To determine if you are a resident or non-resident alien for tax purposes, take the “Substantial Presence Test.” If you are a non-resident for taxes, proceed with these instructions.
Students and Instructors who earned NO Income
All nonresident aliens present in the U.S. under F-1 or J-1 nonimmigrant status must file Form 8843 “Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals With a Medical Condition”—even if they received NO income last year. Form 8843 must be filed if an individual is:
- present in the U.S. last year
- a nonresident alien
- present in the U.S. under F-1 or J-1 status
If an individual meets all three qualifications above, the individual must file Form 8843, regardless of the individual’s age and even if the individual is not required to file a U.S. income tax return (Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ).
Deadline: must be mailed by April 15
- Blank Form 8843
- Filing Instructions for Form 8843: Students and (VLCs)
- Filing Instructions for Form 8843: Instructors (VLIs)
- Complete and mail by deadline. Save a copy for 7 years for audit purposes.
Students and Instructors who earned income last year
If you earned income last year, you may want to file federal and state tax returns. You are required to file a federal income tax return only if your U.S. wages are more than the personal exemption amount (see IRS Taxation of Nonresident Aliens).
1. Online Tax Preparation Programs
Two programs that are specifically designed for non-resident aliens are listed below. These programs charge a fee, payable by you. In many cases, these programs simplify the filing process, and we highly recommend either one.
2. Tax Forms (if you prefer to prepare by hand)
Federal tax forms:
- 1040NR (and instructions)
- 1040NR-EZ (and instructions)
- U.S. Tax Treaties IRS Publication 901
- Deadline: must be mailed by April 15
- Make sure you include your form 8843 with your 1040NR!
Virginia state tax forms:
- Form 760: if you were a resident of Virginia more than half of 2017
- Form 760PY: if you were a resident of Virginia for less than half of 2017
- Deadline: must be mailed by May 1
Documents to get started
No matter which filing option you choose, you will need these documents:
- Passport, I-94 record, and DS-2019 or I-20
- W-2, a tax statement sent by your employer that states how much you earned and how much you paid in taxes.
- Last year’s U.S. tax return (if you have one)
- List of dates of trips outside the U.S. since you arrived to the U.S. Check the stamps in your passport, or look up your travel history via the electronic Arrival/Departure I-94 website.
Please note that CIE does not give tax advice, does not guarantee, and is not responsible for any final tax results. It is the responsibility of each international student and instructor to comply with U.S. tax regulations. While we offer tax information in the form of resources, CIE is not trained to provide tax advice and disclaims all liability stemming from the misinterpretation or misuse of the resources offered.