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OPT to H1B tax filing Tips. Multiple W2 Forms, Multiple States ? Domicile ?

OPT to H1B tax filing If you were a Student who have done MS or MBA in US on F1 Visa and changed your visa status to H1B utilizing the OPT period, there may be scenarios where you were working with multiple companies in multiple states. If that was the scenario during, OPT you may have got multiple W2 Forms and you may be confused how to deal with this. I will address few of the thing that you have to keep in mind  for tax filing. I was exactly in the same boat and confused…If you are not on OPT and just on F1 Visa, you read : Should all F1 students file taxes? When ? Information on International students (F1 Visa) tax filing?

OPT to H1B Multiple Tax forms

If you were to work for multiple companies during OPT period, you should have got multiple W2 Forms. Legally, you are supposed to get the W2 Forms. If you have not got W2 Forms from your previous employer or you have lost it in mail or any kind of issues, you MUST get in touch with your previous employer and make sure you have all those W2 forms. If a company took your SSN and had your pay check running on your SSN and you do not get a W2 Form from them, then there is something wrong. You have to fix that. IRS will not forgive you, it is your duty to make sure you file taxes for all your employment pay period.  Do not be confused if you have multiple W2 forms.

How to file taxes with Multiple Tax forms on OPT :

It is nothing different from tax filing perspective. It is just regular tax filing. You use the same forms. There are no special rules. If you were on OPT you do not need to pay Social Security and Medicare. If your employer has held or cut money for these you can ask for the refund for the OPT period for Medicare and Social Security.

OPT and Multiple companies in Different States Tax filing:

If you have worked for multiple companies and supposedly they are in different states, you have to do separate state tax filing for every state. From Federal tax filing perspective nothing is different, but from State tax filing perspective, you have to file individually and mail to each state with Tax filing forms for that particular state.   For some states like Texas, you do not need to file state taxes. For states other than like Texas, you have to do state tax filing. You should check the state tax website for clarifications as such.

Should you use Tax Consultant or do it yourself for OPT to H1B tax filing ?

This is kind of debatable question. If you know how to do everything and put in all your deductibles like Tuition fee, eco friendly car, donations,  and all other items that are exempt form taxes, you can do it on your own. But, if you do not know all this, you should go to a tax consultant.  Personal opinion, I went to a tax consultant when I was on OPT and changed to H1B visa, because I had 4 states tax filing to do and I was confused. H&R block and others charge you more. You should ask your friends for some Desi or International tax consultant who can help you file taxes better from an international student or H1B holder tax filing perspective.  It is up to you do decide, Also if your income is less than $57,000 in 2009, you  can use the free e-filing from IRS website by selecting a provider . Be careful and seek advice if you do not know. Taxes are very important and do not mess with taxes.

Moving from states and Domicile claims for Tax filing

You have to be careful when you claim Domicile for tax benefits. Do not get confused by reading this term Domicile, just make sure you put in the correct dates you have stayed in a state or you have started to stay in a state.  It is important from state’s perspective to tax you as a resident or non-resident. So, be careful here. I got a letter from state that I had claimed wrong, in fact I messed up the dates, then I had to re-send the tax forms and I got more money back… The point is, be careful when putting in the dates and claiming domicile, if you are not sure, go to a good tax consultant at least for this year for more info as you have OPT and H1B status and multiple states. This can be very important to claim additional benefits like In-state tuition for studying on H1B visa and live in a state for more than one year .

Do you have anything to share about OPT and H1B visa status change and tax filing.

Image Credit : http://www.flickr.com/photos/alancleaver/4122172006/


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  1. Hi! I came to the USA in July 2014 and was on an F1 visa until May 15, 2019, and been on cap-exempt H1B since May 16, 2019. Since I was on H1B for more than 183 days in 2019, can I consider myself as a Resident Alien for the year and use the standard deduction and file 1040. Please let me know. any help appreciated.

    • Prana,
      Technically, if you were in US more than 183 days, you pass the substantial presence test to file as resident.

  2. Hi Saurabh, i have a question for tax year 2016. In that year, from Jan-Oct, my status is OPT. From Oct to the end of that year, I am on H1B. In 2017, From Jan-March, I was on H1B. I quit my job and not present in U.S for 5 months. From August 2017 to now, I am on a F1 visa again. I haven’t file my return for the tax year 2016 because I just received the late arrived W2 forms. So my question is-
    1. For tax year 2016, which form should I use, 1040NR or 1040?
    2. Since my visa status changes in 2016, I knew that OPT status I can be exempted from SSN tax and Medicare tax, how about h1B, will I still be exempted from those tax? if there is a difference about tax policy, do I need to file separate forms for my 2 different visa type period? Thank you!

  3. Jan to Sept 2014 – OPT
    Oct 2014 to end of year – H1B status

    Only Federal taxes in Texas, How to file my taxes? 1040 EZ? 1040? or 1040 NR-EZ? or 1040 NR?

  4. Hello,

    I am on my OPT and working full time for a company. I filled the i8233 form for tax exemption to be eligible for exemption from Federal Tax. I was approved. I want to know if I don’t switch my status yo H1-B before the tax filling for next year, do I have to pay federal tax when i file tax returns.


  5. All,
    I am preparing my taxes for this year and have a question on if I should file 1040 or 1040NR. I was on F1-OPT from Jan 2013 – Oct 2013 and then switched to H1 through COS. I’ve been in the US on F1 for less than 5 years.

    The number of days in 214 on H1B = 92
    Number of days in 2013 on H1B = 92
    Number of days in 2013 on F1-OPT = 273 (these days don’t count as the are expemt)
    According to substantial presence test I was in the US for 92 + (92/3) = 123 days

    Please tell me if this calculation is correct, if it is I have to file in 1040 NR

  6. Hi Saurabh,
    I graduated in May 2012 and worked right after on OPT. I then changed my status from OPT to H1-B on January 2014. When I filed my taxes for 2013 today (in California), I was asked if I was a student in 2013: I said no but I was working on OPT in 2013. My refund was less than what I had last year. The people who filed my taxes said it was because I was a student for 2012 taxes and I had the right to an additional $1000 refund back then but not for this year.
    Since I was on OPT in 2013 was I considered a student for this year taxes purposes?

  7. Hi Saurabh,
    I am exactly under the condition “OPT and Multiple companies in Different States Tax filing”. I worked for 1 company in 1 state under CPT and moved to another state and worked for another company under OPT. My question is: if I file 1 Fed tax return form (1040NR-EZ), then it means I will add two box 1: “Wages,tips, other compensation” of W2 together. Then, what should I put in line “federal adjusted gross income” for tax return forms of both states? If I use the number added together from two W2, then would I be state-taxed more than I should? since I only earned part of my income from either state. Should I use only the W2 from 1 company in 1 state for this state’s tax return without taking the another W2 from another company in another state into consideration? Thanks!

    • Ankur,
      I would defer the question to a CPA. Tax code is not simple and when in confusion its better to check w/ them.

      You can also do online filing using turbo tax.

  8. Hi Saurabh,

    I have few questions on tax like what forms I should fill in out. I think there might be a couple of people like me who are in the same situation.

    I came to USA on December 14th 2009 on F-1 visa status and I completed my Master’s from USC (Jan 2010 – December 2011). Then from January 2012, I started working in a Company where I was on the OPT from Jan 2012 – September 2012 and same company filed an H-1B for me and from October 2012, I was on H1B status.

    Now tax season has started and I am supposed to file Tax returns. I am not sure what forms I am supposed to fill out.

    I am Single.

    Can anyone provide some suggestions or thoughts?

    • Raihan,
      You need to complete 1040 for the federal tax. Your state will have its own return.

      You can either file it through turbo tax or through a CPA. They will take care of the forms etc.

  9. Hi Saurabh,

    I worked on OPT from February 2012- September 2012. From October 2012, I was on H1B. I understand from reading articles that I should have filed the 1040NR form. But my tax consultant filed the 1040 form and he said it is becuase only CPT students will fail the test, but if your on OPT and H1B, you are eligible to file as resident. Please help me with suggestions as to which form must be used.

    • Sharanya Madhavan,
      Your status changed to H-1 in October, so you are no longer a non-resident. OPT is still non-resident as your status is F-1.

      Note that I am no tax expert.

  10. Hi Saurabh,
    I was on OPT from Feb 6th 2012 till Jan 29th 2013. My employer filled for my H1B and it was approved from Oct 1st 2012. Does this mean i was on H1B from Oct. If so, it seems like I was on dual Visa status during the year 2012. To file tax returns what forms should i use? I got married in June of 2012 and she came here on F2 and then we got her H4 done in Jan 2013. So if I have to claim her as my dependent what other forms should I use? Do I need to submit a 1040NR and 8843 to get tax returns? My wife doesnt have ITIN, so is it ok if I submit the W7 along with my returns to claim her as my dependent?

    • Vinay Kowshik,
      If your H-1 was approved w/ COS i.e. H-1 petition was accompanied w/ an I-94, then you were indeed on H-1 status from Oct 1.

      This means you were supposed to get paid as per the H-1 LCA, and the employer needs to deduct social security taxes (which are not deducted when you work on OPT).

      You will have to file federal and state tax returns using your W-2 and 1099s (if any). You can file the return as married filing jointly and also apply for ITIN while submitting the same form. I am not a tax adviser, so you can check w/ a CPA about this.

      • My H1B Application was done as a Consular Notification. So it was not approved with COS. I had to get H1B Stamped before the validity on my EAD Expired. So I was on F1 OPT thoughout the year. I got my H1B Stamped only recently. Can I file my returns using 1040NR with W7 for my wife to obtain a ITIN alongwith documents to obtain the same?

        • And thanks a lot Saurabh for all your help. It is so much clear now. I was really worried about the procedure to file returns. Your help is greatly appreciated.

        • Vinay Kowshik,
          In that case you need to file 1040NR for 2012 and submit W-7 to get the ITIN for your wife. Also, 1040NR is for the federal return, you also need to file state return.

  11. Hello,

    My H1b starts on Oct 1st, 2012. I was on my Opt before that. I came to US on Aug 22, 2007. Now I’m a resident alien. I was wondering what tax forms I should file.


    • Chris,
      You should let your employer know about the H-1 status so that they can start collecting social security taxes from your paycheck.

  12. Hello,

    My H1-b ended in November 2011 about 2 months before the end date i applied for change of status to a student visa. However i ended up getting a couple RFE’s and finally my change of status was approved in March 2012. So as of the last day of 2011 my status was neither H1-b nor student. What will my tax filing status. Will I fill the taxes as an International student ( from India) or i file the taxes as and H1-b? Please guide.


  13. Hi,

    I have a problem which needs a answer. I am currently on OPT and it will expire on june 14 2012 and i cant apply my OPT extension until June 7 2012 since i didnt receive my diplome yet. So i can apply for it on June 7. I applied for H1 on April 2 2012, i dont know it will approve or not. So I must apply for cap- gap for that. can i apply cap-gap and OPT extension at the same time. Would it create an problem due to 2 new i-20 which will be issued in short span of time… what i have to do.
    Do i need to apply for OPT extension?
    Do i need to apply for Cap Gap?
    Do i need to apply for both what would happen?

    Please let me know.


    • Suresh,
      If H-1 is filed w/ COS w requested start date of Oct 1 and if you are maintaining legal status at the time of filing, then you are automatically eligible for cap-gap. You don’t need to apply for cap-gap separately, but just inform your school DSO about it. If you have doubts that H-1 may be rejected, then OPT extension needs to be applied. If H-1 gets approved, then they would reject the OPT extension. Cap-gap allows you to stay and work until Oct 1 or H-1 denial date (whichever is earlier).

  14. Hi,

    Thanks very useful post. I am in a similar situation. OPT from June to September and then on H1B. Can anyone advise if I need to fill a 1040 or 1040 NR?



  15. Hey

    I am also in same situation. My wife and myself transformed from OPT to H1bin oct 2011. My company did not hold our social security taxes for our OPT period. And we got married in may 2011. So we have to file jointly this year. I am sure it will increase our tax bracket. is there any way to file and get max return?

  16. Hi, I have a similar problem. I was on my opt starting August 2010 to Sep 2011. Since october 1st 2011, I’m on H1b. How do I file my taxes to get maximum return. Most of my income is in the opt period thus i would like to tap maximum tax exemption benefit. FYI..I also got married this year. Please help me suggest the best possible way to file taxes.

    • If you informed your employer at the right time about the OPT to H-1 switch, then your W2 will have already taken care of the taxes i.e. no Social Security and Medicaid for income on OPT. You can check your W2 to see if your numbers are correct.

      If your spouse is not working, then it would be better to file jointly as that would reduce the tax bracket. The spouse will have to file ITIN along w/ the tax filing (assuming the spouse doesn’t have an ITIN or SSN yet).


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