July 10, 2009
Question of the Week: Is a Non-student Holding a J-1 Visa Exempt from FICA Tax Withholding?
Filed under: News
Vision Payroll

This week’s question comes from Norma, an HR manager. I know that students with J-1 visas are exempt from FICA tax withholding in certain circumstances. We hired a non-student with a J-1 visa. Is a non-student holding a J-1 visa exempt from FICA tax withholding? Answer: Non-resident aliens are exempt from paying FICA tax, variously known as social security tax, Medicare tax, or OASDI. Foreign scholars, teachers, researchers, trainees, physicians, au pairs, summer camp workers, and other non-students in J-1 nonimmigrant status who have been in the United States less than two calendar years are considered non-resident aliens during the first two calendar years of physical presence in the United States. After two years of physical presence, a non-student is considered a resident alien and therefore is subject to FICA tax withholding. Therefore, non-students with a J-1 visa are exempt from FICA tax during their first two years of physical presence and subject to FICA tax withholding thereafter. As with students, physical presence for non-students is tested on a calendar year basis; therefore, entry into the United States on December 31 is counted as presence in the United States for one calendar year. Contact Vision Payroll if you have any questions on FICA tax withholding for J-1 visa holders.


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