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International Center

Social Security and Taxes

Social Security Number

Social Security numbers are numbers assigned by the Social Security Administration.  The Social Security Administration is a specific set of numbers assigned to people who are authorized to work in the United States.  The social security number is the way a company can report your wages to the government for tax purposes.

If you are in the US on an F-1 or J-1 visa and you have been offered a job on campus at Winthrop University you are eligible for a social security card. Student on F-1 and J-1 visas are allowed to work on-campus no more than 20 hours per week during the semester and full-time over the summer.  Only students who have been offered a job can apply for a Social Security number. 

General Application Procedures

To apply for a Social Security number you must provide the following items to the Rock Hill Social Security Office:

  • Complete an Application For A Social Security Card (Form SS-5) and
  • A job offer letter on Winthrop letterhead from an office on campus stating that you will be working for them on a part-time basis during the semester and being paid for your services.  This letter should also state the job you will be doing, your employment start date, and your supervisor’s name and telephone number. 
  • A letter from the International Center (IC) on Winthrop letterhead stating that you are an international student studying at Winthrop and eligible to work part-time on campus.  You may request your letter by completing the International Student Letter Request Form.
  • Your passport, F-1 or J-1 visa, I-94 card and either the Form I-20 or DS-2019.
  • Take your completed application and original documents to your local Social Security office (driving directions below).

New Student
If you have just arrived in the US, it is recommended that you wait until you are registered in SEVIS before you apply for a Social Security number. In order to be registered in SEVIS, you must report to the International Center at Winthrop University. Taking these actions will ensure that a Social Security number can be issued to you in a timely manner by the Social Security Administration.

Approved for CPT
If you are an F-1 student authorized to work in curricular practical training (CPT) and need to apply for a social security card, you must provide your Form I-20 with the employment page (page 3) completed and signed by Winthrop’s International Student Advisor.

Approved for OPT
If you are an F-1 authorized for optional practical training (OPT) and have an Employment Authorization Document (OPT card) issued by the Department of Homeland Security, you must present that card along with your Form I-20, passport, visa and I-94 card.

Approved for Academic Training
If you are a J-1 student authorized for Academic Training, you must provide a letter from your International Student Advisor authorizing the employment along with your DS-2019, visa, passport and I-94 card.  

All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. The Social Security Administration will not accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. Also, the SSA cannot accept a receipt from USCIS showing you applied for OPT, you must have the actual OPT employment authorization document. The SSA may use one document for two purposes. For example, they may use your OPT card as proof of both work eligibility and identity. However, you must provide at least two separate documents. 

Please remember to take your passport, visa, I-94 and Form I-20 or DS-2019 along with the needed letters and Social Security card application with you to the Social Security Office.  All of these documents together should satisfy the application process.

Directions to the Rock Hill Social Security Office at 498 Lakeshore Parkway –

  • From Tillman Loop turn right going southeast on Oakland Avenue/ US-21 BR toward Sumter Avenue - 0.8 miles
  • Turn right onto Southern Street - 0.0 miles
  • Turn right onto Piano Place  - 0.0 miles
  • Turn right onto Dave Lyle Boulevard/ SC-122 E. - 1.4 miles
  • Turn right onto Gateway Boulevard - 0.2 miles
  • Turn right onto Lakeshore Parkway - 0.1 miles
  • End at 498 Lakeshore Pkwy Rock Hill, SC 29730
    Estimated Time: 5 minutes      Estimated Distance: 2.53 miles

Federal/State Income Tax

Each year, all persons present in the US must complete a tax form and return it to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  The deadline for returns to be submitted to the IRS is on or before April 15. 

The College of Business at Winthrop University works to bring Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) representatives to Winthrop in spring of each year.  These VITS representatives are trained by the US Internal Revenue Service to assist with tax preparation.  The International Center will update students each January of the services being provided by VITA for assisting international students with their tax returns.   

Please note that you, the student, are responsible for filing your tax return.  You are responsible for gathering together all of the needed paperwork, completing all the required forms and making all the photocopies of the needed documents.  If you choose you can take your taxes to an outside tax agency to have your taxes prepared as well.  Tax preparers usually charge a fee to prepare your taxes.  Tax preparation is solely your responsibility.  

Tax Treaties

The United States has tax treaties with a number of foreign countries. Under these treaties, residents (not necessarily citizens) of foreign countries are taxed at a reduced rate, or are exempt from U.S. taxes on certain items of income they receive from sources within the United States. These reduced rates and exemptions vary among countries and specific items of income. Under these same treaties, residents or citizens of the United States are taxed at a reduced rate, or are exempt from foreign taxes, on certain items of income they receive from sources within foreign countries. Most income tax treaties contain what is known as a "saving clause" which prevents a citizen or resident of the United States from using the provisions of a tax treaty in order to avoid taxation of U.S. source income.

If the treaty does not cover a particular kind of income, or if there is no treaty between your country and the United States, you must pay tax on the income in the same way and at the same rates shown in the instructions for the applicable U.S. tax return.

Many of the individual states of the United States tax income which is sourced in their states. Therefore, you should consult the tax authorities of the state from which you derive income to find out whether any state tax applies to any of your income. Some states of the United States do not honor the provisions of tax treaties.

The IRS provides information on tax treaties between the United States and particular countries. For further information on tax treaties refer also to the Treasury Department's Tax Treaty Documents page.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN's)

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is a nine-digit number that always begins with the number 9 and has a range of 70-88 in the fourth and fifth digit, example 9XX-70-XXXX. The IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).  However, many foreign nationals are not eligible for SSN’s, since the issuance of SSN is tied to eligibility for employment authorization.

IRS issues ITINs to foreign nationals and others who have federal tax filing requirement and do not qualify for SSNs. A non-resident alien individual not eligible for a SSN who is required to file a U.S. tax return only to claim a refund of tax under the provisions of a U.S. tax treaty needs an ITIN.  The ITIN is for tax purposes only. It cannot be issued for other purposes, such as applying for a driver's license or state ID card. In fact, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles does not accept an ITIN as a valid identity document.

Examples of individuals who may need an ITIN include:

  • An F-1 or J-1 student receiving a scholarship who shows written proof that his or her application for a social security number was rejected by the Social Security Administration;
  • An individual not eligible for a SSN but required to file a tax return to claim a refund of tax under the provisions of a U.S. tax treaty;
  • An individual not eligible for a SSN but who is the dependent child or spouse of a non-resident visa holder from Canada, Mexico, India or Republic of Korea (these are the only countries that permit non-residents for tax purposes to claim spouses or children as dependents on their tax returns, based on the terms of the tax treaty with the United States.)
  • An individual not eligible for a SSN who is a dependent or spouse of an individual who is a resident for tax purposes (once an F-1 or J-1 student has been in that non-immigrant status for more than five years, that student becomes a resident for tax purposes and can claim their spouse and/or children as dependents on their U.S. tax return).
  • An individual not eligible for a SSN but who has opened an account with a financial institution that generates income subject to either reporting or withholding.

The IRS provides comprehensive information on how and when to apply for an ITIN, how to get help with your ITIN application and how and when to expect to receive your ITIN after submitting your application.  The International Center can answer very basic tax questions; however, no staff member in the International Center is qualified to give tax advice.  The International Center cannot provide assistance with obtaining an ITIN other than to direct you to the IRS website or a qualified tax professional in our area.

On-Campus Employment

As an international student you are allowed by the Department of Homeland Security to work 20 hours per week on-campus.  Winthrop University requires anyone who works on-campus to have a social security card prior to beginning employment.  Once a student receives a social security card they must have this information registered with the University in order to receive a paycheck.  A student must take their social security card to Records and Registration to have their card number added to their student record.

As an employee a student must complete an I-9 form by the first day of work.  If this is new employment, Winthrop University is required to verify someone's social security number through a Federal database, E-Verify.  The IC is responsible for the E-Verify process for all international students on campus and for assisting a student in completing the I-9 form.  It is the students responsibility to get the I-9 form and E-Verify process taken care of in a timely manner.

For any questions about Social Security, Taxes, Tax Treaties or On-Campus Employment contact the International Center.

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International Center
701 Oakland Avenue
218 Dinkins Hall
Rock Hill, SC 29733, USA
803/323-2340 (fax)
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