Every person in the United States who earns money (from a job, from a scholarship, etc.) must pay income tax. This tax is usually deducted from individual's paychecks throughout the year. At the end of every tax year, employers send out summaries of how much money employees earned or were given (scholarships, grants, etc.), and how much tax was taken out of that money. Individuals are then required to report back to the government about their tax status, effectively reconciling the amount of taxes paid to the government (for example, if more money was taken out of your paycheck than should have been, the government will refund that tax money to you).

Here are some additional considerations about U.S. taxes:

  • In certain instances, an international student may be exempt from paying income tax in the United States if a tax treaty exists between the United States and the student's home country.
  • Most international students are also exempt from paying Social Security and Medicare taxes, which U.S. citizens are required to pay. 
  • All international students, even those who earn no money in the United States, must file a tax report with the government every year through the Form 8843.
  • Individual students must act on their own behalves regarding tax matters, though the International Student Programs will act as a resource for students during tax season.

Watch a short video overview on your non-immigrant tax responsibilities.

Form 8843

All international students, even those who did not earn money in the United States, must submit Form 8843 each year. Find and file the form through If you have neglected to file this form in previous years, you may find previous versions of this form and file now.

Social Security Number

The Social Security Number (SSN) is a nine-digit individual identification number. The SSN facilitates the reporting of your wages to the government and determines eligibility for Social Security benefits. An employed international student must apply for a Social Security number (SSN). If you do not have a job or job offer, you cannot apply for a Social Security number.

To apply for an SSN, please first complete the Online Social Security Number Application. Once your application is completed, you will receive a reference number that starts with the letter "O." Please write this reference number down and have it ready for your visit to the Social Security Office. You will need the following for your visit to the Social Security Office:

  1. I-20 (printed and signed)
  2. I-94 (printed copy of your Arrival/Departure Record from the CBP I-94 website)
  3. Passport
  4. Employment letter (DOC) signed by your job supervisor and an ISP staff member
  5. Application Reference Number from your Online Social Security Number Application (begins with the letter "O")

Tips for Completing the Online Social Security Number Application

  1. Your name must match your passport, visa, I-94, and I-20 (you cannot use nicknames or shorten your names on the application). 
  2. Indicate that you are a "legal alien allowed to work" 
  3. Include your parents' full names, but leave their SSNs blank unless they have been previously granted a US Social Security Number.
  4. The mother's name on the application is their mother's maiden name (not their current last name, if the name changed if/when they got married)
  5. Use your Davidson College mailing address on the application. The address is critical because your card will be mailed to this address. You can find the correct format for your Davidson College address on the Davidson College Post & Print's Mailing Address Guide website

Social Security Office

Once you have completed the online application and gathered your documents, you will need to visit the Social Security Office. The closest Social Security Office is located at the address below: 

830 Florence St NW

Concord, N.C. 28027

The Social Security Office in Concord is open from 9am-4pm Monday-Friday. You can either go as a "walk-in" appointment or schedule an appointment following the guidance on this page of the Social Security Administration's website

ISP typically offers group trips to the Social Security Office at the beginning of the semester. Please sign up in advance for an upcoming ISP Social Security Trip.  

Related Links

Internal Revenue Service

Social Security Administration