I came to USA in August 2015 on a F-1 visa and switched to H1-B visa in Jan 2020. As per the substantial presence test, I will only become a resident alien after 183 days.

My questions are,

  1. I have an RSU account in Morgan Stanley where in I need to submit a W-9 or a W-8 BEN tax form. Until now I've submitted W-8 Ben since I was a non-resident. Should I be changing it to W-9? Or do I need to change it only when I pass the substantial presence check?

  2. I'm trying to open a savings account in Citibank and there is a question if I'm a resident alien or not - what do I say? (both 1 & 2 are probably the same questions)

Can someone with knowledge on F-1 to H1-B transition help me with the above questions.

Thank you!

  • 2
    Consult your university or a lawyer – aaaaa says reinstate Monica Jan 29 '20 at 5:41
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it pertains to legal status of OPs citizenship, and is entirely off topic here. Nor do we have such knowledge. – Ellie Kesselman Jan 29 '20 at 6:04
  • 8
    Actually it does not. RESIDENT is not CITIZEN and a question whether you are a resident is not a question whether you are a citizen. So, it can not be a querstion about citizenship status. Residency is making sense for tax status, which is obviously personal finance. – TomTom Jan 29 '20 at 6:10

It is not true that you "will only become a resident alien after 183 days." Rather, you will only know whether you pass the Substantial Presence Test for 2020 in 183 days. But if you pass the Substantial Presence Test for 2020, you will have been a resident alien for all of 2020, including right now.

Passing either the Substantial Presence Test or the Green Card Test for a given year makes you a resident alien for the whole year, except as provided by First Year of Residency rules. It is your first year of residency, so First Year of Residency rules do apply, but for someone passing the Substantial Presence Test, the First Year of Residency rules say that you are a resident from when you are first present in the US that year, which for you is the beginning of the year.

So assuming that you will pass the Substantial Presence Test this year, you are a resident alien right now, and you will file this year's taxes (which you will do by April 15 of the next year) as a resident alien for the whole year, so you should present yourself to financial institutions as a resident alien to make that easier.


I came to USA in August 2015 on a F-1 visa and switched to H1-B visa in Jan 2020

Tax worldwide generally works along the line that once you are in a country for more than half a year (183 day rule) this is your tax residence.

So, you have been a resident since 2016. Yes, even students can be residents regarding taxation - you likely have no significant income, but that does not change your tax status.

It is possible the US has exceptions, but for this you need to talk to a lawyer.

  • 3
    No, the substantial presence test doesn't apply to students on F-1. We are exempted for a period of 5 years. – Hemant Jan 29 '20 at 16:42
  • Ah - NO? optnation.com/blog/f1-opt-student-tax-return-and-exemption - as per the link that only applies for Social Security / Medicare Tax. It also applies to limited on campus work or work around your studies. But if you have significant other income (i.e. starting a company, working part time as IT consultant, making lots of money trading) you still have to pay income taxes on that. – TomTom Jan 29 '20 at 16:50
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    I do pay income taxes but as a non-resident. I file 1040 NR. – Hemant Jan 30 '20 at 1:26

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