Green Card and Substantial Presence Tests

What is the "Green-Card" Test?

If an individual is a permanent resident alien (i.e. a green-card holder) at any time during the calendar year, he or she will have met the green-card test and be treated as a resident alien for tax purposes for that entire year.

What is the "Substantial Presence" Test?

Nonresident aliens meet the substantial presence test if they have spent more than 183 days in the U.S. To meet the substantial presence test, and thus be considered a resident alien for tax purposes, an alien must at least:

  1. be physically present for 31 days in the current year, and
  2. be physically present for 183 days (as calculated below) or more during the 3-year period consisting of the current year and the 2 immediately prior years. The total days are calculated as follows:
    1. All days of presence in the current calendar year plus
    2. One-third of days of presence during the previous calendar year plus
    3. One-sixth of days of presence during the second-preceding calendar year

If you meet the substantial presence test for a calendar year, your residency starting date is generally the first day you are present in the United States during that calendar year.

Please Note: Students on a F-1 visa or J-1 student visa and Teachers/Researchers on a J-1 visa are generally classified as "exempt individuals". An "exempt individual" is any person who is temporarily exempt from the substantial presence test. Time spent as an "exempt individual" does not count toward the 183 days in the U.S. Students present in the U.S. under an "F", "J", "M," or "Q" immigration status are exempt from the substantial presence test for 5 years. Teachers/Researchers present in the U.S. under a "J" or "Q" immigrations status are exempt from the substantial presence test for two years (including the current and past six calendar years). However, any part of a calendar year in which the student/teacher/researcher is present in the U.S. counts as a full year.