I'm a nonresident alien (Canadian working online earning money from a US company). Currently, they're paying via mailed cheque, but I'd rather be on their payroll. However, in order to do that, I need to submit a W8BEN (to the payroll company), which in turn means I need to get an ITIN.

However, it seems that I have to submit the W-7 (ITIN application) form to the IRS along with a tax return form.

So my question is: do I have to wait until I file a tax return to obtain my ITIN or is there someway I can get it earlier so i can get onto the payroll?

  • "which in turn means I need to get an ITIN." W-8BEN doesn't necessarily require an SSN or ITIN. There is a space for SSN or ITIN "if required". Are you sure you are required to have one?
    – user102008
    Nov 16, 2015 at 23:29
  • Yes in fact banks which don’t require an ɪᴛɪɴ will requires a W8-BEN instead. Jan 5, 2019 at 15:55

2 Answers 2


The instructions for Form W-7 include a table of exceptions to the requirement to attach a tax return. It looks like you might fall under Exemption 2a, but I don't think there's quite enough information in your question to be sure.

The current instructions are here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/iw7.pdf

The table of exceptions runs from page 7 to page 9, so I won't try to reproduce it here.

  • What sort of additional information can I give you to be sure? Also, I have considered applying for reason a but wasn't sure which article number to reference (I'm simply contracting for a US company) Nov 13, 2015 at 14:31
  • You mentioned filing W8-BEN. When I scanned the table, it mentioned filing Form 8233. I was under the impression the W8-BEN would not apply here, but I do NOT have a lot of experience with non-resident taxes so don't take my word on that. I guess for me, I'd want to know why you think W8-BEN instead of 8233. Maybe others on the site who know more specifically about non-resident taxes will be able to see the answer directly though. @user5436699
    – user32479
    Nov 13, 2015 at 14:39
  • The problem for opening under exception 2a is it’s required to proof you have a bank account whereas the bank itself will require you an ɪᴛɪɴ Jan 5, 2019 at 17:29

I’m in the same situation (working remotely without conducting business for getting less than $5000 per year in income and the company refuses to change the payment method even if I signed a W8-BEN)
Got the definite/official answer through phoning to the ɪʀɪꜱ at Austin back in 2016 :

We give an ɪᴛɪɴ for filling a tax return. We don’t give an ɪᴛɪɴ for opening a bank account.

So if you don’t pay taxes to the ɪʀɪꜱ, you can’t get an ɪᴛɪɴ.

An often stated workaround if to register a business in the United States in order to open a bank account.
But in that case you’ll have to pay corporates taxes in a way which will still require to pay personal taxes in your home country. So it’s not a solution either.

So how to cash‑in ᴀᴄʜ check when banks in your country don’t provide a working way to do it ?

This solution only works if the target currency is a world reserve currency (like euro or British Pound or Yen).

The answer is simple ! Purchase cryptocurrencies in ᴜꜱᴅ with your checks with sites like paxful.

There is a drawback though : YOU CAN AND WILL GET ROBERED IN RIP DEALS MANY TIMES losing several dozen of thousands dollars across years. You’ll find criminals smarter than you successfully fooling you playing the honest guy even if you think otherwise.
You’ll also acquire a special type of reputation at your local police station.

But once you have cryptocurrencies you sell it to your home fiat currency on a centralized cryptocurrency exchange which offers to withdraw your local fiat for free (which will avoid getting robered on the sell side).

Advantages :

You access the market directly so there’s no fee at all for relying on someone which will do it for you. There’s absolutely no margin on the exchange rate (as long as you get quick due to cryptocurrencies price volatility).
And on the sell side many centralized exchanges don’t charge fees on POST order (otherwise fee is below 0.3%) which makes the entire process will only cost you the miner fee if successful (which currently can be achieved for less than 2¢ which several hundreds time less than a wire transfer).

You can compare this with opening a checking account at an expensive bank accepting non resident aliens which makes you’ll be charged up to 20% of the amount with various and mostly hidden fees which also include ones of your local bank (in my case I can’t exchange below 1.35$ per 1€ through banks whereas the market rate is at 1.12$/1€).

So until there’s a bank or a financial institution proposing a checking account without dormant account fees and minimum balances and to cash checks and ᴀᴄʜ wire transfer for free and charge less than 2% on international debit card transactions and accept to open an account without coming at branch your almost only option is to accept getting stolen by criminals. This is something you need to accept as well as many peoples have to accept using payday lenders.

This is also a good example of the damage hard line immigration policies can do while forging a Social Security number was worthing a try under Obama era.

  • Hopefully in France there’s no problem at opening a real bank account at an online bank using only well trusted foreign documentation and a foreign proof of address. The good fico score is replaced by the requirement of having a ᴄᴅɪ : a french type of labour contract with restrictions for firing peoples which also provide social benefits in case of loosing job. As result softening labour so called reform also harden the ability to do things like renting a home or a car but it’s an other story. Jan 5, 2019 at 15:03

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