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FAQ > Are there disadvantages to consider when applying for an ITIN for a non-citizen spouse?

If you are a U.S. citizen and are married to a nonresident or non-citizen spouse, you must file a tax return with the default married status that you file separately unless you choose to file a joint tax return. The joint election-presentation is made by attaching a tax return to your tax return that is signed by you and your spouse. The disadvantages of not choosing to file a joint tax return is that you will have to pay taxes at a higher rate and may not be able to claim all the deductions that apply to you. To avoid the inconvenience of not filing a joint tax return, your spouse must meet the requirements to apply for ITIN status as your dependent.

If your noncitizen or nonresident spouse did not earn any income during the year you may either file a separate tax return or file that head of household. Your spouse may also file an IRS Form W-7 to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to claim your spouse as a dependent. This is possible if more than half of your household's living expenses are provided, including expenses on behalf of your spouse, dependents and living relatives. To receive all allowable deductions, your spouse and dependents must have a valid ITIN.

How long will it take for my spouse to receive an ITIN?

After submitting all the necessary information and providing the appropriate documents to verify your spouse's identity and alien status, it may take between six and eight weeks to receive an ITIN in the mail.

To check your spouse's ITIN filing after filing the ITIN application:

  • In the U.S., call the IRS hotline at 1-800-829-1040.
  • Outside the U.S., call 1-267-941-1000.

Avoid guesswork

ITIN W-7 The application provides a way to request an ITIN so there are no guesswork. Visit our W-7 ITIN instructions for more information on how to obtain an ITIN for your spouse and dependents. Our support team will help you and help ensure the ITIN application process does not have problems.

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