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Current International Students

Social Security Numbers

All graduate students seeking employment must obtain a social security number before they can be paid. Applications can be made at a Social Security Office. Offices near campus are located at 601 Allerton St., Redwood City, 650-363-0665 and 700 East El Camino, Suite 350, Mtn. View, 650-961-5324 (1-800-772-1213) – may be temporarily closed. F-1 visa-holders will need to bring their passport, I-20 ID card, letter from the department and Bechtel I-Center. See the Bechtel International Center's Social Security Number page.

J-1 holders need their passport, a valid I-94 card and a letter from their visa sponsor. Usually, social security numbers can be obtained over the phone within two working days from submitting the application. The social security cards are mailed after a couple of weeks.


Any students in the U.S. on an F or J visa are considered non-residents for income tax purposes until they pass the substantial presence test; the I.R.S. website lists the requirements. Non-resident aliens have very few options for federal tax withholding, generally status “single” and exemptions “zero”. Tax treaties with specific countries may relieve some of the tax liability, but in general all salary or stipend payments will be subject to federal taxation. Tax treaty exemptions may be claimed by filing Form 8233 for assistantships or Form W-8BEN (for help, contact Son Jackson, son.jackson [at] (son[dot]jackson[at]stanford[dot]edu)) for fellowship/stipend payments. For more information visit Resources: Salary Tax Treaties and Forms. The appropriate attachment for the country of residence must be filed with the 8233 form. The state of California acts as its own taxing authority, and does not recognize federal tax treaties. For more information see the Student Affairs Resources page. Both federal and state income tax returns are due on April 15th for the preceding calendar year.

Questions regarding visa renewal, residency, extensions of stay, employment eligibility, and other issues regarding foreign students should be directed to the staff at the Bechtel International Center. The phone number for the F1 visa expert is (650) 723-1832.

Part-Time Work

Foreign students on an F1 visa with a 50% assistantship cannot accept part-time jobs except during breaks (e.g. between quarters or during summer quarter). Work is limited to jobs on-campus (e.g. serving as a grader for an exam). The International Center can advise you on current visa laws related to part-time jobs. Violations of your visa may be grounds for deportation and therefore must be taken seriously.

English Language Requirements

The English for Foreign Students Office (EFS, Bldg. 30, Main Quad, x 3-1310) offers several courses in English for Foreign Students. Certain foreign students with low TOEFL scores must be tested for English language proficiency to determine which, if any, of the English courses are required.

In addition, any international student wishing to be a teaching assistant must first pass the TA English Screening test in order to receive TA salary. See Screening of International Teaching Assistants.

Often students from Canada or others with strong spoken English ability may be cleared over the phone by the EFS office. If the screening is not done, you cannot be paid as a teaching assistant nor can you teach (TA).

Other Services

The Stanford Directory lists many services of interest to students. Of particular interest to international students are:

  • Community Awareness
  • General Services: childcare, financial aids
  • Health and Counseling
  • Student Organizations: ethnic, cultural
  • Transportation Services