Documents Related to Immigration
All foreign nationals in the United States are issued "immigration documents" indicating the type of immigration status one holds. The information on these documents determines the nature of activities permitted under the terms of the particular immigration status.
Every foreign national who enters the U.S. legally is given an "immigration status" upon entry. This immigration status determines the types of activities the foreign national can engage in and the length of time he/she is eligible to remain in the United States.
You must keep your passport valid at all times while you are in the U.S. (unless you are exempt from passport requirements).
If your passport will expire while you are still in the U.S., you must contact the embassy or consulate of your home country in order to make arrangements to have your passport extended. You will not be permitted to re-enter the U.S. with an expired passport. If you lose your passport, you should immediately take steps to have it replaced. Please contact the OISS for help.
Most foreign nationals must obtain a visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy in their home country before coming to the U.S. to study or work.
At your visa interview, the U.S. Consular Officer will review your supporting documents and choose to approve or deny your application. Non-immigrants applying for a non-immigrant visa must show proof of adequate financial resources, provide evidence of close ties to the home country, and convince the Consular Officer that he/she has no intention of remaining in the U.S. permanently.
Visas are used to gain entry to the U.S. in a particular immigration status. They are issued for varying lengths of stay and may be for single or multiple entries. The visa stamp is placed in the foreign passport.
A visa is an entry document only; it does not indicate how long a foreign national is permitted to stay in the U.S. The length of stay is determined by an Immigration Officer at the port of entry and the date is specified on the Form I-94, Record of Arrival and Departure. It is the I-94 record, combined with other immigration documents, which authorize the length of time a foreign national is permitted to remain in the U.S.
If the non-immigrant visa expires after the foreign national is lawfully admitted to the U.S., it is permissible for him/her to remain in the U.S. as long as the I-94 record and other immigration documents remain valid. However, as soon as the foreign national departs the U.S., a new visa is required to re-enter.
Note: In most cases, international students will need to apply for an F-1 visa. Others may need to apply for J-1 (exchange visitor) visa. Click here to be directed to the Department of Homeland Security for more information on visa classification.
The Resident Alien (or Green) Card
Commonly called a "Green Card", the resident alien card is issued by the DHS to foreign nationals who have been granted permission to reside and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis. Green Card holders are also referred to as Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR or PR) and they have an immigrant visa as opposed to a non-immigrant visa. If an individual presents a Resident Alien Card as verification of employment eligibility, no other documentation is required. Permanent residents do not have I-94 cards.
Visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website for more information about the Green Card.
Forms & Instructions
The Form I-94 is issued to foreign visitors upon entry to the U.S. to record their dates of arrival and departure.
The I-94 record is extremely important, as it is evidence of an individual's lawful admission to the U.S. in a specific immigration status. The I-94 record indicates the type of (non-immigrant) visa category under which the individual was admitted to the country, the date and place of admission, and the length of stay authorized.
Understanding the I-94
- Admission Record Number: The number assigned to you when you enter the U.S. This number changes each time you enter the U.S.
- Class of Admission: Your visa category (example: F-1, J-1)
- Admit Until Date: The date by which you must leave the U.S.
Note: If "D/S" (Duration of Status) is listed, this means that you can stay in the U.S. as long as your Form I-20 or DS-2019 is valid. This expires when you complete your program. After the program end date, an F-1 visa holder has a 60-day grace period, and a J-1 visa holder has a 30-day grace period. During your grace period, you may stay in the U.S. while you prepare for departure. "D/S" expires when a student's status has been terminated or at the end of program completion. Be sure to consult with the OISS staff about any exceptions to avoid serious consequences that may result from being out of status.
Form I-20 is issued to a student who has been admitted to a degree-granting program at a college or university. At UNH, the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) issues the I-20 after the student has been formally admitted and has provided all the necessary financial documentation required by federal regulations. The I-20 contains information about the student and indicates the planned program of study, the school to which the student must report and is valid only for the program start/end dates as listed.
The student uses the I-20 to apply for an F-1 Student Visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in his/her home country. The F-1 visa permits the student to enter the U.S. in F-1 student status and report to the academic institution that issued the I-20.
On entry to the U.S., the student presents a valid foreign passport containing the F-1 visa and the I-20 to an Immigration Officer. The officer will examine the documents and may ask specific questions related to the course of study. If satisfied, the officer will admit the student to the U.S. in F-1 status and stamp the foreign passport (generating an I-94 record).
Click here to be directed to the Department of Homeland Security for more information on the Form I-20.
The Exchange Visitor Program is administered by the U.S. Department of State (DOS). Its purpose is "to promote international educational and cultural exchange to develop mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries".
There are many categories of exchange visitors: professors, research scholars, specialists, students, short-term scholars, interns, etc. All exchange visitors are issued a Form DS-2019, by their program sponsor, so that they can apply for a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy in his/her home country.
On entry to the U.S., the foreign national presents a valid foreign passport, containing the J-1 visa stamp, and the DS-2019 to an Immigration Officer. The officer will examine the documents and may ask specific questions related to the program. If satisfied, the officer will admit the foreign national to the U.S. in J-1 status and stamp the foreign passport (generating an I-94 record).
To determine if a particular J-1 exchange visitor is eligible to be employed or compensated by UNH, please contact the OISS.
Click here for a more detailed description about the Form DS-2019.
Form I-797, Notice of Action, is issued as a result of an application or a petition submitted to the USCIS. Foreign nationals might have Form I-797 as a result of a request to change from one non-immigrant classification to another, or because a petition has been filed on their behalf by an employer or other entity. If the application or petition is approved by USCIS, a Form I-797 is issued to verify the approval.
The top left-hand corner of Form I-797 is imprinted with a unique number which begins with three letters, followed by 10 digits. This form also contains a description of the action requested and the name of the person or organization which filed the petition, the visa classification approved and the validity dates. The lower half of the form contains a replacement I-94 card.
The beneficiary of an approved Form I-797 for an employment-related "immigration status" is only permitted to work or receive compensation from the sponsoring employer listed on Form I-797.
A UNH employee in possession of a valid I-797 for an employment-authorized immigration status such as a J-1, H-1B, TN or O-1 does not need an additional employment authorization document (such as an EAD card) and need only present Form I-797 and a valid picture identification for employment verification.
Click here to be directed to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for more information about the Form I-797.
Form I-9 is available from your hiring department or you may download a PDF version.
Every individual who is employed in the United States is required by federal law to provide evidence that he or she is eligible for employment. This is accomplished by the completion and verification of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.
It is against the law for an employer to allow you to work unless Form I-9 has been completed and verified within three business days of beginning work.
- Completing Section 1, Employee Information and Verification
- Completing Section 2, Employer Review and Verification
Extension of Employment
Form I-9 must be updated whenever your employment is extended. If you neglect to have Form I-9 updated, and your current employment authorization date expires, your paychecks will stop. Employment authorization usually corresponds with the expiration date on your Form I-20, DS-2019, or I-797 so you must first obtain an extension of stay. Consult the OISS for an extension at least 30 days before your documents expire.
The information on the Form W-4 is used to calculate and withhold the proper amount of tax from your wages, scholarship, assistantship or grant. The Form W-4 is available on the IRS website.
Completing Form W-4 as a Non-Resident Tax Payer
Instructions on the Form W-4 are intended only for U.S. citizens, "Green Card" holders, and permanent residents for tax purposes. Therefore, with a few exceptions, the instructions printed on the worksheet of Form W-4 should not be followed by individuals who are not considered to be residents for U.S. income tax purposes.
- Name: enter your first, middle and last (family) name as shown on your passport.
Home Address: enter your local U.S. address (street number and name, apartment number if any, city, state and zip code).
- Social Security Number: enter your U.S. Social Security Number. (If you have not yet received one, write "applied for.") IMPORTANT: do not use your UNH ID number or Canadian social security number.
- Marital Status: all non-residents for tax purposes must check SINGLE in this block (even if they are married) unless they are married to a U.S citizen or permanent resident and will file a joint income tax return with their spouse at the end of the tax year.
- Allowances: Non-residents may claim only 1 allowance on the Form W-4 unless they are residents of Canada, Mexico, Japan, or the Republic of Korea. If you are a resident of one of these countries, you may claim additional allowances as authorized in Section 8 of IRS Publication 519, Tax Guide for Aliens. Students who are residents of India may claim allowances as authorized in IRS Revenue-Procedure 93-20. (See Exceptions to Withholding Policy for more information.)
- Additional Amount: write “Non-Resident Alien” or “NRA” above the dotted line.
- Exemption: Leave this blank. You may not claim exempt status on this form. To claim any exemption from U.S. tax obligations you must complete Form 8233.
- Signature: sign where indicated.
- Date: enter the date you signed the form.
- Attach copies of your
- U.S. visa;
- Form I-94;
- Form I-20, DS-2019 or I-797.
- Submit everything either to your hiring department or to “Payroll, 1 Leavitt Lane, Campus”.
Please note: Students who have been in the US in F-1 or J-1 visa status for 5 or more years, and visiting professors or researchers who have been in J-1 status for 2 years or more are likely to be considered a resident for tax purposes and the following instructions may not apply. Click here to be directed to the IRS website to determine your alien tax status.
Exceptions to Withholding Policy
As a result of agreements between their home countries and the U.S. , citizens of Canada, Mexico, Japan, Korea and India may claim more than one withholding allowance on Form W-4.
Canada and Mexico: Married residents of Canada and Mexico may claim an allowance for their spouse if the spouse is not the dependent of another U.S. taxpayer, and if he/she had no taxable income for U.S. purposes. Mexican and Canadians may also claim deductions for their dependents.
Japan and Korea: Nationals of Japan and Korea may also take allowances for their spouse and dependent children who lived with them in the U.S. at any time during the tax year. Full dependent allowances are permitted if:
- the spouse and/or children do not have income from U.S. sources and are not claimed as dependents on someone else’s U.S. tax return, and
- the nonresident alien from Japan or Korea earned only U.S. source income connected with trade or business. If you are a citizen of Japan or Korea and you earned income from foreign sources, consult IRS publication 519 for more information.
India: Students from India may take an additional allowance for his/her spouse if the spouse has no gross income, is not claimed as a dependent by another U.S. taxpayer, and the couple does not file a joint tax return. An allowance for a child who lives with the student and who is a resident of the U.S. , Canada , or Mexico can also be claimed as an exemption. Indian students are entitled to the standard deduction on federal income tax returns.
Exemption From Withholding on Compensation for Independent (and Certain Dependent) Personal Services of a Nonresident Alien Individual
To claim an exemption from U.S. Income Tax under a tax treaty between the U.S. and your country, you must complete Form 8233 (see instructions). You must also complete and attach a statement which describes why you are eligible for an exemption under the tax treaty.
See sample forms and statements below:
Tax treaty information is available online at IRS Publication 901 U.S. Tax Treaties.
Note the following questions should be answered as follows on Form 8233:
14. Sufficient facts to justify the exemption from withholding claimed on line 12 and/or line 13: Write in the following: "I am a legal permanent resident of (name of country) and I am eligible to claim exemption from withholding based on the tax treaty between the US and (name of country for which you are claiming benefits)".
15. Number of personal exemptions you are claiming: Leave blank.
16. How many days will you perform services in the US during this tax year? Leave blank.
17. Daily personal exemption amount claimed: Leave blank.
18. Total personal exemption amount claimed: Leave blank.
How to Submit Form 8233
In order to apply for tax treaty benefits, you must complete Form 8233 correctly and attach:
- a letter or statement describing your eligibility for the tax treaty exemption (See IRS Pub 519, Appendix A & B)
- a copy of your most recent Form I-20, DS-2019, or I-797
- a copy of your most recent I-94 record,
- a copy of your most recent U.S. visa,
- a copy of your passport ID page,
- a copy of your most recent award letter (e.g. Assistantships, Scholarships, etc.)
These documents should be submitted to the OISS. We will review the documents and then forward them to the UNH Payroll Office.
It is the responsibility of the UNH Payroll Office to review your form and accompanying documents. UNH Payroll will fax your application to the Internal Revenue Service, which makes the final determination on your eligibility. It takes approximately 3 to 4 weeks from the time you complete the forms until the information is entered into the payroll system. Please be patient while your information is verified and computed.
If after 4 weeks, taxes are still being taken out of your paycheck, please contact the Payroll Office at (603) 862-1400.
To be employed in the United States, you must have a U.S. Social Security number. This number is issued by the U.S. Social Security Administration. You must file an application with the local Social Security Office to receive this number.
Instructions for Completing the Social Security Application Form
Follow the instructions on the application form but note the following exceptions:
If you are a student, in part 16, "Mailing Address," write c/o Office of International Students and Scholars, UNH, Conant Hall 315, 10 Library Way, Durham, NH 03824-3597, if it doesn't already indicate this. Please do not use your own local mailing address.
If you are a scholar, faculty or staff member, you may use your local mailing address, your department address, or the OISS address.
In part 3, "Citizenship," check the box marked "Legal Alien Allowed to Work". (Note: neither eligibility for a social security number nor possession of a social security card gives you actual authorization to work. Students should always check with the OISS before accepting any type of employment. International scholars, faculty and staff should also consult with the OISS if they are considering accepting any additional employment. It is a serious violation of your visa status to work in the U.S. without the proper employment authorization and could be cause for revocation of your visa.
It will take approximately 2-4 weeks for your Social Security Card to arrive. If you have given the OISS as your local address, we will notify you when the card arrives.
How to Apply for a Social Security Number
Go in person to the nearest Social Security Office.
Please look up the nearest Social Security Office to you. Please note, most offices are currently requiring appointments to be made in advance.
- Durham zip code: 03801
- Concord zip code: 03301
- Manchester zip code: 03101
Social Security Administration
Phone: (888) 397-9796
General Information (800) 772-1213
You must present the following documents:
- application for a social security card
- your valid passport
- your Form I-94 (Record of Arrival and Departure)
- your original Form I-20 or DS-2019
- your assistantship letter, if applicable (students) or your offer of employment and INS Form I-797 (scholars, faculty and staff)
- certification letter from OISS (Form for F-1 students verifying your eligibility for a Social Security Number)
- valid EAD (J-2 dependents only)
Note for Canadians: A Canadian number is not interchangeable with a U.S. number. You should not list your Canadian number where a U.S. social security number is requested. Believe it or not, it does happen, and individuals can get their paychecks delayed, or have other difficulties - especially when their Canadian number matches another individual's U.S. number.
Form W-7 - application for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
Foreign nationals who are not authorized to work in the United States because of the type of visa status they hold, are not eligible to receive social security numbers. (This includes all spouses and dependents on F-2 visas as well as those individuals in B visa status.)
Individuals who are not eligible for social security numbers may apply instead for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). An ITIN is available from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which also has a branch office in the Federal Building in Portsmouth. An application for an ITIN is made on IRS Form W-7.
We strongly recommend that you have your dependents apply for the ITIN if they are not eligible for a social security number since a taxpayer ID number must be indicated on your U.S. income tax return which you must file each year. (See the section on taxes for more information on income tax returns.)