Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

ITIN stands for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) created the ITIN for use by anyone who is not eligible to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) and who receives taxable money, such as scholarships, stipends, or awards from the University. If you already have a SSN, have ever had an SSN, or are eligible to apply for an SSN, you are not eligible to apply for an ITIN.  Should you apply for an ITIN now and later get a SSN, this will not cause any problems. You will simply start to use the SSN instead of the ITIN (to file taxes, submit to payroll, etc.) as soon as you receive it.  

If you are receiving a scholarship, grant, or monetary award from the University, you may require proof that you have applied for an ITIN before you can receive your check.  At the end of your ITIN workshop/appointment, OIA will provide you with a signed ITIN Application Receipt, which you can submit to your department as proof that you applied for an ITIN.  Follow up with your department directly for any questions you have about where or how to submit the signed ITIN Application Receipt or how to receive your award.

You might use an ITIN to:

  1. Receive a stipend or any part of a tuition grant if you are a student or postdoctoral fellow.
  2. Complete part of an application for an educational loan.
  3. Accept a one-time payment such as an honorarium for delivering a lecture.
  4. File your annual U.S. federal tax return if you've received taxable money in the U.S.

Do I Need an ITIN? Am I eligible to apply at OIA?

The the most common reasons F-1 students apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is to (1) receive payment for a stipend, fellowship or grant, (2) complete an application for an educational loan, or (3) open an interest-bearing or brokerage account. You will be eligible for apply for your ITIN with OIA only if you are receiving a University award, grant, or scholarship (the first example listed above). We are unable to process ITIN applications for non-University business.

In most cases, someone in your Dean of Students office, departmental HR, or financial administrator for your department will let you know if you need an ITIN. Additionally, you may receive an email from Payroll letting you know you need to apply for an ITIN and provide a signed ITIN Application Receipt to receive your award.

OIA assists with the application process only and advisers in our office are unable to determine whether or not you will need an ITIN. 

Do not submit an ITIN application if you are employed or have a job that will start soon. If you are or will be employed, you must apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) instead.

The ITIN application is to apply for a tax ID number only; you will need to work with your Dean of Student's office directly to receive your award.  See below to determine whether or not you are eligible to apply for an ITIN through OIA:

You can apply for an ITIN through OIA if ALL of the following are met:
  • You are currently in valid F-1 status,
  • Your F-1 status is sponsored by UChicago (i.e. UChicago issued your I-20),
  • You are physically present in U.S. and can come in-person to our office
  • You have submitted your electronic check-in to OIA
    -AND-
  • Your ITIN is required for University purposes, such as a UChicago scholarship, grant, or stipend.
OIA cannot process ITIN applications if ANY of the following applies:
  • Your status is not F-1 (e.g. H-4, A-2, L-1 etc),
  • Anyone on a J-1 visa may apply for a Social Security Number 10-calendar days after arrival in the U.S. 
  • Your immigration status is sponsored by an outside agency (such as IEI, Fulbright, etc) and not UChicago
  • You cannot come to our office in-person for an appointment,
    -OR-
  • The ITIN is for non-University purposes, such as interest-bearing bank accounts, loan applications. brokerage and stock accounts, or tax filing purposes. 

If you are sponsored by an outside entity (such as Fulbright or IEI), please contact your sponsor for guidance on how to apply for an ITIN.

How Do I Apply for an ITIN at OIA?

1: Attend an ITIN Workshop @ OIA 

OIA processes ITIN applications at ITIN Workshops. Workshops are held regularly and information is shared via our OIA News for International Students e-newsletter, which is sent to all students twice per month. 

To complete the ITIN process at a workshop, please make sure you follow the ITIN application instructions listed here and come to the appointment with the following documents completed.  All of these documents are necessary and required to process your ITIN applicationIf you are missing one of these documents when you come to the office, you will have to attend another workshop.

2: Prepare ITIN Application Documents

There are several documents you may complete ahead of time and bring to the ITIN workshop. Please be sure to bring photocopies as they are listed below. During the workshop, we will walk you through the ITIN application (W-7) and help you complete the form, prepare supporting documentation, and mail it to the IRS. After attendance at an ITIN workshop, you will receive an OIA Receipt showing you have applied to be provided to your Dean of Students Office.

Applying for an ITIN at OIA is only an application for a U.S. tax identification number through the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (the government agency that manages taxes). Although an ITIN application is needed to receive your award, the ITIN application is completely separate from the University process of receiving your award money. The documents listed below are for the governmental ITIN application only (the appointment at OIA) and may not be the same documents you need to complete your paperwork with the University.  Follow up with your Dean of Student's office if you have any questions about documents needed to process your award.

Documents to bring to the ITIN Application appointment:
  • Completed Form W-7 : You must fill this out exactly as the instructions below explain (see samples to the upper-right). This must be an original and cannot be a copy.
  • W-8BEN (Students from tax treaty countries only; see instructions below and sample to the upper-right)
    • NOTE: The W-8BEN may be used for multiple purposes. The information above applies to requirements for the ITIN application only (the application to the IRS). You may need a different or separate W-8BEN to complete your University paperwork and receive your award, even if you are not from a tax treaty country.
  • Copy of passport biographic page
  • Copy of your student visa
  • Copy of your I-94
  • Copy of your I-20
  • University award or loan letter (letter from your department stating you are receiving taxable money from the University). Does not need to be original.  Can be a copy or email printout.

Instructions to complete the W-7

It is important that you read and follow these instructions, section by section.  The IRS is very particular on how you file this form (especially the address portion).  Type on form or use black ink.  Do not leave any blanks; write 'N/A' if something does not apply to you. If you are unsure, leave a field blank and we will cover it during the workshop.

  • TOP: Reason you are submitting Form W-7:
    • Student from a tax treaty country (must match passport):
      • Check both boxes 'f' and 'h' only. Do not check any other boxes.
      • f - Nonresident alien student filing a U.S. tax return or claiming an exception
      • h – all applicants check this box (and write the following)
      • Write: 'Exception 2(b) - Scholarship Income' (must also include treaty country and article number – see page 2 of W-8BEN Form for needed information)
    • Student not from a tax treaty country:
      • Check both boxes 'f' and 'h' only. Do not check any other boxes.
      • f –  Nonresident alien student filing a U.S. tax return or claiming an exception
      • h – all applicants check this box (and write one of the following)
      • Write: 'Exception 2(c) - Scholarship Income'
  • Name – should appear exactly as written in passport
  • MAILING ADDRESS: Use the following mailing address. 
    Do not use your personal mailing address, as all approval notices are sent to the school:
    LINE 1: Univ of Chicago, Attn: Antonella Wellman, 6054 S. Drexel Ave, 400
    LINE 2: Chicago, IL 60637
  • Foreign Address (non U.S. address) must be filled in
  • Birth information – must match passport
  • 6a – Country of citizenship. Write entire name and do not use abbreviations. This must match country listed on I-20 and passport.
  • 6b – write 'N/A'
  • 6c – F-1 or J-1, visa number (see red # listed on visa).  Do not enter visa expiration date. Write D/S 'duration of status' instead of visa expiration date.:
    • Example: F-1, C8835628, D/S
    • Canadian passport holders: F-1, Canadian – no visa
  • 6d – check passport, and fill in country of issue, passport number, expiration date and most recent entry date to U.S.
  • 6e –Check 'No'
  • 6f - Write 'N/A' in name fields
  • 6g – write 'University of Chicago'  and 'Chicago, IL', duration of program should be taken from I-20 or DS-2019, (e.g. '45 months')
  • Sign, date and provide phone number

Instructions to complete the W-8BEN 

  • For ITIN applications, W-8BEN Form is ONLY required if you put Exception 2(b) on the W-7
    • The University may require a W-8 for all students for internal Payroll or University purposes.  However, for the ITIN application itself (the appointment with OIA), an W-8 is needed ONLY if you are from a tax treaty country (exception 2B on the W-7)
  • Complete Part I of this form and sign it.  Parts II and III should be left blank for this application.
  • This copy is for ITIN applications only.  We cannot provide guidance on other uses of the form, such as claiming tax treaty benefits.

3: After Your ITIN Application Appointment at OIA

OIA helps process your ITIN application with the IRS, but is not involved in completing the additional steps needed to receive your payment. After your appointment, the following steps will occur:

  1. OIA will provide you with an OIA Receipt, which acts as your ITIN application receipt. You will need this to receive your award.
    • You must provide this OIA Receipt to your Dean of Student's office. In some cases, you must also provide a copy to your department's administrator, or HR representative. 
  2. OIA will mail your application to the IRS
  3. The IRS will receive and process your application
    • It typically takes 2-3 months for the IRS to approve your application. The IRS will not expedite ITIN applications. 
  4. The IRS will mail your ITIN approval notice to the University Payroll office (the address indicated on your W-7 form).
  5. Payroll will enter your ITIN information into the University system (Workday).  You might receive an automatic email from Workday indicating that a new document has been updated. 
  6. A few days later, Payroll will email you when your original ITIN notice is ready to pick up at their office and will provide you with additional pick-up instructions. Your ITIN is ready when you receive this notification.
    • Until you receive an email from Payroll, you can assume that your ITIN application is still being processed. If you have been waiting more than four months for your ITIN to be approved or if you have additional questions about your ITIN number, you can contact Payroll at: payroll@uchicago.edu

Application Issues: If your application is rejected (it is rare, but it does happen), you will receive an email notification. 

How can I receive my scholarship/award?

Applying for an ITIN is just one step in receiving your University award. OIA helps submit your ITIN application to the IRS, but you will receive your award and manage all other paperwork with your Dean of Students office or department directly. 

You do not need to have the actual ITIN number to receive your award, but you must have proof you applied for the number (OIA Receipt). 

 If you have any questions, please follow up with your department or Dean of Student's office directly.

ITINs and Taxes

If you are receiving a taxable scholarship or stipend, you will require your actual ITIN number to file your tax return.   The IRS takes about 6-8 weeks to process ITIN applications. If you need your ITIN to file taxes, you will be able to do so utilizing tax assistance software sent to international students in late-February/early March each calendar year.

If you are from a tax treaty country and you have your actual ITIN number, you may be able to reclaim some or all of the withheld tax from your University award or stipend.  Contact your departmental HR or financial office for more information.  Because advisers in our office are not tax experts, OIA will not be able to advise you on if or how you can get a tax refund or other individual tax matters.