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FICA Exemptions For F, J, M, And Q Visa Holders

Foreign Students or Exchange Students

Federal law provides that:

Work performed by foreign nonresidents temporarily admitted to the U.S. under sections 101(a)(15)(F), (J),(M), and (Q) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, is not covered by Social Security if:

  • The work is performed to carry out the purpose(s) for which the foreign nonresidents were admitted to this country, or Note: Work by a student or exchange visitor other than that performed to carry out the purpose for which he or she was admitted is not excluded from Social Security coverage. However, if the foreign national has received special permission to work, then he or she may be excluded from coverage.
  • Special permission to work has been granted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (in the case of a student) or by the sponsor of an exchange visitor.
The exclusion from coverage applies to four categories of Visa holders:

  • F-1 Bona fide students admitted to pursue a course study at an established school or other recognized place of study approved by the Attorney General;
  • J-1 Bona fide students, scholars, trainees, teachers, research assistants, or specialists, admitted to participate in a program designated by the Secretary of State for the purpose of teaching, consulting, demonstrating special skills, or receiving training;
  • M-1 Bona fide students at a vocational or training school; and
  • Q-1 Beginning October 1994, foreign exchange visitors admitted to participate in an International Cultural Exchange Program for the purpose of providing practical training and sharing culture, history, and traditions of the visitor's country.
Work performed by the spouse or child of an exchange visitor is covered by Social Security.


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