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").

Step 1: SSN

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 a 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 obtain an SSN.       
  • 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:  757-221-3594.


Step 2: I-9

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. See the instructions (pdf).

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. They will 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


Step 3: Payroll

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: 757-221-2842


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.
  • No SSN yet? The employee can get the link for FNIS but will have to wait until he/she receives it before he/she can complete FNIS.

Additional Information from Payroll