The F-1 Visa – Privileged U.S. Tax Status And How To Keep It

Published: 06/29/2018


Foreign students leaving their home country and arriving in the U.S. for higher education may come across many things that seem alien to them – like the accent, culture, (inexplicably large) food portions, etc. But one area where they are treated as the aliens is under U.S. Federal income tax law. Foreign students who arrive in the U.S. on an F-1 visa (i.e., student visa) are treated as nonresident aliens and subject to special tax provisions. This article discusses the residency status of foreign students on an F-1 visa, Federal income tax consequences, and U.S. reporting requirements.

An individual is treated as a U.S. resident if he or she meets either the "Green Card Test" or "Substantial Presence Test."1

Green Card Test
An individual who holds a permanent resident card (more commonly known as a Green Card) is treated as a U.S. resident for Federal income tax purposes. 2

Substantial Presence Test
An individual who is neither a U.S. citizen nor a Green Card holder is treated as a U.S. resident if he or she satisfies the Substantial Presence Test. The Substantial Presence Test is satisfied for a relevant year if the following conditions are met:3

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