Can I use the ITIN number to work?

Immigrants in the United States want to work and wonder how they can earn money in this country. But they can not do it if it is not complying with the laws. And since many of them have restrictions due to their immigration status, then they are thinking of using the ITIN Number to work in the USA.

Not having an expert immigration lawyer or the support of a non-profit organization is a problem, but –luckily- internet could give us some answers.

According to our research, one of the most frequent unknowns within the foreign population in the United States is if they can use the ITIN Number to work. Let’s see what the IRS says about it.

Can I use the ITIN number to work?

What is the ITIN number?

The ITIN is a taxpayer’s personal identification number, something known in other countries as RIF, RUC, Codice Fiscale, etc. Anyone who resides in the United States -or who works remotely for an American company without living within the country- being a foreigner can apply for an ITIN for tax purposes.

What is the ITIN for? Basically, to be able to file the tax return. Now, it is important that you know that those who qualify for a Social Security number (SSN) do not need to obtain an ITIN: the ITIN is only available to those who cannot obtain a valid SSN.

Why did the IRS create the ITIN?

In the United States, anyone who receives income working for an American company, receiving income from a rental property within the country or abroad while living in the USA, etc., must file taxes. But not always that person who should file a return with the IRS is a legal resident of the United States.

The IRS created the ITIN so that those who do not have a legal residence in the country but still need to file a tax return can do so. Those who have legal residence and are authorized to apply for an SSN should file their return with this number.

In other words, the ITIN serves to help foreign residents or non-residents of the US who do not yet qualify for an SSN to file taxes, regardless of their immigration status. Therefore, even immigrants without a visa can apply for one to get right with the IRS.

Can I use an ITIN Number to work in the USA?

No. The ITIN has no other purpose than tax. It does not serve as a personal identification number nor can it be used to find a job.. In fact, the IRS expressly states that processing an ITIN does not give the taxpayer permission to work in the United States (nor does it positively or negatively influence their immigration status).

Therefore, we could conclude that the ITIN Number does not authorize the bearer to work within the country, nor does it give him the right to receive social benefits from the SSA, nor can it help him obtain a visa.

If so far, you feel confused because you know friends or relatives hired in the USA with an ITIN Number, stay with us! We can clarify your doubts.

Watch out! Do not use your ITIN to apply for a job in the USA

Suppose there are undocumented immigrants who have been hired by an American company. This company asks for their ITIN Number to “fill out the relevant forms and make the corresponding tax return.” Is this legit? It is real? Let’s see.

There are employers who, contradicting American law, hire undocumented immigrants to work because the latter, needing the job, usually accept a lower salary than an average US citizen or legalized citizen.

Yet these employers and businesses are breaking the laws. If an immigrant finds himself in a situation like this -working irregularly in the United States- you must do your tax return. In fact, this could help you regularize your immigration status in the future. So, according to the above, it is better to declare taxes for irregular work than not to do so if you have been working in the country. No one wants to look for more trouble.

However, It is not true that the employer can deduct salary taxes using the ITIN Number. If a company has subtracted money from the salary of an undocumented immigrant worker under that assumption, it must reimburse him for the deduction.

Were you able to work as an independent, in Uber, Lyft or similar with an ITIN Number?

The short answer is a resounding NO. While you can easily apply for a driver’s license with your ITIN, you won’t be able to use it to earn extra money by taking rides on Uber, Lyft, or any other delivery and personal transportation apps.

As usual, to be able to apply as a driver you will need an SSN, but remember: not even an SSN is proof enough to work in the United States.

What does this mean? That you could apply to the platform, have an approved profile and drive to earn money; but this could bring you problems with the authorities if you do not have a visa that allows you to work within the country or a valid work permit.

What else can be done with an ITIN Number?

Although the ITIN will not work for you, because it was created for tax purposes, it can be used for other things. Some examples? Let’s see them:

Buy a house in the USA

Either in cash or requesting a loan from the bank. Is it difficult for a banking institution to approve a mortgage with just an ITIN? Yes, indeed, it is. But there are options. If you have a good initial – 10%, for example – and you have filed your taxes for two consecutive years, you could opt for a mortgage loan (and more if you have someone with SSN to support you).

Buy health insurance

You may not be able to access free or low-cost residents without SSN insurance, but what you can do with your ITIN is buy a health insurance policy as an immigrant. This is great if you are living in the country because it will help you stay healthy and cover your medical expenses if you need it.

Apply for a driver’s license

A person with ITIN, depending on the state in which they reside, could apply for a driver’s license. Nevada, Delaware, New Mexico and Colorado are just a few examples. what about California? Well, although they do not ask for an ITIN, they will ask you for certain documents that show that you live in a city in the state.

What can you deliver? A bank statement where your address appears, the rental contract of the house -or the property document, if it is your own- or an electricity bill.

Apply for an American credit card

Which does not mean that it is approved. Remember that in the United States everything is based on the credit score or credit score (something difficult to have if you are a newcomer in the country). But nevertheless, what you can do with your ITIN is request a guaranteed American credit card, such as the Capital One Secured Mastercard. The APR of this card is not the best in the world -almost 27%- but it will help you build your credit from scratch.

Open a savings account in the United States

There are some banks that only ask savers for an ITIN number to open a savings account in the country. In addition to the tax identification number, they may need to prove their identity with a valid passport, but -without a doubt- the possibility of opening an account without so much paperwork is good news.

Which banks can open a savings account with an ITIN number? Various. Some examples would be Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citibank, and Capital One.

Note: Although the ITIN is not a personal identification number, it could be used to prove to the immigration authorities that you have been residing in the country for a specific number of years without failing to comply with the obligation to declare your taxes.

If I cannot use the ITIN to work in the United States, how can I work as an immigrant?

The easiest way to legally work in the USA as an immigrant is to apply for an EAD (work permit). However, an alien who is neither a US citizen nor a permanent resident can only apply for an EAD in certain situations. Everything will depend on the immigration status of the person, that is, a type of visa compatible with the EAD:
  • F-1, J-1 or M-1 visa. Even though these are student visas, you could apply for a special EAD as long as it is shown that you are in financial hardship as a student and get approval from the CPT or OPT.
  • Refugees or asylees. Like, for example, Cubans and Haitians. If your green card petition has not yet been approved by the competent authorities, asylees and refugees can apply for a temporary work permit.
  • Visa Eb1, Eb2, Eb3, Eb4 or Eb5.They are the visas reserved for immigrants with legal status who wish to reside in the country and work in the United States.
  • H-1B, H2, H-2B, H3, E, L-1, J1, O, P or R visa. They are the ones reserved for temporary workers who do not intend to reside in the country.
  • Citizens with TPS, which is a temporary residence permit, exactly, a temporary protected status. Citizens who are inside the country with a TPS have a temporary protected status that would allow them to access a work permit.

Note: Depending on the case, domestic or personal assistants and persons protected by the Deferred Action for Migrant Childhood Arrivals may also apply for a work permit.

Regardless of the situation you find yourself in, to apply for a work permit you will need to fill out a Form I-765, submit the application to USCIS, pay a filing fee (around $400) and wait for the decision.

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