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How do I prevent having Social Security taxes withheld if I am a nonresident alien?

  •  If you are a nonresident alien in F-1, J-1, M-1 or Q-1/Q-2 status, your employment compensation for authorized work is not subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes under section 3121(b)(19) of the Internal Revenue Code. This exception (referred to as the NRA FICA Exception) is described in IRS Publication 15, Employer Tax Guide. The substantial presence test rules and exceptions that cause non-immigrants in F, J, M, and Q status to be nonresident aliens for substantial period of time are described in IRS Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens. Unfortunately, many corporations employing students for optional practical training are unfamiliar with these tax rules and will withhold FICA. Some schools send a letter with their students certifying to the student’s nonresident alien status based on their immigration status and history.