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International Employees & FICA

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International Employees & FICA

New International Employees and Students

All employees of the university are required to complete the new hire paperwork on or before the first day of work for pay.  The new hire paperwork should be completed and turned into HR Records located on the first floor of the Nuclear Engineering Laboratory, room 122.

HR Records will need to make a copy of your passport, I-94 arrival/departure record, US Visa and either your I-20, DS2019, I-797A, TN stamp or Employment Authorization Document.

New Hire packets and additional information can be found on the Human Resources website, you can access the HR website by following the link below:


Need A Social Security Number?

After you have accepted a job at OU, you must apply for a US Social Security Number at the Social Security Administration office.  Employees are required to provide the Social Security Card to HR Records within 90 days from the first day of work.

You will need to obtain a letter of employment from the department that hired you.  Students are required to also have a letter of good standing from the International Student Services office.  Please go online at International Student Services (ISS) website to request a letter.  Once you have the letter(s), you will need to visit the Social Security Administration office in Moore, Oklahoma (Address: 200 NE 27th St, Moore, OK 73160).  You will need to take your passport and I-94 as well as the letter(s) of employment.  You will complete SS Form 5, provided below. The SSA will provide you a receipt letter confirming that you have applied.  Please bring or scan HR Records a copy of the letter.  Within 4-6 weeks, the SSA will mail you your Social Security Card.  You will need to bring the original SSC to the HR Records office so that they can make a copy of it and update your records.  This process must be completed within 90 days of your first day of work.

How Many Hours Can International Students Work?

Students are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week while the university is in session, Fall & Spring semesters.  Departments on campus have different rules for how many hours you can work during the summer and winter breaks.  Please refer to your hiring department for further information.  Graduate students may need to receive special permission from the Graduate College to work on campus.


OU as an employer has numerous tax withholding and payment obligations. Of the utmost importance is the proper payment of what are commonly known as FICA taxes. FICA taxes are somewhat unique in that there is required withholding from an employee's wages as well as an employer's portion of the taxes that must be paid.

The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) is the federal law that requires an employer to withhold three separate taxes from the wages you pay your employees. FICA is comprised of:

A 6.2 percent Social Security tax;

A 1.45 percent Medicare tax (the “regular” Medicare tax); and

Beginning in 2013, a 0.9 percent Medicare surtax when the employee earns over $200,000.

Employers must withhold these amounts from an employee's wages.

The law also requires you to pay the employer's portion of two of these taxes:

A 6.2 percent Social Security tax; and

A 1.45 percent Medicare tax (the “regular” Medicare tax).

FICA taxes are federal Medicare and Social Security taxes. The IRS permits certain students to be exempt from paying FICA when they work at the college they are attending (Internal Revenue Code 3121(b)(10)).

FICA Exemption: To be exempt from paying FICA, a student must be in a student worker title and be enrolled as follows:

Undergraduate Students: Must be enrolled in at least 6 hours in the fall and spring. Must be enrolled in at least 3 hours during the summer.

Graduate Student: Must be enrolled in at least 5 hours in the fall and the spring. Must be enrolled in at least 2 hours in the summer.

International Students: Subject to the same Immigration and Naturalization regulations which requires them to maintain a full time course load and work no more than 20 hours per week when school is in session. International students attending the university can work up to full time when school is not in session; i.e. summer and holidays [Title 8 Code of Federal Regulation 214.2(f)(9)(i)], if they intend to register for the subsequent academic term. However, when an international student meets substantial presence, they become a resident alien for tax purposes and could be subject to FICA taxes.

FICA Refunds: Payroll & Employee Services will not process FICA refunds for the following situations:

Students who were given an incorrect job title and were charged FICA taxes because of this error;

Students who were not enrolled at least half time by August 5th for Fall Semester, January 5th for Spring Semester or June 5th for the Summer Semester.  

Note: “Courses through OU North America & Europe (Advanced Programs) and/or the Center for Independent and Distance Learning (whether online or in-person) are not eligible credit hours for exemption from FICA.”