Staff Directory Search our site. Frequently Asked Questions Feedback Site Map Partners Contact us
Click here to return to our Home page.Welcome to the US Forest Service INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS
Back to International Visitor Program
About the Program and Our Services
Who Can Participate?
Who Can Participate?
How to Apply?
Program Regulations
Pre-Entry and Arrival
Orientation
Contacts
Forms
Links
Disclaimer
 
 

International Visitor Program

PROGRAM REGULATIONS:
Employment and Taxes

Table of Contents:

Taxes

Travel/Loding Reimbursements: In general, payments made to, or on behalf of, nonresident alien individuals for the purpose of defraying or reimbursing the deductible travel and lodging expenses of such nonresident alien individuals are excludible from the gross income of such nonresident alien individuals and are not reportable to the Internal Revenue Service by the payers of such payments, on the condition that the requirements of the “accountable plan” rules are met. To read more about these rules, please go to: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/
international/article/0,,id=129423,00.html

Allowances received while participating as a J-1 Exchange Visitor, earnings or other compensation from J-1 employment activities are usually subject to federal, state, and local income taxes if they exceed the standard deductions. There are multiple, combined variables that determine an individual’s withholding, exemptions and tax liability. These include the length of stay in the US, amount earned, state of residence, whether or not the income is a grant to be used for education, international tax treaties and a host of other determining factors. As such, International Programs provides assistance to each program participant on an individual basis during the program orientation and on an ongoing basis. Exchange visitors will be given access to an online software program, which assists visitors in determining tax liability and completing forms. Instructions for establishing user IDs and passwords are distributed to exchange visitors.

J-1 visa holders who have received earnings or maintenance allowances from US sources must file income tax forms by April 15. Even if an Exchange Visitor departs the USA, s/he is still obliged to file tax returns.

By April 15, federal income tax returns must be filed with statements showing earnings from the prior calendar year to determine whether one owes more taxes or is due a refund. If financial support is being provided from home country sources and the Exchange Visitor does not have US income, s/he generally does not have to report or “file” income taxes.

Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-2) Status: Form DS-2019
Program Start and End Dates
30-Day Grace Period
Financial Support - Sufficient Funds
2-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement
24-Month Bar
Mandatory Health Insurance
Required Check In and Validation
10-Day Notice of Any Move
Notification of Changes in Program Sites or Activities
Travel Outside the US During Program
Program Progress Reports
Notification of Departure
Dependents (J-2 Visa Holders)

Employment and Taxes

CAUTION

J-1visa holders, in the appropriate categories, are eligible to receive maintenance allowances while participating in US Forest Service activities within the regulations of the Exchange Visitor Program. Being employed without proper authorization for employment is a SERIOUS violation of J-1 status and could affect all future attempts to apply for visas to the United States . Remember that before starting any kind of work, J-1 Exchange Visitors must first consult the J-1 Responsible Officer or Alternate Responsible Officer in the International Programs Office.

Written approval/authorization is necessary in advance of starting any activity outside the initial approved program activities

 

If an Exchange Visitor qualifies under a tax treaty between the United States and his/her home government, earnings, or some portion of earnings, may not be taxable in the US but could be taxable in ones home country. Please consult international tax treaties for more information. It is important to report all taxable earnings as it can affect eligibility for certain visas and entry into the US in the future.

J-1 visa holders are subject to Social Security and Medicare tax withholding if they are resident aliens for tax purposes. Generally, J-1 Research Scholars become residents and subject to these taxes after 2 years. For more information on the definitions of “resident alien” and “non-resident alien” go to: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p519/ch01.html#d0e412

For more information, contact the International Programs Office. Also, review the Internal Revenue Service Publication 519, “US Tax Guide for Aliens” at: www.irs.gov or http://www.irs.gov/publications/p519/index.html


Back to top

Important Documents

  • Temporary “Travel” Identification Number

To expedite and facilitate the processing of J-1 Exchange Visitor travel arrangements and disbursements of maintenance allowances, temporary 9-digit identification numbers are issued to the exchange visitor through the Forest Service administrative service center. This number is only to be used for the purpose of US Forest Service travel and debit card programs. It may not be used for any other purpose. Exchange visitors must NOT give this number to anyone or use this number for any other purpose such as for opening a bank account or applying for a credit card. While some may mistake this for a “Social Security Number,” it is not a social security number.

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for federal tax purposes to nonresident or resident foreign nationals who do not have or who are not eligible for a US social security number. An ITIN is used for tax reporting only and is also required for nonresident or resident foreign national spouses and dependents listed on a US tax return. ITINs do not authorize a person to work in the US or provide eligibility for Social Security benefits.

  • International Tax Identification Number (ITIN)

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for federal tax purposes to nonresident or resident foreign nationals who do not have or who are not eligible for a US social security number. An ITIN is used for tax reporting only and is also required for nonresident or resident foreign national spouses and dependents listed on a US tax return. ITINs do not authorize a person to work in the US or provide eligibility for Social Security benefits.

The nine-digit number always begins with the number 9 and has a 7 or 8 in the fourth digit (ex: 9XX-7X-XXXX). If a nonresident will not stay in the US more than 2 years, an ITIN should suffice for submitting tax returns. However, once a nonresident has been in the US two years, they are no longer exempt from contributing to social security. Please refer to the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration websites for more information on requirements for nonresidents and resident foreign nationals:

  • A Social Security Number

Social Security is a program of the United States federal government that provides retirement income, health care for the aged, and disability coverage for eligible workers and their dependents. Employees contribute to the social security fund through automatic deductions from their paychecks. Recipients begin receiving benefits after a certain age, in retirement or upon becoming disabled. All individuals employed in the United States must hold social security numbers. This 9-digit number is primarily used for tax identification purposes, but is also used for many other purposes as this number is unique to individual. It could be considered as a type of national identity number or card.

  • Applying for a Social Security Number

Holders of J-1 visas are eligible to apply for and obtain a social security number as technically they are eligible for employment in the USA, within the limits of their particular program. For example, students in the United States on J-1 visas may be employed on their campuses and they must have social security numbers to be put on payroll. Government visitors coming for a short visit for which they receive reimbursement for certain expenses, are not employees nor are they eligible to apply for jobs or earn salary from any employer. Research scholars, who receive US grants, scholarships, or wages, do have to consider social security and taxes.

J-1 visa holders are exempt from contributing to social security so long as they are considered at “non-resident” alien. Generally, J-1 Research Scholars become resident aliens must contribute to social security and Medicare after 2 years in the US . For more information on the definitions of “resident alien” and “non-resident alien” go to: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p519/ch01.html#d0e412

After two years, Research Scholars must begin contributions. On the other hand, their J-2 dependents, who must apply for employment authorization documents (EAD Cards) to be eligible for work are not exempt from contributing to social security.

Exchange visitors must first enter the country and have their SEVIS record validated after arrival before applying for a social security number. It is recommended that visitors wait 10 days after their arrival in the United States before applying for a social security number. Information recorded from the I-94 form upon entering the country must be entered in the “SAVE” database and be available and accessible to Social Security Administration officials before a number can be issued. To apply, exchange visitors should take their passport, I-94 Departure Record card and DS-2019 to a Social Security Administration office. Please note that some personnel in some social security administration offices may not have had much experience dealing with J-1 exchange visitors. You may wish to print out the following documents to provide as a reference: The procedures for SSA staff are cited at: http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0100203488#A

Additional information can be found at: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/factsheet/061404emp_fs.htm

When the Social Security number arrives in the mail, the exchange visitor must provide the number to the International Programs office. International Programs will provide summary report of disbursements, reimbursements or payments made to international visitor after program completion. This form may be used by the exchange visitor to file an income tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If the Exchange Visitor qualifies for exemptions based on an international tax treaty, s/he should consider this when filing a tax return.

J-1 visa holders are not eligible for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card). Exchange Visitor activities are restricted to the US Forest Service and its approved partners. Engaging in any unauthorized employment or activity is a violation of J-1 program and immigration status.


Back to top

Incidental Employment

On rare occasions, visiting research scholars are asked to perform services or consultations for other organizations or institutions. All requests made by another agency, organization or institution other than the US Forest Service and its official, documented program partners must be forwarded to the Responsible Officer in the International Programs office. International visitors in the Research Scholar category are permitted to conduct an occasional lecture with written approval from the J-1 Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO). The J-1 Responsible Officer is the person who issues the DS-2019 forms and who must evaluate proposed activity in the context of program requirements and personal circumstances.

As unauthorized employment is a serious violation of program status, please consult with the Responsible Officer in the FS International Programs Office. All incidental employment must be approved in writing.

If the international visitor holds a DS-2019 from a J-1 sponsoring agency or institution other than the US Forest Service, the exchange visitor must have written permission from the program sponsor noted on the DS-2019 to engage in activities with the Forest Service. The International Programs Office can assist exchange visitors in contacting other sponsors, but has no authority to override their decision regarding permitted activities.

In general, incidental employment:

  • Must be directly related to the objectives of the specific Exchange Visitor program.
  • Must be described in detail in a letter of invitation
  • Must be incidental to primary program activities; and
  • Must not delay the progress or completion of the Exchange Visitor program

For advice and further information, contact the J-1 Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) in International Programs.


Back to top

 

 

Employment for J-2 Dependents

J-2 dependents who are in the United States for extended periods of time may apply to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for authorization to work. Applications are made with form I-765, a fee ( $180 as of 10/26/05), photos, copies of all DS-2019s and a letter indicating why the employment is needed – usually by showing a budget and indicating that the income will not be used by the J-1 principal or in support of the J-1. J-2 dependents may not legally work to support the J-1 scholar or researcher. You may download information, the I-765 form and instructions from the USCIS website.

If permission to work is granted, the J-2 can work part- or full-time for any employer with the exception of practicing medicine (even if s/he has a license). There is no legal limit to the amount the J-2 can earn and all earnings of J-2 dependents are subject to federal, state, and local taxes. Unlike the J-1 principal, J-2s are immediately subject to social security taxes. J-2 employment can be authorized for as long as the J-1 holder has permission to stay OR for four years, whichever is shorter. Permission to stay expires on the date shown on the I-94 card.


If you have any questions, please contact:
Brenda Dean, International Visitor Program Coordinator , Responsible Officer
Tel: (202) 219-9774
Fax: (202) 208-0873
Email: bdean@fs.fed.us

Rima Eid, Program Specialist, Alternate Responsible Officer
Tel: (202) 208-3785
Fax: (202) 273-6570

Email: reid@fs.fed.us

Misty Sidhu, Program Specialist, Tax Specialist Tel: (202) 273-3324 Fax: (202) 273-4750 Email: msidhu@fs.fed.us

Kristin Corcoran, Program Specialist
Tel: (202) 273-4733
Fax: (202) 273-6570

Email: kcorcoran@fs.fed.us


Back to top


Home |About the Program & Our Services |Our Services | Who Can Participate
How to Apply | Program Regulations | Pre-Entry and Arrival | Orientation
Contacts | Forms |Links | Disclaimer

Staff Directory
| Search | FAQ | Feedback | Site Map | Partners | Contact Us
International Programs | Forest Service | USDA

2000 US Forest Service International Programs
Legal Information and Disclaimer
Webmaster