Social Security Numbers & Taxes


Social Security Numbers

All paid interns and trainees are required to apply for a Social Security Number. If you are not providing any payment to the participant, he or she is not required to have a Social Security number, but we still recommend that participants apply for one, as they may need it for opening a bank account, renting an apartment, or applying for a U.S. driver’s license.

The wait time to receive a card will be 4-6 weeks, but participants may begin to intern/train and be paid before they have been issued a number, provided they provide you the receipt letter, which is proof that the application has been given to Social Security. Please see https://www.ssa.gov/employer/hiring.htm for more information.

To apply for a Social Security number, participants must follow the below steps:
  • Inform InterExchange of their arrival in the U.S.: To avoid delays in obtaining a Social Security number, please remind participants to contact InterExchange Career Training USA immediately upon arrival in the U.S. to activate their SEVIS record—participants will not be able to get a Social Security number without an active SEVIS record.

  • Wait 5-10 days: 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.

  • Visit a local Social Security Office to apply in person: To facilitate the application process, we recommend assisting participants 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, participants must bring the following items:
      • Passport, including the J-1 Visa
      • DS-2019 Form
      • Printout of I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
      • ‘Dear Social Security Officer’ letter, included in the acceptance package from InterExchange
  • Complete the Social Security application: If assisting participants with their applications, please use the following tips:

    • Use your company address as the mailing address, especially if participants have 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
  • Ask for participants’ receipt of application: Instruct participants to keep the application receipt provided to them by the Social Security office. They should make a copy for their own records and provide you with the original. This allows participants to start training and be paid before their SSN is issued.

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

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

Pay & Tax withholdings

If you are offering a paid internship or training program, participants should typically be paid on the same schedule as your full-time employees. They must also be paid as regular employees and not as independent contractors (i.e. do not use IRS form 1099-misc).

All paid interns and trainees are required to pay income tax, but they’re exempt from certain other taxes. Please review the table below:

You Do Pay:You Do Not Pay:
Federal Income TaxMedicare Tax (FICA)
Local or City IncomeSocial Security Tax (S.S.)
State Income TaxFederal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)

As you can see, J-1 program participants do not pay Social Security, FICA, or 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 your participants are also exempt from state unemployment taxes in your state.

If FICA/FUTA has been withheld from your participants’ pay by mistake, please be sure to adjust the withholding amount for all future pay periods and issue a refund.

Onboarding Forms

I-9 Form

When participants arrive at your company, they must complete an I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form, which notifies the Federal Government that they are allowed to work in the United States. Participants will show you their:

  • Passport with J-1 Visa
  • I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
  • DS-2019 Form

Participants will complete Section 1, using your company address, and you will complete Section 2.

If your company uses E-Verify, you’ll need to wait to create a case for your J-1 participants until after they have received their Social Security Numbers. Here is guidance on the E-Verify website:

Employees must have a Social Security number (SSN) to be verified using E-Verify. If an employee has applied for but has not yet received his or her Social Security number (i.e., if he or she is a newly arrived immigrant), make a note on the employee’s Form I-9 and set it aside. The employee should be allowed to continue to work. As soon as the Social Security number is available, the employer can create a case in E-Verify using the employee’s Social Security number.

W-4 Form

Participants are also required to fill out a W-4 Employee Withholding Allowance Certificate as soon as they start a paid internship/training program. Based on the information provided on the W-4 Form, you will need to calculate the amount of federal, state and local taxes to be withheld from the paycheck. Remember, J-1 participants are exempt from FICA/FUTA taxes and these should not be withheld from their paychecks.

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.

When completing the W-4 form, participants 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. You can also check-out the special instructions for non-resident aliens issued by the IRS online.

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.

As a non-resident, please have the participants follow the instructions below. You can also check-out the special instructions for nonresident aliens issued by the IRS online.

  • Do not complete the Personal Allowances Worksheet; this does not apply to exchange visitors.

  • Step 1(a): Indicate your legal name and permanent U.S. mailing address.

  • Step 1(b): Enter your Social Security number if you already have it. If you do not have your number yet, inform human resources at your host company that you applied for a number and provide a copy of your receipt.

  • Step 1(c): Mark or check “Single or Married filing separately,” even if you are married.

  • Steps 2 & 3: Leave blank.

  • Step 4: Write “nonresident alien” or “NRA” in the space below Step 4(c).

  • Step 5: Sign and date your for

If your participants have not yet received their Social Security Number, follow these instructions provided by the IRS:

Remember to instruct participants to tell you the number and the exact name printed on the card, when they receive it.

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.

Filing Taxes

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

As J-1 exchange visitors, participants are considered “non-resident aliens” for tax purposes. Filing taxes as a non-resident alien differs from filing as a U.S. citizen or resident.

You can find tips below on assisting your participants with their taxes. Please also encourage your participants to visit the Tax Information page of their Participant Handbook. If they have specific questions, they should contact the IRS or a tax professional as InterExchange Career Training USA is not certified or licensed to provide tax advice.

W2 Form

If participants are still in the U.S. at tax time, please provide them with a W-2. If they will have already returned home by the time W-2s are issued, we recommend that you have them 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, or ensure that they continue to have access to an electronic W-2.

NOTE: Do not send W-2 forms to our New York office. We are not responsible for getting this information to participants and cannot guarantee that they will receive it.

Filing Form 1040NR-EZ

If participants will still be in the U.S. at tax time, you may wish to offer them assistance with filing a tax return. Upon receiving the W-2 Form, participants will need to fill out a 1040NR-EZ (Non-Resident Aliens with No Dependents) tax form.

NOTE: There are limited e-file options for non-resident aliens. J-1 participants must complete a paper copy of the form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ and mail it to the proper IRS branch. They may not use e-file options like TurboTax which are meant for U.S. residents only.

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

Further Resources:

Please encourage your intern/trainee to visit the Tax Resources and Information section of the Participant Resource Center on our website at www.InterExchange.org/ct-tax-info 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