As we have mentioned in the past few entries, there are numerous steps that must be taken by permanent residents once entry into the United States is granted. In our previous entry, we covered one of the most important initial steps, which is to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) as soon as possible. In this entry, we will go over what to do in case an individual cannot be approved for an SSN. In the case that an SSN cannot be issued, or a dependent family member of a permanent resident requires tax identification, they will need to apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). An ITIN is a tax processing number that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses for individuals who are required to have a taxpayer identification number (for a job, for example), but don’t currently have and are not eligible to receive an SSN. Generally, ITIN’s are 9-digit numbers, and generally begin with the number 9. Receiving an ITIN is not dependent on an individual’s immigration status, since residents and nonresident aliens are both able to have United States tax return and payment duties, according to the Internal Revenue Code. Inversely, an individual is required to have a filing requirement and also file a federal income return in order to be approved for an ITIN in the first place. Here are some examples of individuals who might need an ITIN:

  • A non-resident alien who does not qualify for an SSN but needs to file a U.S. tax return
  • A U.S. resident alien who does not qualify for an SSN but needs to file a U.S. tax return
  • A dependent or spouse of a resident alien or U.S. citizen
  • A dependent or spouse of a non-resident alien visa holder

If you have any questions about the different requirements between SSNs and ITINs, or have specific questions regarding obtaining an ITIN or SSN, please get in touch with an immigration attorney immediately.