Payroll For Foreign (Non-Resident) Employees

Many employees and visitors are present in the U.S. on temporary visas. An individual present in the U.S. on a temporary visa, who is not a tax resident of the U.S., is considered to be a “Non-Resident Alien”. Non-resident aliens have special taxation rules and may be able to claim tax treaty benefits for reduced federal taxation.

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Social Security Numbers

A Social Security Number is required of all employees in the U.S. Most non-residents arrive to the U.S. without a Social Security Number. Non-resident employees may begin working before applying for a Social Security Number, but it is required that they apply and provide the number to Syracuse University in a timely manner. Employees should present their Social Security Card in person at the Payroll Office for entry into the PeopleSoft system.


Foreign National Information System (FNIS)

This online questionnaire allows non-resident alien employees an easy and secure way to provide important information to Syracuse University in order for the University to determine the appropriate tax status for each employee. The online questionnaire must be completed by all nonresident aliens who will be working for Syracuse University and should be updated annually.

The online questionnaire is electronic and is to be completed on the web.

Click here to access the Foreign National Information System (FNIS).

In order to login, your User Id is your SUID number (9 digits) and your password is provided by the Payroll Office.  Email Payroll to obtain the FNIS password. When you have completed all the information for steps 1-5, you will confirm that the information is correct in step 6 and submit the questionnaire electronically. You do not need to send anything to Payroll at this time. If there are any questions while completing the online questionnaire contact Payroll.

Any form(s) that need to be completed to be able to claim a tax treaty for exemption of tax withholding will be uploaded to the FNIS, if consent is given, or mailed to the employee. The employee will then be required to print and sign the form(s) and return the form(s) to Payroll before the tax exemption will be allowed.


Withholding Allowance Limitations

Withholding allowances on the Federal form W-4 are limited to “Single” marital status and 1 withholding allowance for non-resident aliens. Residents of Canada, Mexico and Korea must claim “Single” marital status, but may claim 1 withholding allowance for each dependent accompanying them to the U.S. Non-resident alien employees should complete the online questionnaire in the Foreign National Information System in order to determine the appropriate withholding allowances.


FICA Taxes

Non-resident aliens on F-1 and J-1 visas are exempt from paying FICA (Social Security and Medicare) taxes until they become residents for tax purposes. F-1 and J-1 students generally maintain non-resident status for their first 5 calendar years in the U.S. Students also fall under the student FICA exemption, so generally students do not pay FICA taxes even after they become residents for tax purposes. J-1 researchers generally maintain non-resident status for their first 2 calendar years in the U.S. On January 1 of the third calendar year of presence, they begin to pay FICA taxes. All other non-residents, including H-1B, J-2 and TN visa-holders, are subject to FICA taxes from their first day of employment. Non-resident alien employees should complete the online questionnaire in the Foreign National Information System in order to determine the appropriate FICA status.


Tax Treaties

Residents of certain countries may be eligible to claim a tax treaty to exempt all, or part, of their wages from U.S. federal income tax withholding. NY State also honors federal tax treaties. Tax treaties for F-1 and J-1 students generally exempt a limited amount of wages, from $2000-$5000, from federal income tax. Tax treaties for J-1 researchers generally exempt all wages from federal income tax. A Social Security Number is required to claim the tax treaty benefit. Non-resident alien employees should complete the online questionnaire in the Foreign National Information System in order to determine if the employee is eligible to claim a tax treaty.


Year End Tax Forms

Wages for non-resident alien employees are reported on a W-2 statement at year end. Non-resident aliens who have claimed a tax treaty will receive a 1042-S form, which may be in addition to the W-2 statement. For more information, reference W-2 Statement.


Non-resident Aliens Working Outside the U.S.

Non-resident alien employees working for the University while physically present outside the U.S. have different tax reporting and withholding rules. Notify Payroll immediately when hiring a non-resident alien who will be physically present outside the U.S. at any time while performing services for the University.