Common Terminology

Non-resident alien (NRA)

An NRA is a foreign national who is on a temporary visa and is not making a permanent home in the U.S.

Resident alien

A resident alien is a non-U.S. citizen making a permanent home in the U.S. A resident alien is taxed the same as a U.S. citizen.

Tax Treaty

Many countries have a tax treaty with the U.S. that provides for specific exceptions to federal tax withholding. Each tax treaty is different.


A visa is an endorsement on a passport granting the bearer permission to be in the U.S. Valid documents for a visa include I-20, IAP-66, I-797, I-94, and certain EAD cards.


Wages consist of all payments for services rendered as an employee.

Withholding allowance

A withholding allowance is the number of exemptions you claim on a W-4 or DE-4 to calculate tax deductions.

Withholding tax

Both state and federal income withholding tax is withheld from your payroll check in accordance with tax laws. These deductions are deposited to your credit with the State of California and the Internal Revenue Service.