Foreign Student/Foreign Scholar Filing Requirements for U.S. Federal Income Tax
This information is for students in F-1 and J-1 status and scholars in J-1, and it is intended to provide you with a general overview of the US Income Tax filing requirements and the services that we provide at the Office of International Students and Scholars.
NSU does not give tax advice and does not guarantee nor are we responsible for any final tax results. It is the responsibility of each international student, scholar and dependent to comply with U.S. tax regulations. We offer information in the form of resources; however, our staff is not trained to give any tax advice and we disclaim any liability caused by any misinterpretation or misuse of the resources at the student's disposal.
To determine if you need to file a return, please visit the IRS website by clicking on the following link:
To assist you with your IRS filing requirements, the Office of International Students and Scholars offers you the opportunity to use GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP) Online Tax Return Preparation System.
GTP will guide the F1 or J1 visa holder through the process of tax filing in the United States.
First, GLACIER will ask some questions to determine how the United States defines your presence for tax purposes. Based on your answers, GLACIER can determine what forms you must file and can even determine if you're eligible for treaty benefits.
Next, GLACIER Tax Prep will guide you through the process to complete and print the required forms to send to the IRS (nonresident aliens cannot electronically file a tax return).
- Calculates the substantial presence test to determine the foreign national's U.S. residency status
- Checks each type of payment against any applicable tax treaty to ensure that the individual takes advantage of any tax treaty benefits
- Checks to see if the individual is eligible for "away-from-home" expenses
- Completes the correct U.S. income tax form - either Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ
- Prepares any additional statements or attachments, as applicable - Form 2106, Form 8843, Schedule C, and/or Scholarship/Fellowship Grant Statement
- Prints the tax return and all additional attachments (please note, the IRS does not allow nonresident aliens to file a tax return electronically)
- Provides detailed instructions about how, when, and where to submit the tax return, as well as information about the documents necessary to attach and complete the tax return filing process
Have the following information or documents on hand prior to using Glacier Tax Prep:
- Visa/Immigration Status Information, including Form DS-2019 (if J status) or Form I-20 (if F status)
- Social Security or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (if you have been assigned one)
- U.S. Entry and Exit Dates for current and past visits to the U.S.
- Forms W-2, 1042-S and/or 1099 (if you received any)
If your tax situation is complex, seek the aid of a professional tax preparer. Unfortunately, there are relatively few preparers who have experience in preparing returns for foreign nationals. Be sure to ask prospective preparers if they are familiar with Form 1040NR and the rules applicable to F-1 and J-1 visa holders. Do not engage a preparer who is not. The professional designations of "Certified Public Accountant" or "Enrolled Agent" are indications of a preparer's competency, but are not guarantees. Most tax preparers charge on a per hour basis rather than a fixed fee. If a preparer will not state an exact fee in advance, you should at least be told the maximum amount that you might have to pay. Even if you are planning to hire a preparer, it's best to learn as much as you can on your own.
The first thing you must do is to determine whether you are a resident, a nonresident, or a dual status alien for tax purposes. These titles do not relate to your immigration status. Even though you are a citizen of another country, you might still be considered a U.S. resident for U.S. tax purposes. This is an important first step because it determines whether you must file, what form to file, and whether you are eligible for treaty benefits. The first few pages of IRS Publication 519 explain how to determine your residency status.
If you determine that you are a nonresident or a dual status alien, most information you will need to complete your nonresident return is contained in two U.S. Internal Revenue Service booklets and the instructions to forms 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ. The IRS booklets are Publication 519 (U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens) and Publication 901 (U.S. Tax Treaties). If you are a resident of Canada, you will also find Publication 597 (Information on the United States-Canada Income Tax Treaty) helpful. All of this material can be obtained from the IRS Web site at Forms and Publications. Here is a complete list of all the forms and publications you should need.
- Form 1040NR and Instructions or Form 1040NR-EZ and Instructions
- Form 8843
- Form 843 (for improperly withheld social security tax)
- Publication 519
- Publication 901
- Publication 597 (if you are from Canada)
Reading the first page of the instructions to Form 1040NR-EZ will tell you if you can use this shorter form. If you do not qualify, use Form 1040NR.
The staff at the Office of International Students and Scholars does NOT give tax advice. For detailed tax information, please go to the Internal Revenue Service web site or call 1-800-829-1040.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please be advised that NSU cannot provide any kind of tax advice, tax consultation, or tax preparation assistance to you. You must prepare and file the appropriate IRS forms yourself, or seek the advice and assistance of a professional tax consultant if you are unable to complete the forms on your own. Please also note that tax liability is different for each of you depending on your specific country of origin or income situation. Consequently, you should be careful to only seek advice from a tax professional and not rely on information given to you by a friend or colleague.