Skip to main content

New Employee Checklist for Foreign Nationals

This resource is intended for any foreign national newly employed by Northwestern University in the United States. A foreign national is a person who is not a citizen of the United States and is a citizen of a foreign country. Foreign Nationals who are newly hired by Northwestern University (and will receive a paycheck from Northwestern University) must complete these steps.

Step 1: Activate Northwestern NetID and Email

International Students
(F-1 & J-1 sponsored by Northwestern)

  1. Activate NetID
  2. Create Northwestern student email account (G Suite). NetID activation & email account creation would have been completed prior to receiving access to the OISS portal to request a Form I-20 or DS-2019.
  3. Set up Duo Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
  4. Set up Display Name (nickname or preferred name) and preferred email and pronouns. See "Display Name and Pronouns" at Personal Information and Records on the HR website.
    Step 4 is optional.

F-1 & J-1 students whose immigration records are NOT sponsored by Northwestern University do NOT need to check in with OISS. Instead, you must check-in with your program sponsor and receive authorization before starting any work.

Foreign National Employee

  1. A Northwestern NetID and email address is automatically created for a new employee once the hire is processed by Human Resources. Learn more about employee NetID assignment on the HR website.
  2. Employees sponsored by Northwestern University, need to Check-in with both OISS (see step #2) and hiring department. Most common sponsored employees are H-1B or J-1 visa holders.

Foreign nationals whose immigration record is not sponsored by Northwestern University do NOT need to check with OISS.

Step 2: Complete virtual check-in with the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISS)

See the appropriate instructions below.

International Students (F-1 & J-1 sponsored by Northwestern)

Complete check-in via the OISS portal within 5 days of arrival. See Arrival Checklist for New Students for details.

Foreign nationals employed by Northwestern but not sponsored by Northwestern

Foreign nationals whose immigration record is not sponsored by Northwestern University do NOT need to check-in with OISS. Skip this step and proceed to step 3.

J-1 Scholars

Complete check-in via email by emailing the following items to your assigned OISS Scholar Advisor

H-1B Employees

Complete check-in via email by emailing the following items to your assigned OISS Scholar Advisor:

  • I-94 Record
  • JPEG or PDF of visa page in passport
  • Image of admission stamp in passport (if given)

Step 3: Apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

Foreign nationals who already have a Social Security Card should skip this step and proceed to step #4.

Only apply for an ITIN if you are NOT eligible for a Social Security Number. See the OISS Social Security resource to determine if you are eligible.

Read more about Social Security and Tax Identification Numbers on the HR website.

Applying for a Social Security Number (SSN) (processing takes 2-6 weeks)

See complete instructions and required documents at How to Apply for an SSN.

After you receive your Social Security Card:

  • If you have presented I-9 documents already, send an email to  to request access to add your SSN to Section 1 of your I-9.
  • If you have not completed the I-9, start Section 1 of your I-9. See Step 4 below.

Who should apply for an ITIN?

Foreign Nationals who will receive stipends from a scholarship or fellowship, but will not be employed by Northwestern University, such as a graduate assistantship or temporary employment, will not be eligible for a SSN and must instead apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Students who receive an ITIN and later become eligible for a SSN should then apply for a SSN and cancel their ITIN.

ITIN applications are often completed with the Univeristy as part of the on-boarding FNIS process. See Step #5 below.

Step 4: Complete Form I-9

Form I-9 is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. All U.S. employers must properly complete Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the U.S. This includes citizens and noncitizens. Both employees and employers (or authorized representatives of the employer) must complete the form.

  1. Complete section 1 of the I-9 no later than the first day of employment/paid status: .
  2. Create a UserID and Password under the New Employees section.
  3. Present acceptable documents (passport, I-94, I-20, DS-2019, I-797, or EAD) to a Northwestern representative in your department or HR Operations no later than third day of employment/paid status.
  4. Once SSN is received, contact and ask for your I-9 to be opened.

Step 5: Register for Foreign National Information System (FNIS)

  1. Complete the FNIS request form and submit to Payroll office or email to
  2. You will receive an email within 48 hours with UserID, password and additional instructions.
  3. Complete data entry at on page 1-5 and submit on page 6. See the FNIS Tip Sheet for guidance on how to complete the electronic forms.
  4. Submit your data electronically and your FNIS tax forms will be ready for signature within 48 hours.
  5. Visit Payroll Office to sign your paperwork and present your documents. You will need to present the following: passport, visa, immigration documents (I-20, DS-2019, I-797 and/or IAD), and most recent  I-94 Record.
Northwestern University's Payroll Office is located at 1800 Sherman Ave, 1st floor, Evanston.

Step 6: Set up direct deposit and confirm your address

  1. Set up Direct Deposit to receive your paycheck electronically.
  2. Login to MyHR with your NetID and password to review and confirm your legal/mailing address.

Step 7: Learn about U.S. taxes and your obligations

Northwestern offers the following resources to assist you in understanding your U.S. tax obligations and filing a tax return.

OISS Resource on U.S. Taxes

Tax FAQs from OISS

Tax Information for Foreign Nationals - from Northwestern's Human Resources



Any questions should be addressed to