Social Security Numbers & Taxes

Social Security Numbers

If you are not providing any payment to the participant, he or she is not required to have a Social Security number. However, it is still recommended that participants apply for a number, as they may need it for opening a bank account, renting an apartment, or applying for a U.S. driver’s license.

To avoid delays in obtaining a Social Security number, please remind the participant to contact InterExchange Career Training USA immediately upon arrival in the U.S. to activate his or her SEVIS record—the participant will not be able to get a Social Security number without an active SEVIS record. We recommend waiting 5-10 days after SEVIS activation before applying for a Social Security Number, as it sometimes takes a few days for SEVIS information to be updated in the Social Security Administration’s database. To facilitate the application process, we recommend assisting the participant with locating a Social Security Administration Office near your office. Most Social Security offices are only open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am - 4:30 pm and are busiest between the hours of 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

When applying for a Social Security number, the participant must bring the following items:

  • His or her passport, including the J-1 Visa
  • The DS-2019 Form
  • The I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
  • The ‘Dear Social Security Officer’ letter, included in the acceptance package from InterExchange

If assisting the participant with his or her Social Security application, please use the following tips:

  • Use your company address as the mailing address, especially if the participant has not yet arranged permanent housing
  • For the question regarding CITIZENSHIP, check the box labeled “Legal Alien Allowed To Work”
  • The questions regarding mother and father’s Social Security Numbers can be left blank

Read about 8 Quick Ways You Can Help Participants Get Their Social Security Number to avoid any mistakes or delays.

The wait time to receive a card will be 4-6 weeks, but the participant may begin to intern/train and be paid before he or she has been issued a number, provided the participant provides you the receipt letter, which is proof that the application has been given to Social Security. Please see for more information.

If you or the participant have any questions, please call the Social Security Administration’s toll-free number: 1.800.772.1213. Or, visit their website at:

Tax Information

If you are offering a paid internship or training program, the participant will be required to pay taxes.

I-9 Form

When the participant arrives at your company, he or she must complete an I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form, which notifies the Federal Government that he or she is allowed to work in the United States. The participant will show you his or her passport, I-94 Arrival/Departure Record, J-1 Visa and DS-2019 Form when completing this form. The participant will complete Section 1, and you will complete Section 2. The participant should fill out Section 1 using your company address.

W-4 Form

The participant is also required to fill out a W-4 Employee Withholding Allowance Certificate as soon as he or she starts a paid internship/training program. Based on the information provide on the W-4 Form, you will need to calculate the amount of federal, state and local taxes to be withheld from the paycheck. InterExchange Career Training USA participants are exchange visitors in the “non-resident alien” tax category. Please consult a tax professional for the most recent tax regulations.

FICA and FUTA Withholdings

Under IRS Code Section 31.21. (B)(19), all non-resident aliens on J-1 visas are exempt from paying FICA (Social Security) and FUTA (federal unemployment taxes) taxes during their first two calendar years in the U.S. Since all of our participants are only able to intern/train for 18 months or fewer, all are exempt from these withholdings. Please consult a tax professional to see if the participant is also exempt from state unemployment taxes in your state.

How to Complete the W-4 Form

The participant should NOT follow the instructions printed on the form, as the instructions on the W-4 Form are for U.S. residents—not exchange visitors. Please follow the instructions below.

  • The Personal Allowances Worksheet does not need to be completed—this does not apply to exchange visitors
  • Home address: Indicate the participant’s permanent U.S. mailing address
  • Box 2: Enter the Social Security number if known
  • Box 3: Mark or check “Single”, even if the participant is married
  • Box 4: Leave blank
  • Box 5: Write “1”
  • Box 6: Write “NRA” for “Non-Resident Alien”
  • Box 7: Leave blank

Tax Refunds

As an exchange visitor on a J-1 Visa, the participant is considered a “non-resident alien” for tax purposes and is required to pay some taxes. Filling out the W-4 Form properly will ensure that he or she does not owe the U.S. government any money. Depending on how long the participant interns/trains with you and how much money is earned, he or she may be eligible for a refund of some of the taxes paid.

All program participants who are paid must file a U.S. tax return for the calendar year during which they worked with your company and follow the tax-filing deadline for that year. Even if the participant is no longer in the U.S., he or she still must file a U.S. tax return for the time during which they worked. It’s important to remind your intern or trainee of this tax filing requirement, especially if the participant’s program spans over more than a single year’s tax period.

W-2 Form

If the participant is still in the U.S. at tax time, please provide him or her with a W-2. If he or she will have already returned home by the time W-2s are issued, we recommend that you have the participant leave a self-addressed envelope prior to departing the U.S. so that you will be able to mail the W-2 at the appropriate time.

Note: Do not send W-2 forms to our New York office. We are not responsible for getting this information to the participant and cannot guarantee that he or she will receive it.

Filing Form 1040NR-EZ

If the participant will still be in the U.S. at tax time, you may wish to offer him or her assistance with filing a tax return. Upon receiving a W-2 Form, the participant will fill out a 1040NR-EZ (Non-Resident Aliens with No Dependents) Tax Form. This can be obtained online at

Once the form is completed, it should be mailed to the address listed in the Where to File section of the 1040NR-EZ

Please encourage your intern/trainee to visit the Tax Resources and Information section of the Participant Resource Center on our website at or to contact the IRS or a tax professional with specific questions as InterExchange Career Training USA is not certified or licensed to provide tax advice.

Next: Paperwork and Testing »

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
Exclusive partner of the Erasmus Student Network for J-1 Visa sponsorship of internships in the U.S.
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Generation Study Abroad
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation