Attention Hiring Departments and Newly Hired Foreign National Employees
Before a newly hired employee can begin employment with any U.S. employer, they are required to have a valid U.S. Social Security number (SSN) or a receipt from the Social Security Administration (SSA) confirming the employee has applied for an SSN.
WVU Tax Services and International Students & Scholars Services (ISSS) recently received notice from the Morgantown SSA office that they currently are operating with reduced staff due to COVID-19. At this time, the office unable to provide an estimate for when staffing levels will return to normal.
Because of reduced staffing and the need to implement physical distancing measures, SSA will be processing SSN applications by appointment only until further notice. Additionally, the Morgantown SSA office will not schedule back-to-back appointments to allow time to clean and disinfect the space between appointments. The office also will not process any walk-in applicants.
What this means:
· Due to the limited staffing at SSA offices, a foreign national in need of a U.S. SSN can expect at least a two-week wait period for an appointment.
· Individuals are not permitted to begin working for their department in any capacity while waiting for their appointment with SSA, and departments should not allow them to begin performing any job duties until confirming that they have completed their I-9.
· Beginning work as an employee prior to completing their I-9 is considered a violation of the individual’s status for unauthorized employment and will lead to termination of their SEVIS record (i.e., the employee’s I-20 or DS-2019).
What hiring departments should do:
· Discuss the situation with any newly hired foreign national employee to determine if they need a U.S. SSN.
· If the employee needs a U.S. SSN, provide them with an Employment Verification Letter. The letter must:
· Be an original document;
· Be on department letterhead; and
· Include a physical or a “wet” signature.
Note: A template of the Employment Verification Letter can be found on the ISSS website.
· Have a contingency plan in place to cover the job duties if the individual is unable to start employment on the planned date.
· The department should not permit the individual to begin performing services in any capacity until they have applied for their SSN and processed for payroll, including completion of their I-9 with Tax Services.
· Be understanding of the situation as the delay is outside of the normal processing time due to COVID-19.
What foreign national employees should do:
· Foreign national employees in need of an SSN who are physically present in Morgantown should call 1-866-770-2055 to request an appointment at the Morgantown SSA office.
· Foreign national employees in need of an SSN who are not physically in Morgantown but are physically present in the U.S. can call the national SSA office at 1-800-772-1213 to request an appointment at their local office.
· Be prepared for your appointment. Be sure to bring:
· The Employment Verification Letter from the supervisor/hiring department. The letter must be printed on department letterhead and include a physical or “wet” signature from the supervisor/hiring department representative. SSA will reject any letter that is not on department letterhead and/or does not have a wet signature, and the employee will be required to schedule another appointment.
· The Social Security letter issued by ISSS. ISSS has advised it can take their office up to five business days to process requests for social security letters. Social security letter requests will be processed by ISSS in the order they are received.
After submitting the letter request to ISSS, individuals should watch their MIX email account in case ISSS requires additional information. ISSS also will notify individuals via their MIX email account when the letter is sent via the U.S. Postal Service (or pick up, if available).
Individuals should not try to pick up their social security letter from ISSS until they have received notification that it is available.
· Have original, physical copies of all required documents. I-20 or DS-2019, I-94, passport, and visa. Photocopies, scans, PDFs, or other digital or non-original copies of any document will not be accepted.
Students and hiring departments with questions related to the Employment Verification Letter should reach out to ISSS at email@example.com. Hiring departments with general questions not related to the Employment Verification Letter should reach out to Tax Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Tax Services and International Students & Scholars Services teams
International Students, Employees and Vendors
- Taxable Income Information
International Honorarium Agreement [pdf]
- Income Tax Treaties
- Tax Returns
- Payroll Processing Information
- Social Security and Medicare Taxes
- Tax Residency Determination
- Student Employment Guidelines