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FAQ / LIGHTHOUSE ARTICLES:

(#129-06/16/00)

Bringing money into the US/
Taxes during Practical Training


Q. I am planning on going to Las Vegas to gamble on my trip to the United States. I am a big gambler. How much money can I bring in to the US?

A. There is no limit on the total amount of monetary instruments which may be brought in to or taken out of the United States, nor is it illegal to do so. However, if you physically transport or cause to be transported (including by mail or other means) more than $10,000 in monetary instruments on any occasion in to or out of the United States, or if you receive more than that amount, you must file Form 4790, Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments with US Customs. Failure to comply can result in civil, criminal and/or forfeiture penalties.

Monetary instruments include US or foreign coin in current circulation, currency, travelers checks in any form, money orders, and negotiable instruments or investment securities in bearer form.

On the other hand, a transfer of funds through normal banking procedures which does not involve the physical transportation of currency or monetary instruments is not required to be reported. Therefore, the simple solution would be to wire transfer the money into a US bank account prior to traveling. If you do not have a US bank account many casinos can assist you with this matter. Contact "casino services."


Q. I am on an F-1 visa working under authorized practical training. I was told by a friend that many people on F, M and J visas are not subject to US social security and Medicare withholding. My employer withheld the taxes from my pay. What should I do to get a refund of my social security and Medicare?

A. If social security tax was withheld in error from pay received, which was not subject to the tax, contact the employer who withheld the tax for reimbursement. If you are unable to get a refund from the employer, file a claim for refund with the Internal Revenue Service on Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement.

Attach the following to your claim:

a copy of the Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, to prove the amount of social security tax withheld,

a copy of INS Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record,

a copy of INS Form I-538, Application of Nonimmigrant Student (F1) for Extension to Stay, School Transfer or Permission to Accept or Continue Employment, and a statement signed by the student stating that he/she has asked the employer for reimbursement of social security tax withheld in error but has been unable to get a refund.

For additional details contact the IRS at 800-829-1040 and request publication 519. Then read pages 4 -6 and page 39. Other useful forms are form 8843 and form 843. The publications and forms are also available at their website at http://www.irs.ustreas.gov.

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