OISS has received many inquiries relating to whether international students and scholars are eligible to receive the stimulus payment from the U.S. government. Eligibility is dependent upon your tax residency status—thus, J-1s and F-1s who are Resident Aliens for federal tax purposes are potentially eligible.

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NOTE: Persons who may have erroneously filed a 1040 when they should have filed a 1040NR as a nonresident alien for tax purposes likely will also receive this award.  For persons in this situation, UC Santa Barbara has received the following recommendations from Arctic International LLC, the vendor that provides the institution with its Glacier and Glacier Tax Prep software:


Return of Stimulus Payment:

With respect to the erroneous receipt of the stimulus payment, most importantly, the nonresident alien should NOT spend the erroneously received stimulus payment.To return the payment, we suggest that the individual follow the same guidelines provided by the IRS for when an incorrect federal tax refund is received, which are based on how the erroneous refund was received:

  • Paper check that has not yet been cashed/deposited;
  • Paper check that has already be cashed/deposited; or
  • Direct deposit made to the nonresident alien’s U.S. bank account.  

For detailed information about how to return the incorrectly received stimulus payment to the IRS for each of the situations above, please see https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc161 .


Amendment of Incorrectly Filed 2018 and/or 2019 Federal Income Tax Return:

It is important to note that if the nonresident alien does not immediately return the erroneously received stimulus payment, he or she may be subject to interest accrued until the payment is returned.  Also, until such time as the incorrectly filed federal income tax return is amended to submit the correct federal income tax return, the nonresident alien is subject to a filing penalty and/or loss of any otherwise applicable deductions or allowances, including income tax treaty exemptions.  While immigration issues are beyond the scope of our expertise, it is important to note that failure to file a correct federal income tax return and/or filing a fraudulent federal income tax return are violations of U.S. tax law and may potentially impact current or future immigration status.


Additional Resources 

The IRS provides a number of interactive tax tools that can assist interested individuals in determining eligibility to file taxes and on what form; please see the links below: