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I'm an H-1B holder married to an F-1 student for the middle of 2016.

I have insurance coverage through my employer. My F-1 wife doesn't have health insurance. She only has student insurance covered in certain semesters mostly to fulfill school requirements. My wife is still in school and doesn't engage any employment. She doesn't have an SSN either.

This year I'm thinking about filing jointly, and I just don't know if we have to pay the healthcare tax penalty.

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According to the IRS (look at the 11th question on this page) a nonresident alien is not covered by the individual mandate. If your wife has been in the country for less than 5 years on the F-1 visa, she is a nonresident alien.

You will still need to file a W-7 to get an ITIN for her if you wish to file jointly with her.

Some school insurance plans may qualify if she is considered a resident alien and subject to the mandate. You may want to look into that further if that applies.

  • If she was nonresident alien, then which 1040 version suitable for filing? Before marriage, I've passed the presence test for filing as resident. Filing W-7 to get ITIN, for sure. – sng Feb 1 '17 at 20:48
  • My understanding is that you just need to attach a declaration to whichever 1040 you are using to file. I think you'd be wise to review this page for any number of other circumstances that might apply that you haven't mentioned here: irs.gov/publications/p519/index.html – Nathan L Feb 1 '17 at 20:54
  • @sng: If she were a nonresident, the only way for you to file jointly with her is to use Nonresident Spouse Treated as Resident. I am not sure whether using that would make her ineligible for the exemption from the penalty due to being a nonresident alien. – user102008 Feb 1 '17 at 23:06

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