Must You Pay Social Security and Medicare Tax?
Nonresident aliens who are F-1, J-1, M-1 or Q-1 visa holders are not subject to social security and Medicare taxes (FICA) on services are performed to carry out the purpose for which they are admitted to the United States [IRC sec. 3121(b)(19)]. This generally includes on-campus work for which authorization is granted on Form I-94, Arrival and Departure Record, or Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.
A nonresident alien admitted to the US as a student is not permitted to work off campus for a wage or to engage in business unless given approval by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS). This should be noted on the student’s copy of Immigration Form I-20, or Form I-688B, Employment Authorization Document.
Off-campus work due to severe economic necessity or for optional practical training is considered by the IRS to qualify for the exemption. The IRS does not consider other off-campus work performed by a nonresident alien student to be performed to carry out the purpose of a student visa.