If both you and your wife are nonresident aliens because you are an F-1 student
and she is in F-2 status or you are in J-1 status and she is in J-2 status, the
answer is generally no for federal income tax purposes. In limited cases, a spousal
exemption may be claimed, but this is not the same as filing a joint return and
is discussed in the “exemptions” section of the instructions for the 1040NR.
However, there are some elections that may apply if either you or your wife is
in a different immigration status such as H-1B or O-1, or if one of you is a
U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
For additional information refer to IRS Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens at www.irs.gov. [External Site]