International students are an important part of the UC Berkeley and Haas School communities.
The Berkeley International Office (BIO) is your source non-academic advice and assistance. All new international students must check in with BIO and attend its orientation program for international students. Failure to attend this orientation can result in serious problems with the U.S. Immigration Service. You will receive information about the BIO orientation with your visa documents and is available on the BIO website.
BIO can help you with:
We recommend that you subscribe to the International Student Listserv, an e-mail digest of immigration news, special events, announcements, financial aid deadlines, workshop dates, and other useful information. Subscription instructions are included with your visa document and at the BIO orientation.
As a general rule, whenever you fill out US government forms or apply for documents issued by the US government, make sure your name appears exactly as it appears on your passport. Even small variations in your name can create big problems. This includes your:
Be sure you:
Everyone who work in the US must have a Social Security Number (SSN). This includes non-immigrants, such as students on F-1 or J-1 visas.
Most non-immigrants (including F-1 and J-1 students) should not have Social Security payments (FICA) deducted from their paychecks, nor are they eligible to receive any Social Security benefits.
Typically, employers automatically deduct these taxes from your salary. Talk to the Human Resource or Payroll Department where you work (including your summer internship) and let them know that, due to your visa status, you do not have to pay FICA or Medicare payments and ask for a refund if they have been withheld.
However, J-2 dependents who work must pay FICA and Medicare taxes. You can learn more in IRS publication 519, US Tax Guide for Aliens.
While you do not need an SSN to open a bank account, your SSN will be used by banks and other businesses for credit checks, financial transactions, and other purposes. Because of its financial uses, you should be very careful about where and to whom you give your SSN.
Do not apply for an SSN until at least two weeks after the semester begins.
BIO will provide application instructions at its orientation. To apply for an SSN, you will need your:
Everyone in the US, including foreign citizens, must file an income tax return to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) each year, even if you did not work or earn any money while here.
F-2 and J-2 dependents must also file an income tax return, whether or not they worked in the US.
BIO will hold workshops before the April 15 deadline for filing tax returns.