may be considered residents for tax purposes, depending on how long they have been in the U.S.
If you are uncertain whether you are a Nonresident/Resident for tax purposes, login to Sprintax. You will be asked a series of questions about the time you have spent in the US over recent years. Sprintax will then determine your tax status.
F-1 and J-1 Students
- F and J students are generally considered nonresidents for tax purposes for the first 5 tax years.
- Nonresidents for tax purposes must file a nonresident tax return.
- Do not commit fraud and file using TurboTax or a similar software designed for resident tax returns.
- ISSS has teamed up with Sprintax to offer you free access to filing your nonresident federal tax return.
- If your not sure whether you are a resident or nonresident for tax purposes, don't worry. Sprintax will help you figure that out.
J-1 Scholars (Researchers and Professors)
- J scholars and their dependents are generally considered nonresidents for tax purposes for 2 out of every 6 tax years.
- What documents will I need for my tax filing?
The first step to filing your nonresident tax return is to gather the documents you may need for Sprintax.
Visa/Immigration information, including form I-20 (F status) or form DS-2019 (J status)
Social Security or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (if you have one)
This is not needed if you had no income and the 8843 is the only form you have to file.
This form reports your wage earnings if you worked. If you had more than one employer you should get a W-2 from each employer. It is issued by the end of January for the previous year. Make sure all employers from last year have an up-to-date address for you.
This form is used to report:
If you received this type of income, the 1042-S will be mailed to you by 15 March by the payer.
Note:Only Nonresident Aliens receive this form. If your tax statuschanges toa Resident Alien you will not get a 1042-S. Login to Sprintax to check your tax status if you're not sure.
USentry and exit dates for current and past visits to the US
In addition to passport stamps, you can review or print your US travel historyhere
This form reports miscellaneous income. Can be interest on bank accounts, stocks, bonds, dividends, earning through freelance employment
Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement, can be used only by tax residents to claim certain tax credits. Generally, nonresidents for tax purposes are not eligible for the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit or the American Opportunity Tax Credit and will not use the Form 1098-T. The use of this form can result in the claiming of credits for which tax nonresidents are ineligible. In addition, the tax return form on which these credits are claimed may be the incorrect form to file for your tax residency status. Refunds received from the IRS from credits for which you are ineligible may need to be paid back to the IRS. Return of erroneous refunds are paid back based on the method of receipt.
If you received income from Illinois State University and have questions regarding a specific tax document associated with that income, please contact ISU’s International Tax Specialist at email@example.com or 309-438-7677 or click here for more information.
- How do I file my taxes?
We have teamed up with Sprintax to provide you with an easy-to-use tax preparation software designed for nonresident students and scholars in the US. We (and all other university staff) are not qualified or allowed to provide individual tax advice.
After you login to Sprintax, you will be asked a series of questions about the time you have spent in the US over recent years. Sprintax will then determine your tax status. If it determines that you are a "nonresident alien" (NRA) for federal tax purposes, you can continue to use the software to respond to a series of guided questions. Sprintax will then complete and generate the tax forms you need to send to the tax authorities.
However, if Sprintax determines that you are a resident alien for federal tax purposes, you won't be able to continue using the software.
Create a Sprintax Account
You will receive an email from ISSS providing you with a link to Sprintax to set up your account as well as your unique code to use on Sprintax. This unique code will cover the costs of the federal tax return and 8843 at no cost to you.
Open your new Sprintax account by creating a UserID and password or if you have an existing account on Sprintax you can login using your existing credentials.
1) Follow the Sprintax instructions
If you did not earn any US Income: Sprintax will generate a completed Form 8843 for you and each of your dependents (if you have any).
If you did earn US Income: Sprintax will generate your "tax return documents", including either a 1040NR-EZ or a longer form 1040NR, depending on your circumstances.
2) (With U.S. income only) If required, complete your state tax return
After you finish your federal return, Sprintax will inform you if you need to complete a state tax return. If so, you will have the option to use Sprintax for an additonal fee. However, it is your choice to use them or to do the state tax return on your own.
3) Mail Your Completed Tax Forms by the Deadline
Remember to read the instructions that Sprintax provides for filing/mailing your returns.
You will be required to download, print and sign your federal tax return and mail it to the IRS. If you have a state filing requirement, you must also mail this to the tax authorities.
Finally, if you only need to file Form 8843, this will also need to be mailed to the IRS.
Mail by the deadline* of April 15, 2024. If you have dependents, each one must mail their own 8843 in a separate envelope.
*Your envelope must be date-stampd by the post office or receipted by a courier service such as FedEx by the deadline.
Federal vs. State Taxes
Sprintax will assist you with filing your federal tax return for free and will also offer to file your state tax return for a fee. If you choose not to pay for Sprintax to file your state tax return, then you will need to file the return on your own.
If you resided in the state of Illinois during the tax year, then you will need to file an Illinois state tax return. Be sure to visit theIllinois Department of Revenue(IDOR)website for further details. You can alsocontact the IDOR with questions about your Illinois state tax return.
If you resided in states other than Illinois during the same tax year, you may need to file a return with the other states as well. Be sure to visit the other state tax websitesfor more information.
If you are required to file both a federal and state tax return, you must complete your federal form before you complete your state form. The deadline to submit both the federal and state tax return is April 15, 2024.
Unable to File Tax Return by the Deadline
The deadline to file federal and Illinois individual tax returns for tax year 2023 is April 15, 2024. If you are unable to file your tax returns by the deadline, you may be able to file Form 4868 to request an automatic extension of time to file until October 16, 2024. You will not be notified if the extension request is approved, it is automatic. You must still make any 2023 estimated tax payment by the tax filing deadline in April or you will be assessed penalties and interest on any payment owed. Be sure to sign and date the forms and keep copies for your records. If you failed to file a tax return in a prior year, you should file as soon as possible.
- What if I need help with my tax filing?
Need Sprintax Support?
If you need help while using Sprintax, you can contact their support team using the options below.
- Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
- 24/7 Live Chat Help
- Refer to their FAQs
- Attend afree tax webinar
- Sprintax Educational Tax Videos and Blog:
DISCLAIMER: Illinois State University and its employees do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. Any questions or concerns should be directed to Sprintax, a certified tax preparer or a local IRS field office.
Other Support Options
The Bloomington-Normal Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Foundation also offers tax return preparation and filing services. Their Heartland location is best equipped for nonresident filing. Please visit their website to review eligibility.
How do I fix my Tax Returns
If an incorrect tax return was filed, an individual should file an amended tax return, a Form 1040-X. In addition to the Form 1040-X, the individual will also need to file the correct form that should have originally been filed. For example, if a tax nonresident erroneously filed a Form 1040 (filed by tax residents), they would then need to file an amended Form 1040-X to correct the Form 1040. The Form 1040-NR (filed by tax nonresidents) would then need to be completed as the form that should have originally been filed. Filing incorrect forms and receiving refunds for which you are not eligible, if not corrected, can jeopardize future visa applications with the US.
The informational tax email sent from ISSS includes various resources that can be used to assist in the filing of annual tax returns. This includes Sprintax Tax Prep which offers software services that support nonresident filings including amended returns. Individuals may also choose to use a reputable tax preparer to assist in corrective filings and tax forms and instructions are also available online. The Bloomington-Normal Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (Heartland location) also supports nonresident filing.
Tax Treaty Benefits
Some nonresident students receiving taxable scholarships and employment income may be eligible for tax treaty benefits. Tax treaty benefits vary by country and can exempt individuals from having to pay federal tax and/or state tax withholding on taxable scholarship income and employment income.
To determine your eligibility, you will need to complete a profile in Sprintax TDS. Illinois State University uses Sprintax TDS to gather information and exchange tax forms with international individuals receiving income from the University. If you do not already have a Sprintax TDS profile, please contact email@example.com to set one up. Once the profile is completed, an analysis will be done to determine eligibility for tax treaty benefits.
Please note, a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is required to use treaty benefits. Nonresidents may apply for an ITIN if they do not qualify for a SSN. Please refer to the ITIN section below for more information. Sprintax TDS will prepare the ITIN application Form W-7 if an individual is eligible for a treaty benefit and does not yet have an ITIN.
Once your Sprintax TDS profile is complete, including your SSN or ITIN, the Form W-8BEN (for income Code 16, Scholarship and Fellowship Grants) will generate with details of your treaty benefit for taxable scholarships, if applicable. A Form 8233 and 8233 Statement will generate if a treaty benefit for employment income is applicable, please note, this form must be renewed on an annual basis. Forms must be printed, signed (no electronic signatures will be accepted) and submitted via Document exchange in your TDS profile or dropped off at the Payroll Office at 100 S. Fell Ave., Floor 2, Suite E in Normal.
Please note, your Sprintax TDS profile is separate from your Sprintax Tax Prep profile which is used to complete your annual tax filings.
Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any additional questions.
ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number)
Anyone who needs to file a US tax return must have either an SSN or ITIN. If you are not employed but are receiving taxable US source income in the form of a scholarship, fellowship or grant, you must apply for an ITIN.
- Can I get an ITIN?
Students who are eligible for an ITIN (based upon taxable income from the University) should have received notification from the ISU Tax Specialist.
Please reach out to email@example.com with any additional questions.
- When can I apply for an ITIN?
If you are not eligible for a SSN, an ITIN may only be applied for when filing your year-end tax return.
The only exception to this rule is if you are eligible for a tax treaty benefit for taxable scholarships. Please refer to the Tax Treaty Benefits section above for more information. If you are eligible for a tax treaty benefit, then an ITIN may be applied for during the course of the year without an accompanying tax return.
- How do I apply for an ITIN?
ITIN applications can be submitted in one of three ways*:
- Mail it with your tax return and include your original passport (not recommended)
- Mail it with your tax return and include copies of your passport and certification from a TAC center (closest is in Peoria)
- Mail it with your tax return and include copies of your passport and certification from a Certified Acceptance Agent (closest is in Bloomington)
*If you are eligible for a tax treaty benefit for taxable scholarships , you may apply for your ITIN during the course of the year and without an attached tax return. The methods of mailing your application with original documents (not recommended) or certifying copies at a TAC center or with a Certified Acceptance Agent will remain the same.