Exempt Individuals: Teachers and Trainees


A teacher or trainee is an individual, other than a student, who is temporarily in the United States under a "J " or "Q " visa and substantially complies with the requirements of that visa. You are considered to have substantially complied with the visa requirements if you have not engaged in activities that are prohibited by U.S. immigration laws and could result in the loss of your visa status. Any nonimmigrant temporarily present in the U.S. in "J" or "Q" status who is not a student is included within the definition of "Teacher or Trainee." For example, alien physicians, au pairs, short-term scholars, and summer camp workers temporarily present in the U.S. in "J" nonimmigrant status are included within the IRS definition of "Teacher or Trainee." In addition, cultural exchange visitors in "Q" nonimmigrant status are also included within the IRS definition of "Teacher or Trainee".

Also Included Are Immediate Family Members of Exempt Teachers and Trainees

Members of the immediate family include the individual's spouse and unmarried children (whether by blood or adoption), but only if the spouse's or unmarried children's nonimmigrant statuses are derived from, and dependent on, the exempt individual's visa classification. Unmarried children are included only if they meet all the following:

  • Are under 21 years of age.
  • Reside regularly in the exempt individual's household.
  • Are not members of another household.

The immediate family of an exempt individual does not include attendants, servants, or personal employees.

When a Teacher or Trainee is Not Exempt

You will not be an exempt individual as a teacher or trainee if you were exempt as a teacher, trainee, or student for any part of 2 of the 6 calendar years preceding the current year. However, you will be an exempt individual if you were exempt as a teacher, trainee, or student for any part of 3 (or fewer) of the 6 preceding calendar years and:

  • A foreign employer paid all of your compensation during the current year.
  • A foreign employer paid all of your compensation during each of the preceding 6 years you were present in the United States as a teacher or trainee.

A foreign employer includes an office or place of business of an American entity in a foreign country or a U.S. possession.

If you qualify to exclude days of presence as a teacher or trainee, you must file a fully-completed Form 8843, Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition with the IRS. Attach Form 8843 to your U.S. federal income tax return for the tax year. If you do not have to file return, send Form 8843 to the Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service Center, Austin TX 73301-0215 by the due date (including extensions) for filing Form 1040NR.


Carla is temporarily present in the United States as a teacher on a “J” visa. She entered the United States on August 15, 2018 and is employed by a university in the United States. She had never been in the United States prior to 2018. Carla’s compensation while she is in the United States was not paid by a foreign employer. Carla is an exempt individual for calendar years 2018 and 2019. However, for calendar year 2020 she is no longer an exempt individual because she was present in the United States on a J visa in two pf the 76 calendar years (2018 and 2019) preceding calendar year 2020. For calendar year 2020, Carla must count her days of presence in the United States for purposes of the Substantial Presence Test.

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