Information on Income Tax for International Students


Information on Income Tax for International Students (download PDF)

The following information has been prepared to inform international students about tax obligations in the United States.  Since tax liability depends on person circumstances, you, the student, are ultimately responsible for determining your specific tax obligations.


Who must file a tax return?
ALL F and J visa holders are REQUIRED to file Federal Income Tax forms, whether or not they earned money. 

Wages and Salaries
All employers are required to deduct or “withhold” applicable federal, state and city taxes from paychecks.  Your Social Security Number (SSN) records these “withholdings.”  The payroll office or your employer will determine the appropriate amount of tax to be withheld from each check.  At the end of every year, anyone who was employed will receive a W-2 Form her or his employer.  This form totals the income paid and taxes withheld for the calendar year.  The amount of wages (or salary) you received is shown in Box 1.  From this W-2 Form, you can determine if you owe additional tax or if the U.S. government or the state owes you a refund by checking the tax table in the 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ Instruction Book.

Federal Income Tax Forms
If F or J visa holders earned income from a U.S. source, form 1040NR-EZ (or 1040NR) AND form 8843 MUST be filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for federal income tax.   The due date to submit this form is April 15.  (Don’t forget, you MUST also enclose a copy of your form W-2).

If F and J visa holders have not earned income from a U.S. source, submit Form 8843 ONLY.
The due date to submit this form is June 15.

New York State/City Income Tax Forms
Some non-resident F and J visa holders may be required to file a form IT-203 (state) and a form NYC-203 (city).  Anyone who received income from a New York source should determine whether or not it is necessary to file.  (Don’t forger, you MUST send a copy of the W-2 with your income tax return).

Students who were employed outside of N.Y State or live in once state and work in another (New Jersey, Connecticut, etc.) may be required to file a tax return for both states.


Resident or Non-Resident
The IRS’s definition of “resident” and “non-resident” differs from that of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  Students on F or J visas who comply with the requirements of their visas are usually considered “non-resident” for tax purposes for up to five years. 



Social Security (F.I.C.A.) Withholdings
Non-Residents in F or J status are exempt from Social Security (F.I.C.A.) withholdings if the income if received for services performed to carry out the purpose for which the alien was admitted to the U.S.  This includes employment pursuant to a scholarship, fellowship, assistantship, or other grant, or approved on- and off-campus employment [26 U.S.C.3132 (b) (191)].  However, students who have been on F visas for over five years and are not from countries covered by tax treaties (two years for J visa holders) are subject to social security tax unless they can prove to the IRS that they do not intend to stay in the U.S.

If you have questions regarding the 1040NR-EZ (or 1040NR) form, call 1-800-829-1040; for New York State IT-203 form, call 1-800-225-5829.  Ask to speak with a specialist in matters concerning “foreign national taxpayers” (if available).

For complex situations it is advisable to consult a tax attorney, a Certified Public Accountant, or another reputable tax advisor who is familiar with non-resident taxation


Before submitting your Income Tax Returns,

staple one page of your W-2 to your Return and

MAKE A COPY OF EVERYTHING for your records.


For more information or clarification, refer to Publication 519,  Tax Guide for Aliens on  If the tax information you need relation to this topic is not addressed in Publication 519, you may call the IRS International Tax Law Hotline at 1-215-516-2000.


All forms are available in the Office of International Programs and Services