I’m not eligible for an SSN—can I get an Individual Taxpayer Identification number (ITIN) instead? - Resources Blog - US Immigration FAQs - Richards and Jurusik Immigration Law - Buffalo NY

Nonimmigrant visa holders in the United States may need to file taxes. Without eligibility for a Social Security Number (SSN), an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) becomes necessary. This guide outlines the basic steps to obtain an ITIN, ensuring compliance with U.S. tax obligations.

1. Complete Form W-7

Your journey to obtaining an ITIN starts with Form W-7, the Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. This form can be downloaded from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website. Alternatively, you can request a physical copy by contacting the IRS directly.

2. Gather Supporting Documents

Accompanying Form W-7, you must provide documentation that verifies your identity and foreign status. The IRS accepts various documents, including passports, visas, and birth certificates. The complete list of acceptable documents is detailed in the instructions for Form W-7.

3. Fill in Form W-7

Fill out Form W-7 meticulously, ensuring all details like your name, mailing address, and date of birth match those on your visa and other identification documents. Accuracy here is crucial to avoid processing delays.

4. Submit Form W-7 and Supporting Documents to the IRS

Once Form W-7 is completed and you’ve collected your supporting documents, you can submit them to the IRS. This can be done by mailing to the specified address in the instructions or visiting an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center in person.

5. Wait for Processing

The IRS can process your ITIN application, which takes several weeks or months. Upon completion, you will receive a notification letter from the IRS. If your application is approved, this letter will include your ITIN.

Important Considerations

It is crucial to understand that an ITIN serves exclusively for tax purposes. It does not authorize work, extend visa rights, or serve as a legal ID for non-tax purposes. Consulting a qualified tax professional is advisable if you have questions or require assistance.


Obtaining an ITIN as a nonimmigrant visa holder is straightforward, but it requires attention to detail and careful documentation. By following these steps, you can fulfill your tax responsibilities in the United States. This is a basic overview and not tax advice. You should seek tax advice from an accountant.

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