Substantial Presence test f1 visa

Substantial Presence Test Calculator for F1 Visa – 1040NR or 1040 Form

Raghuram Sukumar Personal Finance 15 Comments

F1, OPT and H1B Resident Test calculation is easy to calculate, if you know the certain IRS rules. Most of you will run into to this confusion till you understand the differences between Resident Alien and Non-Resident Alien. Here’s couple of questions from my readers

F-1 Student 

I came to USA in F1 Visa in August 2013. I wanted to know, if I have to file Taxes? While looking at tax forms, I’m not sure if I will be considered Resident or Non-Resident Alien. I think only US citizens and green card holders will be considered Residents. Correct me if I’m wrong?

H-1B Worker

I came to America in October 2013. I’m filing taxes in April of this year. I like to know if I can claim the standard deduction. Since, standard deduction will get me more tax deduction and I have to be Resident Alien to file the form 1040.  I’m not sure if I can claim as Resident Alien yet?

Typically F-1 Students, H-1B, L-1A, L-1B, L2 workers run into this issue during tax time. Let’s tackle this problem in this blog post.

Let me clear a couple of important facts first.

  1. You can be considered as Resident Alien in certain situations, even though you don’t have Green Card.
  2. Resident and Non-Resident Alien for Tax purpose is different from Permanent Resident or Green Card Holder.

How to determine if you are considered as Resident or Non-Resident Alien for Tax Purpose? IRS used list of tests to determine if you will be considered Resident or Non-Resident alien for tax purpose.

  • Alien :  If you are not a U.S. Citizen, then you are considered as an Alien.
  • Non-resident Aliens : If you are an alien (not a U.S. Citizen), you are considered a non-resident alien unless you meet one of the two tests described next under Resident Aliens.
  • Resident Aliens: You are a resident alien of the United States for tax purposes if you meet either the green card test or the substantial presence test for the calendar year.

Resident Alien – Tests

  1. Green Card Test
  2. Substantial Presence Test

Green Card Test

You are a resident for tax purposes if you are a lawful permanent resident or Green Card Holder of the United States at any time during the calendar year.

Substantial Presence Test

This applies to F1, OPT, H1B, L1, L2 visa holders.

You will be considered a U.S. Resident for tax purposes if  you meet the substantial presence test.

  • F1 visa (OPT/CPT) : You are are considered as Non Resident Aliens for a period of up to Five years. Use Substantial Presence Test to determine your residency in 6th year.
  • H1B Visa : Use Substantial Presence Test Calculator (below) to calculate if you are a resident alien.

After reading this of you are confused, then talk to an Tax Specialist or CPA in your university. Usually, there will be tax professionals to help with international students taxes.  H1B visa holders who are Non Resident Aliens should only file Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ.

Substantial Presence Test Calculator

The substantial presence test calculator is used to determine if you will be considered as Resident Alien for Tax Purpose.  This applies to several visa holders. If you currently in U.S. in H1B Visa, then you have to pass substantial presence test calculator to be considered as Resident Alien for Tax Purpose.

You will be considered a U.S. Resident for tax purposes if you meet the substantial presence test for calendar year 2015. To meet this test, you must be physically present in the United States on at least:

  • 31 days during the current year, and
  • 183 days during the 3-year period that includes the current year and the 2 years immediately before that, counting:
    • All the days you were present in the current year, and
    • 1/3 of the days you were present in the first year before the current year, and
    • 1/6 of the days you were present in the second year before the current year.

I’m updating this article in Feb 10, 2016. I have been in the USA for preceding 3 years without leaving the country ( for example). Here’s how you would do the math.

  • 41 Days in 2016
  • 365/3 = 121.6
  • 365/6 = 60.83
  • Total = 222 Days

222 Days is greater than 183 days. So, you would be considered as Resident Alien for Tax Purpose. And you can file 1040 or 1040 EZ tax form. If you are non-resident alien, you would have to use 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ for students on F1 and other visa types.

  • Students and their dependents present in the U.S.A in F, J, M, or Q immigration status for five calendar years  would be considered as non-resident alien. So, be careful with your math and don’t use the wrong tax forms to file your taxes.

You can use SprinTax to prepare your tax returns.

Blog Posts About F1 Visa Taxes

  1. Part 1: 10 FAQ’s about International Student Taxes
  2. Part 2: Frequently asked Questions About Filing Taxes for F1 Students
  3. Part 3: How to get FICA Tax Refund for OPT and STEM OPT Students
  4. Part 4: Resident or Non-Resident Alien – Substantial Presence Test Calculator (this article)
  5. Part 5: SprinTax Reviews: Prepare F1 Taxes Online


  1. Dear Sir,

    I came to United status on Aug 2006 and have been continuously studying here and is not out side of us even for a single day. Having said that this is my sixth year in the USA. For tax purpose, will i be a resident or I will be resident only in 2012. I need this information for filing tax.



  2. Dear sir,
    My husband came to United States in 2008 on B1 visa and was here for a month and a half. Later on in 2009 he was back here again on H1B visa and remained here since then. Is he a resident for tax purposes?

  3. i just want to know, If i stayed in US for 6 years with F1 and OPT included can i get USA green card because i will pass Substantial Presence Test.

    1. Being here for 6 yrs. is not a releif for you to change you status. There must be a petition filed before USCIS for the change of your status. Pls. take note that Substantial Presence Test is used only for tax purposes eligibility (resident-non resident), its has a total different meaning in immigration vocabulary.

  4. i was born in the united states but have spent all my life in canada. i have a permant resident card for canada, am I considered a US citizen?

    1. Hi! You are just a resident of Canada but not Can. citizen. You are a natural born US citizen and yes you are still. Unless you denounce it.

  5. Hello,
    I lived in CA for first 7 months in 2011 tax – year on h1b. Am i considered as NR or R in CA??
    MOved to NJ and working since Sep2011. Am I considered as NR or R (or partial-resident) in NJ for tax purposes.?
    Please help me understand this. I do not have GC and I pass the substantial test in US so can be considred as resident of US but I would specifically like to know about states (CA, NJ)!!

    1. I’m confused about your question. The residency is not by state, it is within the US. You will be considered a resident of a certain state if you moved and lived there. Having a house, state ID, lic., etc.

  6. Hi Raghu,
    Even though you had mentioned the SPT calculation for tax purposes, I would like to seek more clarity on that.
    I have been in F1-OPT from Feb 2014 till Sep 2014. H-1 started from Oct 2014. For the purpose of calculation should I only consider the days in H-1B visa in the years 2014,2013,2012 ? If so my calculation would be SPT=86+ 1/3*0 + 1/6*0=86. Is that correct or should i use the actual days i stayed in US irrespective of the visa status F1(opt),F1-student or H1B.


    1. Found this in IRS. Looks like we shouldn’t count those days when we were on F1 visa (days as exempt individual)

      “Exempt Individual
      Do not count days for which you are an exempt individual. The term “exempt individual” does not refer to someone exempt from U.S. tax, but to anyone in the following categories:
      An individual temporarily present in the U.S. as a foreign government-related individual under an “A” or “G” visa, other than individuals holding “A-3” or “G-5” class visas.
      A teacher or trainee temporarily present in the U.S. under a “J” or “Q” visa, who substantially complies with the requirements of the visa.
      A student temporarily present in the U.S. under an “F,” “J,” “M,” or “Q” visa, who substantially complies with the requirements of the visa.
      A professional athlete temporarily in the U.S. to compete in a charitable sports event.”

      1. Hi, Ajay Balan

        Did you got the answer? I have similar issue.
        1st year— 365 days as F1
        2nd year— 50 days as F1
        3rd year — 6 months as B1/B2 vistor and 4 months as H4

        Should I calculate all days or only H4 days

  7. Hi,
    For Tax purpose, how resident and non-resident will be calculated?.
    I am on H1B Visa (came to NY in July-2014 mid and completed only 179 days in 2014, but i am still in NY) and have to complete state tax details, need clarity (YES or NO separately for 3 questions)on below questions.
    1. Did you become a resident of NY during 2014.
    2. Did you become a non-resident of NY during 2014.
    3. Were you a non-resident of NY all of 2014.

    Appreciate quick reply.

  8. hi, I cam to USA in May 2016. So I would be India resident for financial year 2015-16 and pay taxes there with returns but I am also a resident alien for Jan-Dec 2016 as per USA laws . As I paid taxes in India b/w Jan-March 2016 , do I have to show this in USA IT returns? and if yes can we claim rebate on taxes paid or I have to only show India income from May 2016?

Leave a Comment - Your Thoughts Counts