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FICA & Medicare Taxes

Nonresident aliens may also liable for Social Security and Medicare Taxes on wages paid to them for services they have performed in the United States. However, there are certain exceptions based on specific IRS regulations and the individual’s non-immigration status. The following classes are exempt from U.S. Social Security and Medicare taxes:

Special Exemptions from FICA & Medicare for Employment by F, J, M, or Q Visa Holders:

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, Q-1, or Q-2 nonimmigrant status are exempt with regard to FICA and Medicare taxes 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 for the primary purposes for which such visas were issued.

The following rules and limitations would apply to be eligible for the exemption:

Currently enrolled students, for on-campus employment for up to 20 hours a week or for 40 hours during summer vacations, school breaks between semesters, or when students are not enrolled in classes provided the student plans or intends to re-enroll the following semester.

  1. Off-campus student employment allowed by USCIS. An EAD card is required.
  2. Practical Training student employment on or off campus. An EAD card is required.
    1. If the person has met the Substantial Presence Test (number of days present in the U.S.) and is considered to be a Resident Alien, the exemption to FICA and Medicare taxes will not apply.
  3. The exemption does not apply to spouses and children in F-2, J-2, or M-2 nonimmigrant status.
  4. The exemption does not apply to employment that is not allowed by USCIS or to employment not closely connected to the purpose for which the visa was issued.
  5. The exemption does not apply to F-1, J-1, M-1, or Q-1/Q-2 nonimmigrants that change to an immigration status which is not exempt or to a special protected status.  I.e.: A green Card.
  6. The exemption does not apply to F-1, J-1, M-1, or Q-1/Q-2 nonimmigrants who become resident aliens

Social security or FICA and Medicare taxes are required on payroll earnings unless an exemption is provided. F-1 students and J-1 students and scholars are exempt from social security taxes for the period of time they are nonresident aliens for tax purposes if their employment is directly related to their purpose for being in the United States. F-2 and J-2 visa holders are not exempt from FICA tax.  The primary purpose of an F-2 or J-2 visa holder is to accompany the individual in the F-1 or J-1 status visa holder and not to be a student, teacher or researcher.  Student visa holders who become resident aliens may be entitled to claim a “student FICA” exemption from FICA tax. The payroll department administers the student FICA exemption. Contact Deborah Deal,, (904) 620-2984;  Miguel Gabertan,, (904) 620-2715 or