Foreign National Tax FAQ

I am a foreign national student/scholar. Am I exempt from taxes?

No, international students are not exempt from U.S. taxes. A tax treaty between the U.S. and an international student’s country of tax residency may reduce the U.S. taxes you owe.

Your visa type determines what taxes you must pay.

  • Social Security tax and Medicare tax (both known as FICA taxes) are employment taxes, and are withheld only from wage payments
  • Students who hold F-1 or J-1 classifications are exempt from FICA tax withholding for the first five calendar years they are in the U.S.
  • Professors and researchers who hold J-1 classification are exempt from FICA tax withholding for the first two calendar years they are in the U.S.
  • H-1B, O-1, J-2, and H-2 holders must pay FICA

What is a tax treaty?

A tax treaty is an agreement entered between the U.S. and a foreign country that is intended to reduce or eliminate double taxation.

  • Usually only valid for a limited time period and/or for a specified dollar amount (ex. France income tax treaty allows exemption of $5,000/calendar year for personal services income earned by a student for a period of five calendar years)
  • Compensations earned beyond either limit are subject to federal income tax
  • The U.S. currently maintains income tax treaties with over 60 countries

Since I already had taxes withheld from my paychecks, do I need to file a tax return?

Yes. The U.S. tax system is a pay as you go plan, meaning taxes are withheld from your paychecks as you earn them (based on withholding documents you give to your employer). You file a federal income tax return after the end of the calendar year to reconcile your withholdings with your actual tax liability.

What is a 1042-S form?

The 1042-S is a tax document issued to all foreign nationals who claimed a tax treaty exemption or received taxable scholarship/fellowship payments, honorarium, or prizes. They are issued from the Human Resources Compliance and Immigration Services department.

I didn’t get a 1042-S. Should I have received one?

It depends on your tax status and your income. You should receive a 1042-S if you received

  • wages or salary on which you claimed a tax treaty exemption
  • a scholarship or fellowship where taxes were deducted and/or you claimed a tax treaty exemption (unless you received tuition, required fees, or a book allowance applied to your term bill)
  • income from prizes, awards, or honorarium payments

If you qualify for a 1042-S form and did not receive one, please contact the Foreign National Tax Consultant at immigration@virginia.edu.

What is a W-2 form?

A W-2 form is a tax document issued from the Payroll Department to all employees who received taxable wages from UVA.

I didn’t receive a W-2 form. Should I have received one?

If you received taxable wage income as a UVA employee, you should receive a W-2 form. They are mailed out every year by January 31. If you need a copy of your W-2, you can access the form via Self-Service, or you can email AskHR@virginia.edu or call 434.982.0123.

Can we pay an H-1B visa holder from another institution?

No. The University is not permitted to pay any H-1B sponsored by another institution.

I would like to apply for a tax treaty. What do I do?

Please verify that your country of tax residency (the country you resided in directly prior to coming to the United States) has an active tax treaty with the U.S.