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International students and scholars in the United States are subject to federal and state income taxation on any wages earned by themselves and their families. Following is a summary of how the required federal forms need to be filled out by international students and scholars.


Because the United States requires employers to withhold tax on wages earned by employees, all employees must fill out a W-4 and an IT-2104 form before going on a payroll. International students in F-1 or J-1 status who have been in F-1 or J-1 student status in the U.S. for less than five years must claim either zero or one allowance on both forms regardless of the number of family members, unless they are citizens of Canada, Mexico, India or Korea, and have dependents, or are married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Citizens of Canada or Mexico must check the "single" box in item 3 of form W-4, even if married, but can claim additional allowances for themselves and their dependents on line 5, even if their dependents are abroad, provided that the dependents are not employed in the U.S. Citizens of Korea may follow the same instructions, but can only claim additional allowances for dependents if the dependents are in the U.S. Citizens of India may claim additional allowances on line 5 for dependents who are not in educational visa categories. Indian students may claim an additional allowance for a spouse provided that the spouse has no income. Indian students may claim additional allowances for dependent children provided that the children are U.S. citizens, permanent residents or nationals of the U.S., Mexico or Canada.

Because of federal restrictions on your filing status, you should complete form W-4 as follows:

  • You must check the "single" box in item 3 (even if you are married).
  • Put a number "zero" or "one" on line 5 (unless you're a citizen of one of the four countries mentioned in the previous paragraph and have dependents),
  • Enter NRA (stands for non-resident alien) on line 6
  • Leave line 7 blank

Claiming "zero" allowance will result in more tax being withheld from your check (meaning less income for you) but it is advisable if too little tax is taken out of your check, which may result in you owing money to the IRS next year.

For form IT-2104, put "zero" or "one" on line 1 (unless you are a citizen of one of the countries mentioned and have dependents with you in the U.S.), and leave the remaining lines blank. You are NOT eligible to claim exemption from withholding if you have been in the U.S. less than five years. Students in F-1 or J-1 status for five years or more are eligible to file as residents for tax purposes, unless exempt by tax treaty.

Sign and date both forms at the bottom and return them to the appropriate payroll office. See attachments for example. Failure to have taxes withheld can result in a $500 fine, plus other penalties.

Students in F-1 and J-1 status are exempt from Social Security (FICA) and Medicare tax, which are different from federal or state income tax, during their first five years in the U.S. After that time, FICA and Medicare tax must be withheld, unless the employment involves services performed by the student for the school he/she regularly attends or services performed for a state or local government (unless an agreement with the federal government is involved).






On November 6, 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) became law. The act states that all U.S. employers must verify that all newly hired employees are eligible to work. International students in F-1 or J-1 status are permitted to engage in a maximum of 20 hours per week of on-campus employment.

The Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 must be completed by all employees before going on a payroll. Form I-9 contains two sections. The employee completes the first section. The second section is completed by the employer. See attachment for example.

When completing the Form I-9, you will need to provide the following documents to establish identity and employment eligibility:

  • I-94 Arrival-Departure Record
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Passport
  • Verification of Work Authorization (for J-1 students only). This is a letter issued by your J-1 sponsor authorizing permission to work on campus.
  • I-20 or DS-2019

The following offices are responsible for the I-9s of students:

The Office of Human Resources will examine and certify identification and employment eligibility for graduate students on the State payroll.

The Office of Sponsored Funds Administration will examine and certify identification and employment eligibility for individuals appointed directly to the Research Foundation payroll.

Binghamton University Dining Services and Barnes &Noble will examine and certify identification and employment eligibility for their employees.

The Office of Human Resources will examine and certify identification and employment eligibility for students hired on the New York state temporary service payroll.

Note: Any change/updates to documents should be reported to the appropriate office.




Last Updated: 12/13/17