Form W-4 for J-1s

Wages Withholding FormPurpose of Form W-4

Before starting their paid Trainee or Intern program, J-1 visa holders must complete a Form W-4. The W-4 Form must be completed by the J-1 so that the host organization can withhold the correct amount of federal income tax from their pay. J-1 Trainees and Interns are generally subject to federal income tax and state/ local income tax, where applicable. As long as they are considered non-resident aliens, J-1 Trainee and Interns are not subject to Social Security or Medicare taxes.

Completing Form W-4

The Internal Revenue Service provides the instructions below for completing Form W-4 for J-1 Trainees and Interns. The instructions on Form W-4 can be ignored for J-1 Trainee and Interns:

  • Check only “Single” marital status on line 3 (regardless of actual marital status).
  • Claim only one withholding allowance on line 5, unless you are a resident of Canada, Mexico, South Korea, a U.S. national, or a student or business apprentice from India.
  • Do not claim “Exempt” withholding status on line 7.
  • Write “Nonresident Alien” or “NRA” above the dotted line on line 6 of Form W-4.

Additional information can be found on the IRS website here.

Importance of Form W-4

It is important that J-1s correctly complete their Form W-4. The host organization will use the form to determine the amount of federal tax that is withheld from their wages.  An incorrect or incomplete Form W-4 may result in too little or too much tax withheld from the J-1’s paycheck.

6 Responses to “Form W-4 for J-1s

  • Jennifer Fu
    5 years ago

    Hi Mario, again, excellent reference very relevant for corporate in-house administrators… I’ve directed my J-1 trainees to look at the same info for completing their W-4s… Thanks for sharing!

  • Mario
    5 years ago

    Hi, what happen if I’m resident of México? What I need to put on line 5? Did I need to put my HOME (Mexico) adress? Thank you!!

    • Hi Mario. You need to complete Form W-4 when you arrive in the U.S. for training and receive compensation here in the U.S. Form W-4 requires a U.S. address. Best regards.

  • Hi Mario,

    I’m on a J-1 visa and my husband is on J-2 visa. We’ve been in the US for 5 consecutive calendar years and are considered US citizens for tax purposes. I’m about to start my internship tomorrow. When I fill out the W-4 form, do I still single on the marital status and claim only 1 allowance OR can I fill it out normally since I’m a US citizen for tax purposes?

    Please reply ASAP.


    • Hi Aza, I am sorry but tax laws are so complicated that I can’t give advice for your specific situation.