Office of Business Operations

Payroll | Employment and Taxation (International)

International student employees, graduate assistants, faculty and staff must contact Cheryl Klahsen ( in the Office of Business Operations - Payroll, 103 Gilchrist Hall prior to their employment start date.  In your correspondence, indicate whether you are a green card holder and/or if you have previously worked for the University of Northern Iowa.

Once the office receives your email or notification of employment, you will receive an email detailing instructions on how to log into our website to complete your Foreign National Information questionnaire.  Upon completion of your online questionnaire, you will be contacted with possible dates and times to come in for an appointment to complete various forms and provide requested documentation in order to determine correct taxation and reporting of income.

    • Forms to bring to your appointment will include visa, passport, printed copy of I-94 (with travel history) obtained from , and I-20 or DS-2019
    • Student employees should bring their bank routing and account number information
    • Graduate assistants should bring their assistantship acceptance letter

If an international person is required to perform a service (teaching, research, student assistant or other services), the payment is considered compensation and is taxable.  Some nonresident aliens are eligible for exemptions from federal income tax withholding because of tax treaties if they file IRS Form 8233 and any other required additional statements.  The Office of Business Operations - Payroll will determine if the international employee is entitled to tax treaty benefits and complete the necessary paperwork.  The University of Northern Iowa reports wages paid to a nonresident alien which are exempt under a tax treaty on Form 1042-S. Any additional wages paid to a nonresident alien over and above the exempt amount are reported on Form W-2.

All international employees receiving wages or salary for services performed are required to have a social security number (SSN).  During your appointment with Cheryl Klahsen to go over your employment documents, you will be instructed on how to obtain a SSN if you do not already have one.  While you do not need to wait until the actual SSN has been assigned to you to begin work, you will need to provide the SSN to the Office of Business Operations-Payroll as soon as it is received.

During the time that an international employee is considered to be a nonresident alien for tax purposes, the W-4 can only reflect a “single” status with a maximum of 1 allowance.  Even if the international employee is married or head of household, tax regulations require that the tax withholding be at the “Single, 0 or 1 Allowance” rate. 

For withholding tax purposes, resident aliens will be treated the same as U.S. citizens.

As a general rule, FICA tax is applicable to wage payments made by U.S. employers to nonresident alien employees, unless one of the following exemptions applies:

  1.  To be exempt from FICA tax under section 3121(b)(19), an individual must be:

● A nonresident alien; and

● Present in the U.S. under an F-1, J-1, M-1 or Q-1 visa; and

● Performing services in accordance with the primary purpose of the visa’s issuance

        2.  Student FICA Exemption Under Internal Revenue Code Sec. 3121(b)(10)

Section 3121(b)(10) sets forth the student FICA exemption which generally provides that a student who works for the school at which he/she is enrolled and regularly attends classes is exempt from the FICA tax.