How to Get Refund of FICA Taxes for OPT Students

opt fica refund formFollow-up question from Swapnil based on the article Which is Better : Working in OPT or H1B Visa

I have a question regarding FICA taxes. As a OPT student, I am exempt from FICA taxes, but these taxes are still getting deducted from my salary. I know that I can file for refund of this money to IRS. But I was wondering if there is any way to stop these deductions from my salary itself. (So that I don’t worry about filing for a refund). I checked this with my employer. But company people were not sure. and I wanted to check with IRS but I could not due to shutdown. It will be great if you could throw some light on this.

OPT and FICA Taxes

  • As per IRS you don’t have to pay FICA Taxes (Social Security and Medicare)
  • Employer’s payroll processing team should be aware of this, if not no worries, you can educate them.
  • Worst Case : If they continue to deduct the FICA taxes, you can claim it back while filing your taxes in April.

IRS : FICA Taxes and OPT Students

Following is taken from IRS Website

Nonresident aliens, in general, are also liable for Social Security/Medicare Taxes on wages paid to them for services performed by them in the United States, with certain exceptions based on their nonimmigrant status. The following classes of nonimmigrants and nonresident aliens are exempt from U.S. Social Security and Medicare taxes:

F-visas, J-visas, M-visas, Q-visas. Nonresident Alien students, scholars, professors, teachers, trainees, researchers, physicians, au pairs, summer camp workers, and other aliens temporarily present in the United States in F-1,J-1,M-1, or Q-1/Q-2 nonimmigrant status are exempt on wages paid to them for services performed within the United States as long as such services are allowed by USCIS for these nonimmigrant statuses, and such services are performed to carry out the purposes for which such visas were issued to them.

  • Exempt Employment includes:
    • On-campus student employment up to 20 hours a week (40 hrs during summer vacations).
    • Off-campus student employment allowed by USCIS.
    • Practical Training student employment on or off campus.
    • Employment as professor, teacher or researcher.
    • Employment as a physician, au pair, or summer camp worker.

You can ask your employer to read the IRS site about FICA Taxes. If they continue deduct taxes, then you can request refund of FICA Taxes withheld from you pay check back from IRS.

Following is the procedure to get FICA Taxes Refund ( from IRS Site)


If social security or Medicare taxes were withheld in error from pay that is not subject to these taxes, contact the employer who withheld the taxes for a refund.

If you are unable to get a full refund of the amount from your employer, file a claim for refund with the Internal Revenue Service on Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement (PDF). Attach the following items to Form 843:

  • A copy of your Form W-2 to prove the amount of social security and Medicare taxes withheld,
  • A copy of the page from your passport showing the visa stamp,
  • INS Form I-94,
  • If applicable INS Form I-538, Certification by Designated School Official, and
  • A statement from your employer indicating the amount of the reimbursement your employer provided and the amount of the credit or refund your employer claimed or that you authorized your employer to claim. If you cannot obtain this statement from your employer, you must provide this information on your own statement and explain why you are not attaching a statement from your employer.
  • If applicable, Form 8316,Information Regarding Request for Refund of Social Security Tax Erroneously Withheld on Wages Received by a Nonresident Alien on an F, J, or M Type Visa (PDF)

File Form 843 (with attachments) with the IRS office where your employer’s Forms 941 returns were filed.

You can locate the IRS office where your employer files his Form 941 by going to Where to File Tax Returns.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions.

Related Post

Cheat Sheet : Use 0% APR Credit Card Balance Transfer to Pay Education Loan in I... Education loan Interest Rate in India is around 12% or even higher.  Is it a good idea to pay off education loan from your home country ( say India) u...
How to Save $20,000 per Year With $54,000 Salary Colleges don't teach how to save boat loads of money. But, who does? Where can you learn about saving money and personal finance? Is there a one...
How Much Money Can You Earn, Save in USA on H1B or L1 Visa? You can save a lot and spend a lot. That's the lifestyle in USA. via flickrFollowing question was posted by a reader names AA. I am new in US,...
Guess How Much Americans Are Borrowing to Pay for College? Interesting Student Loan numbers from Following image speaks for itself about the amount of loan students are borrowing to pa...


  1. Harry

    Hi, there.

    your web site helped me a lot with going through this FICA tax return.

    I just got the mail from IRS saying that they cannot process my claim because I didn’t use form 1040NR when I file the tax return.

    I looked up my files, and I noticed that my accountants used 1040 and 1040EZ to file 2 different tax years. Also, I made mistake with form 843 (I wrote 1040NR on “original return” for both claim instead of 1040 and 1040EZ).

    Wondering what should I do to fix this problem..
    and is it true that I cannot get FICA tax return if I didn’t use form 1040NR?

    Thanks in advance :))

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      Oh, I didn’t know that you had to use 1040NR for getting FICA refund. ( as you ca see, I’m not a legal tx consultant).

      I know you can amend a tax return, but you have to find if you can file new form now for previous years. You would need a tax consultant (or CPA) to do that (or talk to).

      1. Harry

        **Update Info about this situation.

        I finally could talk to IRS people after waited about 2 hours, and he clearly mentioned that 1040NR is “ESSENTIAL” to get FICA tax return.

        My accountant used 1040 and 1040EZ when they filed 2013 and 2014 tax return.
        That was the reason they denied to process my FICA tax return.

        If anyone has same problem just like me, this is what you should do.

        1. You have to send 1040X and 1040NR for each tax period to fix your status
        (He said this will take about 12~16 weeks to fix, but not sure they are going to send notification letter if they are done)

        2. You have to send another Form843 for each period after you waited that 12~16weeks. (That means you need to wait until they fix your status)

        3. Wait for the letter form IRS

        Personally, I sent my form843 on July 7th 2015, and I got their letter on November 23rd 2015. So, I am guessing any FICA tax return will take at least about 5 months.

        Hope this information could help you guys. :))

        1. Alvin

          Thank you so much for info. This really helps a lot. But I was wondering if you found that you would owe the IRS some money (federal income tax) once you refiled 1040NR before you can get FICA back. When I used the 1040 for 2014, the IRS returned me, for example, 2045 dollars. I used the wrong form, like you. So I recently refile the 1040NR with the 1040X, and I found that I can only get, for example, 1245 dollars back for federal income tax return. So I am guessing the IRS will send me a notice, saying I owe 800 dollars (2045-1245). Is this right? Thank you.

          1. Harry

            That is my guess too, but I was worrying that I end up paying money instead of getting return.

            I am still researching about this issue regarding how this 1040NR will affect to my previous return.

            If you find new info, plz share with me through this site.

            Thanks in advance!

          2. Author
            Raghuram Sukumar

            It depends on the tax agreement between USA and your country.

            For example, India and USA have $5000 deductible agreement when filing 1040NREZ, but that wouldn’t apply if you file 1040, but there’s standard deductible. So, you have to talk to a CPA.

  2. Rutuja

    Do we have to fill out any specific IRS form for the employer to provide the FICA expemtion?

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      Nope. You have to inform them via email. That should be good.

  3. Meet

    What percent of the total tax return(for both state and federal) i get back on OPT?
    For e.g i have paid 5000$ tax including state and federal for the last year,how much would i get it back?

  4. Nivedita

    I am on my F1 OPT. Am married. I have a confusion about filling my W4. Should I still write single or can I write married filing jointly. ( we do file tax jointly only). And, should I write ” EXEMPT” in line 7. I understand they should withhold only fed tax and not FICA tax. How do I make sure my W4 is correct and shows that clearly.

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      Married filing jointly.
      Unless you have spent over 5 years in US, fica is exempt.

      1. Nivedita

        So how do I state that on my W4 that I should only be deducted for fed tax and FICA exempt

  5. Stefano

    I was an F1 Student and was doing my OPT when I filed for my FICA refund in June 2015. How long does it take for the FICA refund to be processed? And is there a number/site to check the status? only gives information regarding tax refunds and amended tax refunds — nothing on FICA.


  6. Alvin


    Thank you for the information. it helps a lot. I still have one question. So the question 6 (Original return) on the Form 843, are we supposed to put a checkmark on 941 or 1040? Thank you.

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      You should check the appropriate box, which is which form did you submit the Original Return.

      1. Chun-Chih Yeh

        Thank you again. I still have one question. You said “which form did you submit the original return.” Do you mean original return for SSN and medicare taxes or for income tax? I am thinking it will affect which form I need to select. Thank you.

        1. Author
          Raghuram Sukumar

          I think they ment Income Tax – 8843 or 1010 or 1040NR, etc. If you have doubts, talk to a CPA.

  7. Gerardo Gutierrez

    I am OPT F1 and Exempt of FICA taxes, it is clear. Does my employer have to pay his FICA part? How much?
    Thank you for your article.

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      I’m not sure if your employer have to pay or not, but you don’t have to pay.

  8. Ryan

    Will I be able to file the form now to get previous two quarters back this year 2015? If not, when can I file this form? Cause right now it costs a lot if the employer asks this money for me. Thanks.

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      You can file the form now or when you file next year taxes.

  9. Manpreet

    Is it possible to get FICA refund for the year 2013 at this point?

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      Yes, you should be able to get it now as well. File the right form or get help from CPA.

  10. Rakesh


    I have a question about filing W-4 form.

    I am on H1B ( I-140 – approved) and my wife is on OPT EAD status .
    She got a job and her employer is asking to send the filled W-4 .


    Which option do we both choose “filing single” or “Married filing jointly” .
    Can I claim my wife as dependent while she is working on OPT EAD status.

    I am looking for what to fill in “W4 – Personal Allowances Worksheet ( A, B, C, D, E” for each of us.


    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      You can claim your wife as dependent unless someone else is not claiming.

      Mostly you should be doing married filing jointly.

  11. Ravish

    Hey! Thanks for the helpful article. I was wondering if it was possible to file this from abroad (as the forms do not have a “country” section to fill out). I got done with my OPT and left the USA last year. But I am eligible to get some money back from my 2013 tax deductions (and have all the necessary documents ready). Or should I just use a friends mailing address?

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      I don’t know the answer. If you find an answer can you come back to post it here?

      1. Ravish

        So, I used my friends mailing address. I assumed that it would be faster that way, plus being safer. Anyway I do have another question, how long does this process take? Its been close to 5-6 months now, when should I expect to hear anything back?

  12. Prabhat Sinha


    I am in the United States since last two years on F1 Visa, currently I am on my OPT. The employer who I work for pays me $ 10 per hours and charges $66 federal tax on the amount of $ 555 for per two weeks.

    Can i get exemption from Federal tax withholding

  13. John Smith

    Worked in the US on a J-1 visa during the summer of 2014 in New York city, was unaware i did not have to pay FICA. Do i follow the suggested steps to get a full refund and am i entitled to one?

  14. YDY

    I have been in the US for more than 5 years on F1 visa and therefore I am counted as resident alien for tax purposes but I am on OPT now, my employer is withholding FICA and medicare. Can I ask them not to withhold in this case or am I eligible for a refund?thanks!

  15. Vinod


    Is a person with OPT status (valid EAD card) but expired F-1 visa still eligible for this FICA refund?

    Appreciate your response.


Leave a Comment

Comment Policy:
  • A Comment is a Conversation. Play Nice. Say and Ask something intelligent.
  • Use Q&A section to Ask your Questions. Else comments will be deleted.
  • Valid Name and Email is Required. URL Optional(you can link to About.Me Profile)
  • Don't share your phone number, email id in the comment contents.
  • Don't post links to others websites.
  • By commenting here, you agree to Term and Conditions of this site.