I've been living in the US for two years on an L1-B visa. I bought a house and changed my address with my bank. A week later, I received a form W-8BEN and a letter requesting additional information, including my foreign address.

I have done some research but it's not clear to me whether this was a mistake or not. I obviously pay income tax regularly in the US (I use my bank for automatic deposits), and even though I'm not a permanent resident I am still a resident (and I believe I can be considered a "US person"). As far as I'm concerned I pay taxes and earn money the same way as any American citizen. And, obviously, I have a SSN and everything.

Do I really need to fill in form W-8BEN?

  • What country of citizenship are you from?
    – Michael
    Mar 15, 2017 at 1:16
  • @Michael C. Brazil Mar 15, 2017 at 2:20

1 Answer 1


Same situation here - I'm from Brazil, moved to the U.S. under an L1-B visa, and I've had this issue many, many times.

My tax consultants (PwC) explained to me very clearly that, because of the "Substantial Presence Test" (ie, add the days you've been in the US on the previous, plus the year before that divided by whatever, etc), I'm considered a US Resident for Tax Purposes, which is part of the definition of a US Person for the IRS.

For that reason, my tax consultants told me that I should be filing W-9 and not W-8BEN forms. What I noticed is that apparently many banks don't really understand this concept for some reason, and they "forced" me to fill a W-8BEN. When I had this issue, I talked with my tax consultants and they assured me the banks were wrong. But since I couldn't move forward with what I was doing without a W-8BEN they told me to fill it anyway.

Guess what? After a few weeks, the legal dept of the bank reviewed whatever application I had and they said that I had made a mistake - that I should have filled a W-9...

Good luck!

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