How to apply ITIN for H4?

*Updated* I received a mail from IRS in May 2016 about my ITIN number. I guess all the things I mentioned below worked just well 🙂


What’s ITIN?

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

General ITIN Information

As a dependent or spouse of a nonresident alien visa holder, with H4, I need to apply ITIN, since I’m not eligible for SSN. So, I began searching for someone who’s already done that and I found this extremely useful site:

The instructions are so clear, and we began to follow each one of them. You need to apply this ITIN along with your spouse’s Federal Tax Return as Married Filing Jointly.

First, I used TurboTax to fill my husband’s Federal Tax Return. The site is beyond easy to use, it asked you one question at a time. Since we’re filling for Married Filing Jointly, it required my SSN, and I’m not eligible for it, so I just left it blank. There will be some warnings that that SSN has to be filled, but you can move on and pick “File by Mail” in the end of the process. TurboTax will give you some files to print

Second, I downloaded W-7 form: Form W7 IRS. You need your passport and visa to fill this form.

Third, I checked for IRS office nearby. I prefer to go to the IRS office to submit our files, because they need my original passport. I can’t risk sending my passport now, can I? Although there must be some service provided to send this kind of important document, I’d rather spend some time in IRS office, knowing my passport will be with me at all times. I found the IRS Office close to my house here:IRS Offices. Some offices require you to make appointment beforehand, or you can just come and submit your files.

As for me, I picked IRS office located in San Jose, it says “By Appointment”. So we called them for appointment (toll free at 1-800-829-1040). Apparently, lots of people is already ahead of us that we got the appointment on April 15th, whereas filing Tax Return ends on April 18th. That does not sound good at all, considering we only have 3 days left. We decided to try the office in Oakland, as the site says “Service Provided”, means we don’t need to make appointment. By now, I have files form TurboTax (Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ) and form W7.

Fourth, it took 30 minutes to go to IRS Office in Oakland. I brought all the files, my passport, my marriage certificates, and copies of Federal Tax Return, passport, and visa (always, always make copy of everything, just in case). We arrived at 7.30 in the morning (your spouse or dependent has to be present for this), and we’re already the 6th person in the line. The office opened at 8.30, so prepare yourself.

I had pepper spray with me all the time, that I forgot I was about to go into federal building. The security warned us to not bring any kind of weapon inside. Surely, I didn’t think I brought one until he mentioned, “any kind of spray, pepper spray” (didn’t realized it was actually a quite good weapon hahaha!). So I put away the pepper spray in the garbage bin outside the building.

After we passed the security, we got the number based on the files we submit. Apparently, being the 6th person in the line does not help much. It didn’t make us the 6th person to be called inside the cubicle to see the officer. However, it didn’t take too long, after 20 minutes waiting, they called our number.

The officer we met was very nice and helpful. I had middle name that I typed on my W7, where on the  Form 1040, my middle name was written with an initial only. She told us that it may mismatch at some point, so she advised us not to do that again the next time we file the tax. She then told us to wait outside since she needed to do something with my passport. After another 15 minutes waiting, they called our number again, and we received the copies of 1040 and W7 with “RECEIVED” stamp on it.

Congratulations! You have filed your Tax Return and ITIN for your spouse or dependent!

There will be 3 letters coming within 7 to 11 weeks, telling if they need other supporting files from you. Let’s get our finger crossed, hopefully they got what they need.

Good luck! 🙂


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