All nonimmigrants are required to file some sort of tax form, even if they owe no taxes or earn no income in the U.S. during their stay. Foreign nationals in the United States are required to comply with all laws governing them during their stay in the U.S., including the filing of appropriate tax forms. While the immigration regulations are the laws that first come to mind, the tax regulations can not be ignored.

The IRS holds you accountable for understanding and complying with your federal income tax responsibilities. IRS requirements may feel unfair, or complicated, but failure to comply with the law could result in fines or in denial of immigration benefits.

The Office of International Student and Scholar Services cannot offer tax advice. They are not experts in tax law. They will not assist you in completing your tax forms. Please refer to Sprintax to address any tax issues.



Who Must File Tax Forms for 2019 Tax Season? 

If you were physically in the U.S. in F or J status anytime between January 1 - December 31, 2019, you are obligated to send one form, Form 8843, to the U.S. tax agency IRS (Internal Revenue Service), even if you had no income. For the 2019 tax season, if you earn over $0 of US source income, you may need to file a federal tax return with the IRS. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may also need to file a state tax return(s). 


Tax Filing Deadline: 

April 15th, 2020 is the last day for residents and non-residents who earned U.S. income to file Federal tax returns for 2019. 


Resident or Non-Resident for Federal Tax Purposes: 

Generally, most international students & scholars who are on F, J, M or Q visas are considered non-residents for tax purposes. International undergraduate students on J1 & F1 visas are automatically considered non-resident for their first 5 calendar years in the U.S., whilst scholars/researchers on J visas are automatically considered non-residents for 2 out of the last 6 calendar years in the U.S. If you have been in the U.S. for longer than the 5 or 2 year periods, the Substantial Presence Test will determine your tax residency. 


How to File: 

We have teamed up with Sprintax to provide you with easy-to-use tax preparation software designed for non-resident students and scholars in the U.S. We (and all other university staff) are not qualified or allowed to provide individual tax advice. 

After you login to Sprintax, it will ask you a series of questions about the time you have spent in the U.S. and in which immigration status, looking back over a period of years. Sprintax will then determine your tax status. If it determines that you are a "nonresident alien" (NRA) for federal tax purposes, you can continue to use it to respond to a series of guided questions. Sprintax will complete and generate the forms you need to print, sign, and mail to the IRS. If it determines you are a resident alien for federal tax purposes, you won't be able to continue using the software. 


Step by Step Guid on How to File Your Non-Resident Tax Forms (F and J) 


 1) Gather the documents you may need for Sprintax

Document Description
Visa/Immigration information, including form I-20 (F status) or form DS-2019 (J status) 
Social Security or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (If you have one) This is not needed if you had no income and the 8843 is the only form you have to file. 
✔* W-2  This form reports your wage earnings if you worked. If you had more than one employer you should get a W-2 from each employer. It is issued by the end of January for the previous year. Make sure all employers from last year have an up-to-date address for you. 
✔* 1042-S

This form is used to report: 

  1. stipend, scholarship, fellowship income and travel grants (not tuition reduction or exemption) 
  2. income covered by a tax treaty
  3. payment for other types of services (e.g. by the semester as a note-taker) 

If you received this type of income, the 1042-S will be mailed to you by March 16th by the payer. 

NOTE: Only NonResident Aliens receive this form. If your tax status changes to a Resident Alien you will not get a 1042-S. Login to Sprintax to check your tax status if you are not sure.   

U.S. entry and exit dates for current and past visits to the U.S.  In addition to passport stamps, you can review or print your U.S. travel history here.
✔* 1099 This form reports miscellaneous income. Can be interest on bank accounts, stocks, bonds, dividends, earning through freelance employment. 
x 1098-T This form is NOT needed and can NOT be used for a nonresident tax return because NRAs are NOT eligible to claim education expense tax credits. 

2) Create a Sprintax Account

You will receive an email from the international student office office providing you with a link to Sprintax to set up your account as well as your unique code to use on Sprintax. This unique code will cover the costs of the federal tax return and 8843 at no cost to you. Open your new Sprintax account by creating a User ID and password or if you have an existing account on Sprintax you can log in using your existing credentials. 

3) Follow the Sprintax Instructions

If you had NO U.S. income: Sprintax will generate a completed Form 8843 for you and each of your dependents (if you have any). 

With U.S. income: Sprintax will generate your "tax return documents", including either a 1040NR-EZ or a longer form 1040 NR, depending on your circumstances. 

4) (With U.S. income only) If required, complete your state tax return

After you finish your federal return, Sprintax will inform you if you need to complete a state tax return. If so, they will give you the option to use Sprintax for an individual fee. However, it is your choise to use them or to do the state tax return on your own. 

5) Mail your completed federal and/or state forms to IRS and/or state tax authorities

Remember to read the mailing instructions that Sprintax provides. If you have dependents, each one must mail their 8843 in a separate envelope. 

Need Sprintax Support? 

If you need help while using Sprintax, contact them: 

24/7 Live Chat Help

Refer to their FAQs 

Email at 

Sprintax Education Tax Video and Blog:

You also have aceess to the Springtax youTube account where there are a number of educational videos on non-resident texes to provide further clarity on the subject of using Sprintax and non-resident tax. There is also a Sprintax Blog which goes through tax related topics and can be of use to you. 

The Economic Impact Payment

The U.S. government is providing stimulus checks for qualifying recipients as an effort to provide economic relief. We understand that most of our international students are not eligible; however some might qualify for these stimulus payments if you were a U.S. resident for Tax Purposes (not the same as permanent resident with a green card) by the previous tax year.  

Below is the summary of those for the Economic Impact Payment.  

  1. US Residents for tax purposes
  2. Adjusted Gross Income between $75,000 and $99,00 (increasing for head of household and married filing jointly)
  3. Valid Social Security Number
  4. Not claimed as dependent on someone else’s return

For more information, visit the IRS Economic Impact Payment pages:

Some students might receive the check by accident. One reason why such an error could occur is because students might have filed the taxes incorrectly – filing the taxes as a resident instead of as a nonresident alien. In this case, it is important that students correct their previous tax returns and return the check to the U.S. government. Please click here for further instructions on how to return an Economic Impact Payment. 

We recommend that students watch the following Sprintax webinar to find out further details on the eligibility as well as their recommendations on what to do when receiving the check by accident.

Sprintax Webinar Recording on the Stimulus Payment and Amended Returns

DISCLAIMER: International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) and the school are NOT permitted to assist any student/scholar with any IRS tax form preparation or tax related questions. The information provided is intnded for your benefit. Any questions or concerns should be directed to Sprintax, a certified tax preparer or a local IRS field office.