SSN, I-9, Payroll for Non-immigrant Employees

This information  is intended as a guide for supervisors and administrators hiring non-immigrant employees, including international students, scholars, and faculty. Non-immigrants are people who are not U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents ("greencard holders").

Applicants/employees who don't have an SSN yet:  You may hire and employ an applicant who does not yet have an SSN. There is no need to delay or deny their hire or start date of employment.

  • Reves Center can help the employee apply for an SSN. However, the employee must apply in person at the Social Security Office.
  • The employee should complete Part 1 of the I-9 but will need to go to Human Resources or Financial Aid to have Part 2 of the I-9 completed.
  • The employee should contact the Payroll office to have their tax forms completed through the FNIS system.
  • The employee won't receive their first paycheck until after they have received the SSN.

Applying for an SSN

Completing the I-9

Completing Payroll/Tax Forms (W-4, VA-4)


Employees at W&M must have a Social Security Number (SSN) to be entered into the Payroll system. If an employee does not have an SSN, he/she may apply for one in person at the Social Security Office. See Social Security Numbers for details on the SSN application process.

To apply for an SSN:

  • The employee must have been in the U.S. for at least 3 days after any international travel.  This is so the government database has time to update.
  • F-1 students will need an SSN Letter of Employment to be completed by the hiring department. Complete and sign this letter and give it to the student.
    • The student must bring this letter to the Reves Center. The Reves Center will then issue a companion DSO letter in 2 business days.
    • With the two letters and his/her visa documents, he/she can apply for an SSN at the Social Security Office.      
  • Employees in most other visas types (except for J-1 students, who can request this letter from the Reves Center) do not need a special letter of employment to apply but must be authorized for employment in the U.S.
  • SSNs usually take about 10 days from date of application to arrive.
  • The employee may legally begin work without an SSN but will not receive a paycheck until he/she has one. Some departments prefer to wait until the employee has the SSN to begin work, which is also fine.
  • Once the SSN arrives, then the employee can be paid for the time that they worked before the SSN arrived.
  • SSN questions? Contact Reves Center ISSP staff:  757-221-3590.


The hiring department must complete an I-9 for the employee to verify employment eligibility.  It can be completed in advance but must be completed no later than 3 days after the start of employment.

All I-9s at W&M are completed online.

Notes on the I-9

  • The employee fills out Section 1 and the employer fills out the rest.
  • For Section 1, W&M F-1 and J-1 students and scholars should check the box “An alien authorized to work until_____” and then enter the date of expiration of the I-20 or DS-2019. The Admission # is the 11 digit number printed at the top of the I-94 record (this can be printed by the employee).
  • You may not require an employee to show any specific document; however, for F-1 and J-1 students and scholars, the documents that show employment eligibility are the passport, I-20 or DS-2019, and I-94 (which can be printed by the employee). They should also show the Social Security Card (if they have one).
  • No SSN yet? No problem! An SSN is not required to fill out the I-9.
    • If the employee does not yet have an SSN, check the box “Has applied for an SSN”.
    • Once the SSN is issued, the employee needs to bring it to Human Resources or Financial Aid (undergraduate and student hourly employees). They will enter it into TALX and complete Part 2 of the I-9.

I-9 questions?  Contact [[lmrigg, Lynn Riggs]] in Human Resources, 757-221-3153 or [[gjanderson, Ginia Anderson]] in Financial Aid, 757-221-2427



Employees must complete a W-4, VA-4, and Direct Deposit Form.

  • IRS Form W-4 should be completed electronically as a part of FNIS (see below)
  • VA-4 and Direct Deposit Form should be completed in paper format and returned to Payroll.
  • Payroll questions? Contact Payroll Customer Service: 757-221-2848

Guidance on completing the VA-4 for Non-Resident Aliens

  • Complete the personal information section.
  • Line 1 – On Line 1(c), please write in the number “0” or “1” (Non Resident Aliens can only select a maximum of “1” as their total number of allowances)
  • Line 2 – skip
  • Line 3 – skip (Non Resident Aliens cannot check this box)
  • Sign and date form

IRS Form W-4 (and FNIS)

  • Email the [[payofc, Payroll Office]] with the Subject Line: New International Employee: Needs FNIS. The employee should include their name, W&M email and 930#.
  • The Payroll Office will then send the employee the link for FNIS (Foreign National Information System) to complete the W-4 electronically.
  • Completing the W-4 electronically through FNIS ensures that the appropriate tax treaties are applied. This will help the employee be paid the correct amount.

Additional Information from Payroll