What is a Social Security Number?

A Social Security number is intended to record your earnings in this country accurately. International students with F-1 status have permission to work on campus and are therefore eligible for Social Security numbers. If you need a Social Security number for any of the reasons listed below but do not qualify for one, you can apply to the U.S. government for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

Do I Need a Social Security Number?

Social security numbers are needed for the following:

  • Employment – You must have a Social Security number to work in the United States.
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Forms – All students and scholars with F-1 status who are non-resident aliens for tax purposes are required to fill out an Internal Revenue Service form every year, even if they have no U.S.-source income. A Social Security number or ITIN is required on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) forms. For additional information about these requirements, please consult ISSS.

Social security numbers are NOT needed for:

  • Class Registration
  • Banking – F and J visa holders do not need a Social Security number to open a bank account or for most other financial transactions. The bank may ask F and J visa holders to complete the Internal Revenue Service Form W-8BEN to prove that they are exempt from the requirement of providing a Social Security number.
  • Driver’s License – The state of Maine requires proof of legal presence in the United States to obtain a driver’s license. Individuals who do not qualify for a Social Security Number must supply an unexpired immigration document, such as an I-94, to help the Bureau of Motor Vehicles determine ineligibility. A list of accepted documents to prove legal presence can be found on the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles website.
  • Rental agreements

How to Apply for a Social Security Card

F-1 students given an on-campus position at UMFK must meet with Tammy Delisle, Student Employment Coordinator. During this meeting, she will provide forms and instruct you on submitting the necessary documents to the U.S. government.

Once you’ve met with the Student Employment Coordinator and have all the necessary instructions, you can complete the Social Security Number application online.

U.S. Tax Information

UMFK encourages all international students and scholars to file taxes in compliance with federal and state tax regulations. DSO Advisors are unable to give individual tax advice.

Foreign individuals — those who are neither U.S. citizens nor U.S. nationals — fall under two categories:

  1. Resident Aliens
  2. Nonresident Aliens

How you file taxes in the United States depends on under which category you fall. For tax purposes, you are considered a resident alien if you meet either the green card test or the substantial presence test for the calendar year (January 1st through December 31st). Otherwise, you fall under the nonresident alien category.

Resident aliens use the same tax forms (such as Form 1040) and filing statuses and are eligible for the same deductions (if a resident alien for the entire tax year) as U.S. citizens. Nonresident aliens file IRS Form 1040-NR (and Form 8843) and typically only pay U.S. tax on income from U.S. sources. Check out the IRS webpage on Alien Taxation – Certain Essential Concepts for more information.

Individuals needing to pay U.S. taxes but ineligible for a social security number should apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

If you need to file a nonresident return but feel overwhelmed by the process, you may wish to use a third-party service specializing in nonresident returns, such as Sprintax, to file your return.

More information for international taxpayers can be obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website.

Form 8843

If you’re an F-1 nonresident student and didn’t work, earn wages, or receive any U.S. source of income (scholarships, grants, stipends, etc.), you must still file Form 8843 with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) each year. All international nonresident students must file this form annually to avoid accumulating “substantial presence” and being taxed as a resident. You do not need to file this form if you fall under the resident alien category.

Common Tax Forms

Below is a list of common U.S. tax forms you may encounter. This list is not exhaustive. You may not use any of the forms below, or you may receive tax forms not mentioned below.

Form Name Form Description
Federal Form 1040-NR Form 1040-NR is the individual federal tax return for nonresident aliens.
Federal Form 8843 All nonresident aliens must file Form 8843 each year to avoid accumulating a “substantial presence” in the United States and being taxed as a resident.
Maine Form 1040ME Form 1040ME is the individual tax return for the state of Maine.
W-2 The W-2 is an income statement provided by an employer indicating your income and the taxes withheld for the year. Information from this form is used to file Federal and Maine tax returns.
1099-INT The 1099-INT indicates the interest income you’ve earned in the year. This usually comes from your bank and shows interest accrued by your savings or checking account(s). While nonresidents are not taxed on interest income, you may need to include this document with your tax return.
1042-S 1042-S documents are provided by organizations that provide you with scholarships. Scholarship money used for tuition, books, and fees is not taxable. Only scholarship funds used for room and board can be taxed.
1098-T 1098-T is a tuition statement and is provided to you by UMFK. This form is not needed for filing your tax return.
1095-A or 1095-B 1095-A and B are documents showing proof of health insurance in compliance with the Affordable Care Act. While these documents are good to keep for your records, you do not need them to file your tax return.