U.S. employers are required to withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes from wages earned in the U.S. Individuals in F-1, J-1, M-1 or Q-1 status are exempt from these withholding as long are they are considered nonresident aliens for tax purposes.

J-1 scholars (professors, research scholars, short term scholars, specialists) are exempt from these taxes for 2 calendar years. Please note that these 2 years correspond with the 2 years that the individual is exempt from the Substantial presence test. A J-1 scholar who initially enters the U.S. in December, uses up one year of exemption from FICA taxes. The exemption from FICA taxes also ends when the individual becomes a resident for tax purposes or changes status to another nonimmigrant classification.

J-2 Dependents who have obtained work permission from the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Service are not exempt from FICA taxes.

Getting a refund of Social Security Taxes

You should try to obtain a refund from your employer first. However, if you need file a Form 843, you should provide the following explanation in Item #5 of form:

I am a nonresident alien student on an F-1 (or J-1) visa. Section 3121(b)(19) of the Internal Revenue Code and the regulations thereunder state that a nonresident alien student on an F-1 (or J-1) visa is not liable for paying Social Security and Medicare taxes on his wages for as long as he is a nonresident alien under residency rules stated in Section 7701(b) of the Internal Revenue Code. I state that for calendar year ____ I was a nonresident alien student and not liable for the Social Security and Medicare tax. I hereby ask for a refund of the Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld from my wages. I have asked my employer for a refund of these taxes and have been refused.


  • Form W-2 showing tax withheld in boxes 4 and 6
  • Copy of I-94
  • Copy of I-20 or DS-2019
  • Form 8316, Request for refund of Social Security taxes for F, J, and M status holders