I'm a foreign student on F1. I came to the US in 2018. I stayed in the US for 350 days in 2019. I'm aware of the substantial presence test that determines whether I should file as resident alien or non resident alien. There's also a rule for exempt individuals (students on F1 fall in this category), that says these individuals don't have to count days in the US for the first 5 years.

What is not clear to me is that is this exemption required or voluntary? Meaning can I choose to count days of presence anyway and file as a resident alien? The relevant IRS publication is confusing. In one place, it says "do not count days if you are an exempt individual...". In another place, it says "an exempt individual is someone who does not have to count days...". It also says that if an individual does not submit form 8843 on time, they can not exclude days in the substantial presence test.

In short, any idea if I can choose to file as resident alien?

  • Why would you want to file as a resident alien? Usually it's not a beneficial option for a foreigner.
    – littleadv
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 20:29

1 Answer 1


No, being an "exempt individual" (i.e. days exempt form the Substantial Presence Test) as an F1 student is not voluntary if you have not been an exempt individual for some part of 5 previous calendar years. You cannot choose to file as a resident alien based on your description.

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