Nonresident vs. Resident for Tax Purposes

Why is Tax Residency Important?

Your tax residency (whether you are a nonresident alien or a resident alien for tax purposes) determines how you are taxed and which tax forms you need to fill out. You can find out more about tax residency on the IRS "Introduction to Residency Under U.S. Tax Law" page and in IRS Publication 519 (available on the IRS website).

Your Tax Residency Status

In general, students in F or J status are considered nonresident aliens for tax purposes for the first five calendar years of their stay in the U.S. Scholars in J status are considered nonresident aliens for tax purposes for the first two calendar years of their stay. Please note that this is a general guideline only. If you want to accurately determine your tax residency status, please see the "Resources to Determine Your Tax Filing Status" section below.

Tax residency status can be reclassified after a period of time. It's important to know your tax filing status so you can complete the correct tax forms.

What does "Resident" mean?

Most F and J students and scholars are nonresident aliens for tax purposes; however, a few are considered "residents" or "resident aliens." Please note that "resident for tax purposes" is only a tax filing status. It does not mean that you are a resident by other definitions. Being a "resident" for tax purposes is NOT the same as being a resident for tuition purposes or a U.S. permanent resident (green hard holder). 

Resources to Determine Your Tax Residency Status

You can quickly find out your residency by completing a few questions on GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP). The GLACIER Tax Prep program will ask you a series of questions to determine your residency status for federal tax filing purposes. If GLACIER Tax Prep determines that you are a nonresident alien for tax purposes, you can proceed to use GLACIER Tax Prep to complete the federal (not state) tax forms. If you qualify as a resident alien for tax purposes, you cannot use the tax preparation software in GLACIER Tax Prep. Resident aliens for tax purposes file taxes in the same manner as U.S. citizens and residents. You can find a list of services and resources available to resident aliens at the bottom left of our main tax page. Generally, tax treaties do not apply to individuals who qualify as resident aliens for tax purposes, but there are exceptions. 

Another resource to determine tax residency is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). See the links below:

F-1 and J-1 Students

J-1 Scholars

Alien Residency Examples