US visas: The comparison table

If you hold a visa from the United States of America, you may be subject to US tax reporting. Non-compliance may result in jeopardizing the visa you worked so hard to obtain. In this article, you will find tips on reducing your US tax liability as well as the comparison table of the US visas.

US tax obligations of US visa holders

The US offers a wide range of visas tailored to every foreign national’s needs. Visa holders enjoy a temporary permission to be in the US to perform specific work authorized by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

(1) FICA taxes

If you hold a US visa you may be subject to Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes. FICA taxes are deducted from your paycheck at a rate of 6.2% of wages (Social Security tax) and 1.45% of wages (Medicare tax).

(2)  Filing a US tax return

If you hold a US visa you may be subject to US tax filings. To obtain a favorable tax treatment and reduce the amount of tax due, you may invoke a tax treaty provision by filing additional schedules with your US tax return.

To view the US tax calendar:

To know more about tax treaties:

(3) Substantial Presence Test (SPT)

If you hold a US visa, you may be subject to US taxes if you exceed 183 days in the US over 3 years.  In some situations, you may be able to request an exemption to the SPT rule (closer connection election) to reduce the tax due.

To read more about the SPT:

To check your number of days (I-94):

(4) State and local taxes

In addition to any U.S. federal income taxes , your wages may also be subject to state and local income taxes imposed by states, cities, counties, townships, or other localities in the U.S.

To know more of state specific taxation:

(5) ITIN

To file a tax return in the US, you must have a Tax Identification Number. If your visa permits employment in the US, you will receive a Social Security Number. If your visa does not permit employment in the US, you will need to apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). To know more about ITIN:

Comparison : US visas & their tax obligations

Visas   Category    Authorized to work in the USSubject to US Income TaxSubject to US FICA taxSubject to US tax filings
Visa WaiverTourist / visitor visa = enables citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the US for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less. Travelers must have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel      NoNoNoNo
Green cardPermanent resident visa = issued to individuals who wish to reside in the US permanently. For more information on the green card:    YesYesYesYes
B1/B2Tourist / visitor visa = issued to individuals who wish to remain in the US temporarily for a maximum of 6 months. The B1 visa is issued for business purpose – such as negotiating a contract or attending business meetings.  The B2 visa is issued for personal needs  – such as visiting family or receiving medical treatment.        NoNoNoYes if meets SPT
E2Treaty trade visa = issued to individuals who engage in substantial trade and develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which they have invested a substantial amount of capital.    Yes  – for work allowed by USCIS  YesYesYes
EB-5Immigrant Investor visa = allows investors to acquire a conditional permanent residence (Green card) if they create US jobs and invest a significant amount ($1 million) in a company located in a disadvantaged region of US (Regional Centers).          YesYesYesYes
F-1Full time Student visa  = issued for the period necessary the complete the studies.Yes – for work allowed by USCISNo for up to 5 years – if work allowed by USCISNo –  if work allowed by USCISYes
G-1 to G-5Employee of an international organizationYes – for work allowed by USCIS  Yes – Taxed as a non-residentYes – Taxed as a non-residentYes
H-1BSpecialty occupation visa =  issued to individuals with skills in architecture, engineering, designers, medicine, and arts.      YesYesYesYes – if meets SPT
J-1Research scholars, professors, trainees visa  = issued to individuals in exchange visitor programs – such as physicians, au pairs, short-term scholars, and summer camp workers  Yes – for work allowed by USCISNo – for up to 2 years – if work allowed by USCISNo –  if work allowed by USCISYes
L-1Intra-company transfer visa= issued to temporary workers who work at a US branch, parent, or subsidiary of their current overseas employer.     YesYesYesYes
O-1Extraordinary talent visa = issued to individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, motion picture or television industry.      YesYesYesYes

Bear in mind the date of this article as tax laws change over time

For assistance with your international tax needs, please contact Karine Bauer, EA, JD – HERE.

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Updated on December 17th2023.