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New Member

J-1 and j-2 filling taxes (W-7 and resident/non-resident status)


my name is Emmanuel, here my background and questions:

I come to the US as a research scholar (J-1 visa 2-year rule) from Dec 2015 to Dec 2016, I worked at the university as a Research technician to complement my budget (starting at Jan 2016 to Nov 2016), I filled my tax return for 2016 on a 1040 NR.

Later, I completed my Ph.D. back in my country (Mexico) and come again to the US as a postdoctoral Researcher (J-1 no 2-year rule) in March 2019, I got married in July 2019 in Mexico and my wife joined me in Sept 2019 with aJ-2 Visa here at the US. 

I have my SSN since 2016, my wife don't have either SSN or ITIN
so here are my questions:
can I fill 2020 tax as a resident or as a non-resident alien?
If I can file my tax as a resident alien,

can I Fille married filling jointly and request the ITIN for my wife on 2020 tax return?

I have read a lot of tax law and seems really confusing, also, TAC office n my city is closed so I'm unable to check that with IRS directly.


Thanks in advance, 


3 Replies
Expert Alumni

J-1 and j-2 filling taxes (W-7 and resident/non-resident status)

You are required to file Form 1040-NR as J1 Visa holder. Your wife is also required to file Form 1040-NR as a J2 Visa holder.  She can apply for her ITIN with a Form W7 attached to her 2020 Form 1040-NR.  You can get further information and assistance from Sprintax who specializes in nonresident tax support.

New Member

J-1 and j-2 filling taxes (W-7 and resident/non-resident status)

Thank You for your quick answer,

I just opened the account on spring tax and entered the information that I described here (my in-out of US on J-1 visa status as a research scholar) and got this from the system:



Step 1 - Residency


Based on the information you provided, you are deemed a US resident for tax purposes, which means Sprintax software isn’t suitable for you. Sprintax facilitates non-resident tax return preparation only.


Any Idea on what I need to do?



Expert Alumni

J-1 and j-2 filling taxes (W-7 and resident/non-resident status)

You will be considered as US resident in 2020 for tax purposes.  You will use the Look-Back rule for J-visa holder.  Since you were a nonresident ( exempt ) for more than two years out of the past six years ( 2014-2019), you are a resident in 2020.  


Since you are a resident, you can file jointly return with your nonresident wife.  You can also file an ITIN for your wife. This also explains why Sprintax advised you to file as a resident.  


To see a similar discussion of  look back rule, click here: Look back rule



To prepare your tax return in the program, here are the steps: 

  • In the program, as you enter the information, leave the SSN space blank
  • After entering all your information, print out returns and required forms ( write APPLIED in the spouse's space) 
  • As TurboTax does not support the Form W-7, fill out the forms by following
  • and attach to other required  documentation
  • Submit both the Form W-7 and your tax forms to IRS Austin location in Texas.  ( see Form W-7 instructions)


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