Carnegie Mellon University

Foreign National Information System (FNIS)

1. General

The Foreign National Information System (FNIS) is used to determine if foreign nationals have any tax benefits based on country of origin, length of stay, type of visa, and type of earnings. It searches for any applicable tax treaties and/or exemptions that can be applied directly to the foreign national’s pay.

All foreign national employees and students earning wages except for legal permanent residents. The FNIS application is the only way to determine tax information relating to exemptions and tax treaties that may apply to foreign nationals.

Payroll emails login credentials and instructions for completing the FNIS application one to two weeks after an eligible employee completes section two of the Form I-9 at the HR Service Center.

Since treaty benefits and exemptions do not automatically carry over into the next calendar year, the FNIS application process must be completed once per calendar year while employed at CMU.

In addition, employees should also update and resubmit their FNIS application if their immigration status changes during the current calendar year (e.g., J-1 status to H-1B status) and/or if they are terminated and rehired within the same calendar year (e.g., student job profile to staff job profile).

Login credentials are delivered via email. FNIS usernames/passwords are not the same as Andrew IDs/passwords.

The password retrieval process requires the employee to enter their FNIS user name and the specified email address, which is usually set up as the employee’s CMU Andrew email address. The employee should confirm that the correct credentials are being entered on the password retrieval site and check their spam/junk folder in the event that the reset link was filtered there. Contact Payroll at to request confirmation of login credentials.

First, confirm the email is not in the spam/junk folder. If still unable to locate a FNIS email and section two of the Form I-9 was completed more than two weeks ago, contact Payroll directly at to request login information.

CMU employees complete foreign national-related tax forms through FNIS to simplify the process. Form 8233 requires an extensive amount of information that may or may not be applicable to the employee since not all treaties require Form 8233 to be completed and signed. The FNIS application is used to determine tax treaty and/or exemption eligibility.

2. Completing the FNIS Application

The FNIS application is pre-populated with certain information from Workday, but this information is not always correct. If the pre-populated information is applicable but incorrect, update it so the information is as accurate as possible.

The application should be completed with as much detail as possible. Some questions on the application include a question bubble with helpful information. If still unsure, contact Payroll at Once the FNIS application is submitted, Payroll will review and contact the employee via email for any corrections or additional information.

Contact Payroll at and request that the application be sent back for review.

FNIS Application: Page One

The required fields are:

  • First and Last Name
  • Social Security Number
  • Institution-Assigned ID Number
  • Student Type
  • Trainee Type
  • Department at Institution
  • Occupation at Institution

The only ID fields required to process the application are the Social Security Number field and the Institution-Assigned ID Number field. The institutional-assigned ID number is the CMU Human Resources ID, which should be pre-populated based on the employee’s Workday profile in the FNIS application and should not be edited. The other ID fields may remain blank.

The Department at Institution is the department where the employee works, not the department in which they take classes. The Occupation at Institution is the employee’s job title (e.g., teaching assistant, resident assistant, researcher, usher, etc.). This information may be found on their offer letter.

FNIS Application: Page Two

The required fields are:

  • Date of Birth

  • Marital Status & Related Questions

  • Number of Dependents

  • Phone Number

  • Email Address

The three dependent fields pre-populate with 99 as a default and do not need to be corrected unless the statements to the left of the fields apply to the employee. If the employee is a resident of one of the countries listed and they have qualifying dependents, they should enter the correct number of dependents, as they may be able to claim exemptions when they file their taxes.

This field is not required, but the employee may enter the first date on their earliest visa.

FNIS Application: Page Three

The required fields are:

  • U.S. Address

  • Foreign Residence Address

The U.S. address must be a valid local mailing address. Employees living on campus may list their student mail code (SMC) box address (5032 Forbes Avenue). Do not list the 5000 Forbes Avenue address.

FNIS Application: Page Four

The required fields are:

  • Country of Passport/Citizenship
  • Passport Number
  • Passport Expiration Date
  • U.S. Citizen Question
  • Country of Tax Residence
  • Other Information Questions

This is the country in which the employee was a tax resident during their visit to the U.S. or immediately before coming to the U.S. for this visit. For most, this will be the same as the employee’s country of citizenship even if the employee was not taxed while residing in that country. Country of tax residence determines the applicable tax treaty that may be applied to reduce taxes on U.S. income.

FNIS Application: Page Five

The required fields are:

  • Current and previous immigration status information:
    • Immigration Status
    • J Subcategory
    • Primary Purpose of Visit
    • Tax Residence Country Before Entering U.S.
    • Visa Number
    • First and Last Day in U.S. in this Status

It is recommended that the employee list their comprehensive immigration status history. The employee should list all immigration statuses within the past three calendar years, including B-1 and B-2 statuses, and all previous and current F, J, M, Q and H-1B immigration statuses since Jan. 1, 1985.

The dates listed should match the employee’s actual physical presence in the U.S. as accurately as possible in order for the Substantial Presence Test (SPT) to return an accurate analysis. The employee may list the program start and/or end dates from their immigration status documentation if they do not remember the exact dates.

For J-1 visa holders, the subcategory will be listed in box four on the DS-2019.

Generally this is the red number on the bottom right side of the visa sticker in passports.

Residents of Canada or Mexico and H1-B visa holders may not have a visa sticker in their passport. If this is the case, use the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) ID or any applicable visa number in this field.

F-1 and J-1 recipients generally have a SEVIS ID number, which starts with the letter N and can be found on the I-20 (top left hand side) and on the DS-2019 (top right hand side). If there is not a SEVIS ID, leave this field blank.

FNIS Application: Page Six

The required field is:

  • Confirmation

No, but the employee may submit it anyway.

No, the HR Service Center does not need a printed copy, but the employee can print it for their records.

3. After the FNIS Application is Complete

Once the application is reviewed and processed, Payroll will send an email with the results. This typically takes one to two weeks from the time the completed application is received. The employee will be alerted via email if they are required sign a packet at the HR Service Center. 

Once tax treaties are signed and processed by Payroll, they will be applied to pay in Workday through the end of the calendar year within treaty guidelines. Since treaty benefits and exemptions do not automatically carry over into the next calendar year, the FNIS application process must be completed once per year while employed at CMU.

Non-resident alien students/business trainees from India who are offered Article 21 benefits are exempt from the additional non-resident alien amount added to gross wages when calculating federal income withholding tax. This exemption is applied manually by Payroll Services to the employee’s current Form W-4 on file in Workday.

Only employees who qualified for a tax treaty will have a packet to sign.

The Substantial Presence Test (SPT) determines residency status based on the immigration status information provided by the employee in their FNIS application. Student/trainee immigration status holders generally have five calendar years as NRA, while teacher/researcher immigration status holders generally have two calendar years as NRA. If the application requires corrections, contact Payroll at  and request that the application be sent back for review to ensure all previous and current immigration status information was included.

Typically within one or two pay cycles if the employee qualified for a tax treaty or exemption. This is subject to the same deadlines as any other payroll transaction.  

Payroll can reimburse over-withheld FICA taxes (OASDI and Medicare) for non-resident aliens only if the FNIS process was completed. Payroll cannot reimburse federal withholding tax. Tax treaties cannot be applied to pay retroactively. If the IRS determines that a refund of federal withholding is owed, they may issue that after taxes are filed in the spring for the previous year.

A high salary figure is used to trigger retroactive clauses within certain tax treaties with income and time limitations in order to avoid tax penalties for those employees. CMU does not offer tax treaties that include a retroactive clause.

If the address was submitted incorrectly, contact Payroll at and request the application be sent back to review and correct. It is important for the employee to correct the address if they are a treaty recipient and are required to sign a packet at the HR Service Center, mostly for 1042–S purposes.

Non-resident aliens must answer “Yes” to the prerequisite question in CIC Plus about being a non-resident alien and “No” to the question about claiming a tax treaty withholding exemption. Tax treaties are addressed through the Foreign National Information System (FNIS). This will populate the Form W-4 with the correct parameters per Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidelines, including the single marital status (regardless of their actual marital status). Non-resident aliens cannot claim exempt status or the child tax credit or credit for other dependents in Step 3 of the Form W-4 unless they are a resident of Canada, Mexico, South Korea, or a student/business trainee from India (see IRS Notice 1392 for more information).

Resident aliens can complete their Form W-4 as they wish, just like U.S. citizens. 

Visa types, length of stay, other sources of income, and types of jobs will impact tax rates. If there is an issue or error with the tax rate, contact Payroll at Payroll is not permitted to discuss the tax obligations of other employees. 

Only employees who accepted treaty benefits by signing a Form 8233 or Form W-9 will receive a Form 1042-S from CMU in the mail in mid-February. Article 21 benefit recipients will not receive a Form 1042-S since all of their wages will be reported on their W-2.