U.S. Tax Information for International Students and Scholars

Who must file tax forms for the 2020 tax season?

If you were physically in the U.S. in F or J status anytime between January 1 - December 31, 2020 you're obligated to send one form, Form 8843, to the U.S. tax agency IRS (Internal Revenue Service), even if you had no income. For the 2020 tax season, if you earn over $0 of US source income, you may need to file a federal tax return with the IRS. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may also need to file a state tax return(s).

Tax Filing Deadline:

April 15th, 2021 is the last day for residents and non-residents who earned U.S. income to file Federal tax returns for 2020.

Resident or Non-Resident for Federal Tax Purposes:

Generally, most international students & scholars who are on F, J, M or Q visas are considered non-residents for tax purposes. International undergraduate students on J1 & F1 visas are automatically considered non-resident for their first 5 calendar years in the US, whilst Scholars/Researchers on J visas are automatically considered non-residents for 2 out of the last 6 calendar years in the US. If you’ve been in the US for longer than the 5 or 2 year periods, the Substantial Presence Test will determine your tax residency.

How to File:

We have teamed up with Sprintax to provide you with easy-to-use tax preparation software designed for non-resident students and scholars in the U.S. We (and all other university staff) are not qualified or allowed to provide individual tax advice.

After you login to Sprintax, it will ask you a series of questions about the time you have spent in the United States and in which immigration status, looking back over a period of years. Sprintax will then determine your tax status. If it determines that you are a "Non-Resident Alien" (NRA) for federal tax purposes, you can continue to use it to respond to a series of guided questions. Sprintax will complete and generate the forms you need to print, sign, and mail to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). If it determines you are a resident alien for federal tax purposes, you won't be able to continue using the software.

Step by Step guide on How to File Your Non-Resident Tax Forms (F and J)

1)      Gather the documents you may need for Sprintax

2)      Create a Sprintax Account:

You will receive an email from the international student office providing you with a link to the USF Sprintax page, and this is where you will set up your account. This page will cover the costs of the federal tax return and 8843 at no cost to you. Open your new Sprintax account by creating a UserID and password or if you have an existing account on Sprintax you can log in using your existing credentials.

3)      Follow the Sprintax instructions

If you had No U.S. Income: Sprintax will generate a completed Form 8843 for you and each of your dependents (if you have any).

With U.S. Income: Sprintax will generate your "tax return documents", including either a 1040NR-EZ or a longer form 1040NR, depending on your circumstances.

4)      If required, complete your state tax return (with U.S. income only) 

After you finish your federal return, Sprintax will inform you if you need to complete a state tax return. This will only apply to you if you earned income in a state with an income tax in 2020; the State of Florida has no state income tax. If this page applies to you, they will give you the option to use Sprintax for an individual fee. However, it is your choice to use them or to do the state tax return on your own.

5)      Mail your completed federal and/or state forms to IRS and/or state tax authorities

Remember to read the mailing instructions that Sprintax provides. If you have dependents, each one must mail their 8843 in a separate envelope.

Need Sprintax Support?

If you need help while using Sprintax, contact them:

24/7 Live Chat Help

Refer to their FAQs

Email at

Sprintax Educational Tax Videos and Blog:

You also have access to the Sprintax YouTube account where there are a number of educational videos on Non-Resident taxes to provide further clarity on the subject of using Sprintax and Non-Resident Taxes. There is also a Sprintax Blog which go through tax-related topics and can be of use to you.

Tax Resources at USF

Understanding Tax Requirements in the U.S. for International Students and Scholars

The Office of International Services hosts an optional session called Understanding Tax Requirements in the U.S. for International Students and Scholars. This session is meant for students and scholars who are completing taxes in the United States for the first time, and covers general FAQ as well as a brief Sprintax tutorial. This spring's sessions will be held on the following dates:

  • Friday, January 15 @ 1:00 PM EST
  • Tuesday, January 19 @ 2:00 PM EST
  • Wednesday, January 27 @ 12:00 PM EST
  • Monday, February 1 @ 10:00 AM EST
  • Thursday, February 11 @ 12:00 PM EST

All of the above sessions will be hosted on Microsoft Teams. To join, visit

Sprintax Software Assistance Sessions

Once tax season has begun, the Office of International Services also hosts Sprintax Software Assistance Sessions multiple times a week to assist international students and scholars with utilizing the Sprintax Non-Resident Tax Prep tool. Staff will be available to help with interpreting your immigration documents, clarifying instructions, and providing a brief Sprintax tutorial. These sessions will be offered at the following dates and times:

  • Thursday, February 18 @ 10:00 AM EST
  • Tuesday, February 23 @ 11:00 AM EST
  • Friday, February 26 @ 9:00 AM EST
  • Wednesday, March 3 @ 2:00 PM EST
  • Thursday, March 4 @ 12:00 PM EST
  • Monday, March 8 @ 11:00 AM EST
  • Wednesday, March 10 @ 2:00 PM EST
  • Tuesday, March 16 @ 9:00 AM EDT
  • Thursday, March 18 @ 4:00 PM EDT
  • Monday, March 22 @ 10:00 AM EDT
  • Friday, March 26 @ 12:00 PM EDT
  • Tuesday, March 30 @ 11:00 AM EDT
  • Wednesday, March 31 @ 1:00 PM EDT
  • Monday, April 5 @ 12:00 PM EDT
  • Thursday, April 8 @ 9:00 AM EDT
  • Tuesday, April 13 @ 2:00 PM EDT
  • Wednesday, April 14 @ 3:00 PM EDT
  • Thursday, April 29 @ 2:00 PM EDT
  • Tuesday, May 4 @ 12:00 PM EDT
  • Wednesday, May 12 @ 3:00 PM EDT

All of the above sessions will be hosted on Microsoft Teams. To join, visit

Sprintax Webinars

If you would prefer to learn directly from the non-resident tax professionals at Sprintax, they are offering several webinars for international students and scholars throughout the tax season. These sessions are free to you, but you must RSVP at the links below. Topics to be covered include: an overview of taxes for nonresident students and scholars, who must file a 2020 US tax return, what income forms students/scholars may receive, forms that need to be completed and sent to the IRS, terms like FICA, ITIN and Form 1098-T, what happens if students don’t file or misfile, state tax returns, IRS stimulus payments, and a Sprintax overview. These webinars will be offered at the following dates/times:

Sprintax also offers webinars focused on special topics throughout the tax season:

  • Sprintax Nonresident Tax Overview for OPT/CPT | Wednesday, February 17th @ 12:00 PM EST - Register here
  • Sprintax Nonresident Tax Overview for J1 Researchers/Scholars |Tuesday, March 9th @ 12:00 PM EST - Register here
  • Sprintax Nonresident Tax Overview for OPT/CPT | Wednesday, April 28th @ 11:30 AM EDT - Register here
  • Sprintax Nonresident Tax Overview for OPT/CPT | Thursday, May 6th @ 1:00 PM EDT - Register here
  • Sprintax Nonresident Tax Overview for OPT/CPT | Thursday, May 13th @ 9:00 AM EDT - Register here

USF Payroll & Tax Services for Nonresidents

To access the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator, learn more about tax treaties, or view additional information about paying taxes as a nonresident, please visit here.


The Office of International Services and the University of South Florida are NOT permitted to assist any student or scholar with any IRS tax form preparation or tax-related questions. The information provided is intended for your benefit. Any questions or concerns should be directed to Sprintax, a certified tax preparer, or a local IRS field office.