Your individual situation determines which form(s) you need to file. Forms come with instructions.
1040NR or 1040?
Are you a Resident or Nonresident for Tax Purposes?
In legal terms, non-citizens of the U.S. are called “aliens.” There are three types of aliens for tax purposes: nonresident, dual-status, and resident. These categories are for tax purposes only and are not related to your immigration status. You may be in F-1 or nonimmigrant status and considered a resident for tax purposes.
Substantial Presence: Nonresident aliens generally meet the substantial presence test if they have spent more than 183 days in the United States. Having substantial presence in the United States generally means you will be considered a resident alien for tax purposes.
Exempt Individual: Any person who is temporarily exempt from the substantial presence test. Time spent in this category does not count toward the 183 days in the United States that normally will convert a nonresident alien into resident alien for tax purposes. F-1 students maintaining status are exempt from the “substantial presence” test for five years.
More information and instructions for the substantial presence test can be found online.
1040NR-EZ or 1040NR?
From Chapter 7: Filing Information, Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens:
You can use the 1040NR-EZ if all the following conditions are met:
You do not claim any dependents.
You cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s U.S. tax return.
If you were married, you cannot claim an exemption for your spouse.
Your taxable income is less than $100,000.
You are not claiming any itemized deductions (other than for state and local income taxes).
Your only U.S. source income is from wages, salaries, tips, taxable refunds of state and local income taxes, and scholarship or fellowship grants. (If you had taxable interest or dividend income, you cannot use this form.)
You are not claiming any adjustments to income other than the student loan interest deduction or scholarship and fellowship grants excluded.
You are not claiming any credits.
The only taxes you owe are:
- The income tax from the Tax Table.
- The social security and Medicare tax on tip income not reported to your employer.
You are not claiming a credit for excess social security and tier 1 RRTA tax withheld.
This is not an “expatriation return.” See instructions for Form 1040NR for more information.
If you do not meet all of the above conditions, you must file Form 1040NR.
Certain individuals with no income must file Form 8843.
Who must file Form 8843?
All nonresident aliens who are present in the United States under an F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, M-1, M-2, Q-1, or Q-2 immigration status must file Form 8843 “Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals With a Medical Condition”—even if they received no income. Form 8843 must be filed if an individual is:
- Present in the U.S.
- A nonresident alien and
- Present in the U.S. under an F, J, M, or Q immigration status (either the “-1” or the “-2”)
What is Form 8843?
Form 8843 is not an income tax return. Form 8843 is merely an informational statement required by the U.S. government for certain nonresident aliens (including the spouses or dependents of nonresident aliens).
Do I need a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to file Form 8843?
Generally, no. Nonresident aliens who are not required to file an income tax return (Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ), but who are required to file Form 8843, need not apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). If, however, an SSN or ITIN has been assigned, the number must be included on Form 8843.
An exception to this rule is for individuals who can be claimed as dependents on a U.S. income tax return. Such individuals must have an SSN or ITIN. Only nonresident aliens from a very limited number of countries may claim an exemption for their dependents on their U.S. income tax return (Form 1040NR). In such a case, any dependent who is claimed must have a SSN or ITIN. An exemption for spouse and/or dependents is only applicable if the country of tax residence is:
How do I submit Form 8843?
If you are required to file an income tax return (Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ), attach Form 8843 to the back of the tax return. If Form 8843 is for a spouse or dependent eligible to be claimed as a dependent on a federal tax return, Form 8843 must be attached to the back of the tax return on which they are claimed. If Form 8843 is not filed in connection with a federal tax return, the form must be sent by June 15 to Internal Revenue Service Center, Philadelphia, PA 19255 (if outside the U.S.) or Revenue Service Center, Austin, TX 73301-0215 (if inside the U.S.). Please note that each individual who files Form 8843 must send the form separately from any other form or anyone else’s forms.