Non-Resident Alien vs Resident Alien


Non-Resident Information

For tax purposes,  a non-resident alien is a person who is not a US citizen and who has not met the “substantial presence test” or is not a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States (green card test).

The University Tax Department will determine if the person is a nonresident alien based on information provided in their International Tax Questionnaire. The following are some guidelines to use for international students and visitors:

  • Generally, F-1 and J-1 student visa holders are considered nonresident aliens for any part of the first five calendar years they are present in the US.
  • J-1 nonstudent visa holders (professors, researchers, etc) are generally considered nonresident aliens for any part of the first two calendar years they are in the US in that visa status.
  • During the time that an international person is considered to be a nonresident alien for tax purposes if employed, the W-4 can only reflect a “single” status with a maximum of 1 allowance.  Even if the international person is married or head of household, tax regulations require that the tax withholding be at the “Single, 1 Allowance” rate.
  • Wages earned by nonresident alien employees present on J-1 or F-1 visas are not subject to the 7.65% social security and Medicare taxes (FICA taxes).
  • Nonresident aliens will need to complete an annual tax return, Form 1040NR.  They may receive a W-2 or a 1042-S form reporting their taxable income and taxes withheld.

Resident Alien Information

A resident alien for tax purposes is a person who is not a US citizen and who meets either the “green card” test or the “substantial presence test” as described in IRS Publication 519.  The University Tax Department will determine if the person is a resident alien based on information provided in their International Tax Questionnaire.

  • Resident aliens are subject to the same tax withholding rules that apply to US citizens
  • Resident aliens are subject to social security and Medicare taxes (FICA taxes)
  • Resident aliens file annual tax return Form 1040