Have you heard of the Bona Fide Residence Test? Meeting the bona fide residence test will allow an expatriate to qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion. If you are a resident of a foreign country for an entire tax year, from January 1st to December 31st, you may meet qualifications for the Bona Fide Residency Test. Note, however, that simply living in a foreign country does not automatically qualify you for such status.
You must first, of course, establish residency. If you are in a foreign location for an extended time and have secured permanent living space, you have likely established residency. You may leave the country temporarily for business or vacations, so long as you intend to return to your permanent foreign residence without an extended delay.
Additional factors determine whether you are a bona fide resident of a foreign country. Both the length and nature of the stay are taken into consideration. The IRS uses information from Form 2555, Foreign Earned Income. This form will help allow ex-pats to claim the foreign earned income exclusion, and therefore must be filed.
Should your stay in the foreign country not include an entire tax year, you may qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion under the physical presence test. This test requires you to be physically present 330 full days during 12 consecutive months. Should you leave the country regardless of the reason, you will not meet the physical presence test.