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What is a Teacher or Trainee for Tax Purposes?

What is a Teacher or Trainee for Tax Purposes?
Ines Zemelman, EA
04 June 2018

Teacher Or Trainee?

A person who is in the US temporarily under either a “Q” or “J” visa, and is not a student, and who is substantially compliant with that status’ requirements, is considered a trainee or teacher. Substantial compliance with that status is considered to be not having engaged in any activities prohibited by immigration law that could cause loss of that nonimmigrant status.

In other words, “Teacher or Trainee” includes any non-student, nonimmigrant who is temporarily in the United States using a “Q” or “J” visa. As examples, this includes au pairs, physicians, summer camp employees, scholars, and cultural visitors.

Immediate Family is Also Included

If someone holds the status of “Teacher or Trainee”, their immediate family (spouse and any unmarried children) are also exempt whether by adoption or by blood - but their nonimmigrant statuses must be dependent on, or derived from, the exempt person’s nonimmigrant status. There are three requirements for unmarried children to qualify:

  • They must not be members of a different household
  • They must regularly reside in the household of the exempt person
  • They must be less than 21 years old

Immediate family doesn’t include employees, servants, or attendants.

Exceptions to the Exemption

The exemption as a trainee or teacher does not apply if the individual was exempt because of their status as a student, trainee, or teacher for any portion of two out of the six calendar years prior to the current calendar year.

But, the exemption does apply if the individual was exempt because of their status as a student, trainee, or teacher for no more than any portion of four out of the six calendar years prior to the current year and:

  • All compensation in the current calendar year was paid by a foreign employer.
  • All compensation in all of the prior six years the individual was in the US as a trainee or teacher was paid by a foreign employer.

For these purposes, “foreign employer” also includes offices of American companies in foreign countries or US possessions.

Exclusions of days present in the United States as a trainee or teacher must be claimed on a properly filed Form 8843, Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition. This form can be included with the taxpayer’s federal tax return or it can be mailed. The address is in the instructions for the form.

Example

Mary is teaching in the US under a J-1 visa. She came to the US in August of 2012, and had never been to the US before now.

  1. Mary will be exempt for the calendar years of 2012 and 2013 since during those years she has met the test requiring that she wasn’t in the US during two different years of the six years before the present year.
  2. But, in 2014 she will no longer be exempt since she was in the US during two different years. For the calendar year of 2014, Mary is required to count the days she was present in the US for purposes of meeting the Substantial Presence Test.
Ines Zemelman, EA
founder of Taxes for Expats