Student Payroll Tax Residency Form Instructions

Tax Residency
There are two systems of taxation in the United States: one for residents and one for non-residents. Under U.S. tax laws, all non-U.S. citizens are considered to be either permanent resident aliens, resident aliens for tax purposes, or nonresident aliens. Permanent resident aliens and resident aliens for tax purposes are taxed the same as U.S. citizens while nonresident aliens are taxed under special laws.

Tax Residency Information Form (TRIF)
The purpose of the Student Payroll Tax Residency Information Form is to collect information needed to accurately determine the tax residency of nonresident alien student employees. Because immigration status affects the tax residency of an individual, the student must agree to notify their college or university of changes to their immigration status by signing the Student Payroll Tax Residency Information Form (see Section D).

Immigration Documentation Required
Copies must be made of the student employee's immigration documents that establish identity and immigration status and which provide information about visits to the United States.

  • F-1 Students: 
    • Unexpired passport - identification page & all pages that relate to travel into the U.S.;
    • I-94 Arrival Departure Record & I-94 Travel History;
    • I-20 SEVIS Form
  • J-1 Students:
    • Unexpired passport - identification page & all pages that relate to travel into the U.S.;
    • I-94 Arrival Departure Record & I-94 Travel History;
    • DS-2019 J-1 Authorization Form

The copies of the above documentation should be combined into a PDF with the completed Student Payroll Tax Residency Information Form.  More information on completing a TRIF packet.

Send a PDF copy of the combined documents to Tax Services and keep a copy on campus with the employee's Student Payroll file. 

Note: For the documentation requirements for immigration statuses that are not F-1 or J-1, please contact Tax Services.

Guidance for each section of the Student Payroll Tax Residency Information Form follows below:

Section A: Personal Information
Date of Original Port of Entry Under Current Immigration Status:
The date that the student first arrived in the U.S. under their current visa type or current immigration status. If the student has had a change of status since arriving, enter the date they arrived under their previous immigration status and fill in the Change of Status area of this section.
Change of Status:
If student entered the country under a different immigration status than the status they hold currently, enter their previous status and the date that their status changed.

Section B: Tax Residency
This flow chart is designed to help institutions identify those student employees who have tax residency issues needing Tax Services special attention. Depending on the student's immigration status/visa type and their prior visit information, the flow chart will direct the student and withholding agent to the sections of the form they need to fill out and will indicate whether they should contact Tax Services.

Section C: Prior Visits
This information is essential to accurately determine the student employee's tax status.

The student must list every visit they have ever made to the U.S. under an F, J, M or Q visas/immigration status, even if the visit was as a dependent of an F, J, M or Q visa holder (i.e. F-2, J-2, M-2 or Q-2 visa holders). The student must also list any visits to the U.S. under any other type of visa/immigration status in the past 3 calendar years, starting with the current year. For the current year, they should list any visits prior to their current visit but not the current visit as that information can be found on the first page of the form.

Prior visit information must include the year, the visa type/immigration status, the arrival and departure dates and the purpose of the visit. In the case of visits where a visa was not required, it is important that the student give the reason for the visit.

The last three columns of the Prior Visit Information table are reserved for the withholding agent (either Tax Services or the institutions student payroll). The column titled SPT Days is for the number of days the student was present in the U.S. and will be used to calculate the substantial presence test. The column Exempt Status is used to indicate if the employee was an exempt individual on a prior visit. The Tax Residency Status column is used to indicate if the student was a resident or nonresident for tax purposes.

Example A:
In August of 2016, Jaime arrived in the U.S. under an F-1 student visa sponsored by Minnesota State University, Mankato. He had previously visited the U.S. as part of a high school exchange program in 2014 and 2015.

Section C of Jaime's Tax Residency Information Form might look something like this: 

Year Immigration Status Number of Days in the US Purpose of Visit
2016  F-1  31 attend University
2015 F-1 Departed 6/1/15 High school exchange student
2014 F-1 Arrived 9/1/14 High school exchange student


Section D: Certification
The employee must sign this form to certify that the information they have presented is true and that should any of this information change, they will notify the payroll withholding agent at their institution in order to prepare and submit a new form.

Section E: Tax Residency Calculation
The boxed in area of this section contains a simple calculation to arrive at a date in the future called the tax residency starting date or residency start year. On January 1st of the residency start year, the institution must begin to tax the employee as a resident alien.

For many student employees the tax residency year will be 5 years from the date they first arrived in the U.S. under their current immigration status (their original port of entry date). This date can be found in Section A on the first page of the Tax Residency Information Form.

If an employee has been in the U.S. previously under an F, J, M or Q visa, their tax residency year will be less than 5 years from the port of entry date (or change of status date, if applicable)

Example A continued:
Because Jaime's prior visits were under an F visa, he has used up two out of five of his "exempt individual" years. The calculation to arrive at Jaime's tax residency year would be done as follows:

Port of Entry Year 2016
Plus Exempt years + 5
Less Prior Visit Years − 2
Equals Residency Start Year = 2019


Section F: Residency Starting Date
Enter the Tax Residency Year from Section E. If necessary, contact Tax Services for help in determining the Tax Residency Year.

When an employee reaches the Tax Residency Year, begin treating the employee as a resident alien for tax purposes. Resident aliens are not eligible for treaty benefits and will be subject to FICA/Medicare taxes unless otherwise exempt under the student FICA/Medicare tax exemption. Resident aliens are taxed the same as residents or lawful permanent residents of the United States.

The withholding agent should ask the employee to fill out a new W-4.

Enter the Tax Residency Year on the Tax Residency Spreadsheet. Before the first payroll of each year, check the spreadsheet to determine which employees will be changing tax residency and begin treating those employees as resident aliens for tax purposes in the new tax year.

Section G: Withholding Agent Information
Enter the name and contact information of the individual responsible for verifying the Tax Residency Information Form. Tax Services may contact the institution with questions about the information on the form.