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Visa Residency status is NOT the same as Tax Residency status. If you were in the U.S. for even 1 day in the tax year and had no U.S. earned income or scholarships, you still must file.

Do I Need to File?


A Resident Alien is... an alien who has passed the Green Card Testor the Substantial Presence Test.

A Nonresident Alien is... an alien who has not passed the Green Card Testor the Substantial Presence Test.

Determining Alien Status

                                                                   Applicable Tax Forms

Form Description More About the Form
Form 1040-NR  U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return About Form 1040-NR
Form 1040-NR-EZ U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Nonresident Aliens With No Dependents About Form 1040-NR-EZ
Form 4868 Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return About Form 4868
Form 8233 Exemption From Withholding on Compensation for Independent (and Certain Dependent) Personal Services of a Nonresident Alien Individual About Form 8233
Form 8833 Treaty-Based Return Position Disclosure Under Section 6114 or 7701(b) About Form 8833
Form 8840 Closer Connection Exception Statement for Aliens About Form 8840
Form 8843 Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition About Form 8843
Prior Year Forms Prior Year Forms, Instructions & Publications Search Popular Prior Year Forms, Instructions & Publications
Form W-7 Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) About Form W-7
Form W-8BEN Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting (Individuals) About Form W-8BEN
Form W-9 Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification About Form W-9

                                                                                                                                                                 Which Form to File?

Tax Treaties

The United States has income tax treaties with a number of foreign countries. Under these treaties, residents (not necessarily citizens) of foreign countries may be eligible to be taxed at a reduced rate or exempt from U.S. income taxes on certain items of income they receive from sources within the United States. These reduced rates and exemptions vary among countries and specific items of income.

U.S. Income Tax Treaties - A to Z

Form W-8BEN

Form 1042-S

If you are from a country which has a tax treaty with the U.S., or you received a U.S. based scholarship or fellowship, you may also receive Form 1042-S in addition to a W-2. This form is generally mailed around March 15th. You will need to have both forms before you can file your taxes.

Tax Treaties

Tax Treaty Tables

About Publication 901

Teaching Assistant (TA), Graduate Assistant (GA) or Research Project Assistant (RPA)

TA, GA or RPA salary payments are not considered scholarships or fellowships. Only those students who had bona fide scholarships or fellowships may deduct expenses paid for tuition, books and fees.

Income from TA, GA and RPA positions and tuition remission is considered earned income and is taxable.


Received a U.S. based scholarship or fellowships?

If you received a U.S. based scholarship or fellowship, you may also receive Form 1042-S. This form is generally mailed around March 15th. You will need to have both forms before you can file your taxes.

Students with bona fide scholarships or fellowships (no work was required as a condition of receiving the award) may deduct expenses paid for tuition, books and fees up to the amount of the scholarship/fellowship.

Failed to File Taxes?

Penalties & Interest

If you owe taxes and don't file, the IRS can assess penalty and interest and seize U.S. bank assets for repayment. Fines and penalties can often amount to more than the original tax debt.

Immigration Consequences

There can also be immigration consequences for failing to file taxes. Applicants for permanent residency "green cards" are frequently asked to show proof of tax filing for previous years in the U.S.

Missed the Deadline?

A U.S. citizen or resident can file Form 4868to request an automatic extension of time to file a U.S. individual income tax return.  

About Form 4868.

Request an Extension with Payment

If you owe any taxes, you must still mail your tax payment by the deadline or you will be assessed a penalty and interest as of the deadline. Therefore, along with your check made payable to the United States Treasury, sign and date Form 4868and mail it to: 

Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 931300,
Louisville, KY 40293-1300

For additional payment & mailing questions, see Page 3 & 4 of Form 4868

Request an Extension without Payment

If you don't owe any taxes, sign and date Form 4868and mail it to: 

Dept. of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Kansas City, MO 64999-0045

For additional mailing questions, see Page 4 of Form 4868

Always keep copies of your tax return, W-2, 1042-S, 1099 bank interest statements and any other pertinent forms as proof that you have filed. The IRS can audit individual returns for up to 3 years following the filing deadline and your tax records are essential in proving your case.

Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TIN)

A Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) is an identification number used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the administration of tax laws. It is issued either by the Social Security Administration (SSA) or by the IRS. A Social Security number (SSN) is issued by the SSA whereas all other TINs are issued by the IRS.

Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TIN’s) for Foreign Students and Scholars

Generally, aliens may apply for either aSocial Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for use on tax related documents.

Generally, aliens who enter the United States in an immigration status which allows them to be employed in the United States under specific circumstances under U.S. immigration law are eligible to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN ) from the Social Security Administration.

Most foreign students and scholars in F-1, J-1, M-1, Q-1, and Q-2 nonimmigrant status are eligible to be employed in the United States, and are therefore eligible to apply for an SSN if they are actually employed in the United States.

Aliens who are not eligible to apply for a U.S. Social Security Number, or who do not meet the Social Security Administration's evidence requirements for an SSN, may apply for anIndividual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) from the Internal Revenue Service if they have a valid tax reason for needing an ITIN, as explained in the Form W-7 Instructions.

Apply for an ITIN

Use Form W-7 (in English) or Form W-7SP (in Spanish) to apply for an ITIN. Please refer to IRS Publication 1915 (PDF) for a more detailed explanation of ITINs.

Frequently Asked Questions