Marriage-Based Green Card: Best Guide to Tax Returns

Let's talk about taxes and how they're important for showing that your marriage to a US citizen spouse or lawful permanent resident is real when you're applying for a marriage-based green card

Josh Goldstein, who knows a lot about immigration, especially in Los Angeles, has some helpful things to say about this. Let's explore our best guide to tax returns, highlighting the most important points to consider if you’re married to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident.

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Proving the Real Deal

It's really important to show that your marriage is real when you're applying for marriage-based green card immigration. USCIS and immigration agencies want proof that your relationship is genuine. Josh says it's crucial to demonstrate this through your money matters.

The Power of Joint Finances

Josh has decades of experience as an immigration lawyer. He says that sharing money really matters when it comes to getting a green card through marriage-based green card immigration. Submitting joint tax returns isn’t just paperwork; it's a strong way to show that your relationship is real.

Green Cards, Marriage, and Taxes: Best Guide to Success

Understanding the impact of your tax return on your marriage-based green card immigration case is important. Let's discuss how it could influence your chances of obtaining a green card through marriage.

Scrutiny of Tax Returns in Marriage-based Green Card Immigration Processes

Be ready for a close look at your tax returns by immigration judges and officers if you're applying for a green card through marriage or filing an I-751 petition.

Tips to Boost Your Immigration Case

Below are simple and important tips to make your marriage-based green card immigration case stronger. Taking practical steps like filing taxes with your spouse or verifying details on your W-2 form can significantly assist you in the process of obtaining your green card.

Let's look at these easy-to-follow suggestions that can make a big difference in your marriage-based green card immigration journey.

1. File Taxes Jointly with Your Spouse:
  • Consider filing jointly with your US citizen or permanent resident spouse using the "married" status.
  • Immigration Services USCIS views a jointly filed, married tax return as evidence of a genuine relationship.
  • Filing separately may raise suspicions about the authenticity of your marriage.

If seeking to become a lawful permanent resident without a social security number, filing jointly is imperative.

  • Note: If you've filed as "single" during marriage, consider amending your tax return.
2. Address Confirmation on W-2s:
  • USCIS examines your entire tax return, including schedules, W-2s, and 1099s.
  • Ensure the address on your IRS Form W-2 confirms you’re residing with your spouse.
  • Pay attention to the address listed on your paycheck or W-2, especially if your paycheck is directly deposited.
3. Provide IRS Tax Transcripts:
  • IRS-certified tax transcripts are stronger evidence for marriage-based green card immigration purposes than a mere copy of your tax return.
  • Denial letters often cite the absence of IRS-certified tax transcripts as a shortcoming.
  • Obtain IRS tax transcripts at the IRS office in the JFK Federal Building or by filing Form 4506-T with the IRS.
Find insights into taxes in marriage-based green card applications. Discover crucial tips and insights for a smoother immigration journey.

The Burning Question: Jointly or Separately?

Addressing a common concern, Josh strongly suggests joint tax filing. USCIS favors it, increasing your chances of green card approval. 

However, he acknowledges situations where filing separately may make financial sense. For example, filing separately may be a better choice when significant back taxes are owed by a spouse.

The Legal Lowdown

Josh explains that you don't have to file taxes together for a marriage-based green card—it's not a must. Even if you file separately, it's possible to get approval, but it's something they can choose to consider. In such cases, you need more proof to make your case stronger.

Overcoming the Separate Dilemma

If filing separately becomes a necessity, Josh advises building a robust case with alternative evidence. This may include photos, joint financial arrangements beyond taxes, shared assets, and travel history—a comprehensive portrayal of your genuine relationship.

Josh Goldtein's Bottom Line

Josh concludes with a straightforward takeaway: if you can file jointly, it's a powerful move in your marriage-based green card immigration strategy. However, if separate filing is inevitable, be prepared to present a compelling case with supporting evidence.

Marriage-based Green Card Immigration Assistance

Schedule an appointment for personalized assistance if you have more questions about marriage-based green card immigration. We can assist with common forms that need to be completed, such as Form I-485 help with green cards through marriage application processes.

Speak to us about taxes and immigration services or if you need Immigration Court representation. Alternatively, you can complete our online questionnaire below to arrange a free strategy session with a marriage-based green card immigration expert.

Your green card journey is within reach, and understanding the details of tax implications with the help of an immigration attorney will make a significant difference!


Do you have questions about taxes and how they relate to your marriage-based green card application? Find the most frequently asked questions and answers here!

1. Do I have to give three years of tax returns for my green card application? 

Usually, the US government wants proof of your taxes for the latest year (usually the year before), but sponsors (and co-sponsors, if there are any) can choose to give tax supporting documents from the past three years.

2. How should I submit tax returns of my spouse doesn’t work?

You can choose "married filing jointly," which is a status for married couples who want to file one return together, even if one spouse doesn't earn any money.

3. What does USCIS check in tax returns?

When you send in your tax papers, make sure everything is there, including all the needed schedules. Sometimes, USCIS might ask for more schedules, statements, or other papers if what you gave them doesn't prove the petitioner can pay.

4. Which way is better for married couples when doing taxes? 

In most cases, it's usually smarter to qualify for more tax benefits.

5. What tax papers do I need to send? 

If someone is sponsoring your green card through marriage, they have to include proof of their US federal tax returns when filing Form I-864 or the Affidavit of Support. This is required by immigration law to make sure you won't cause a big burden on public resources when living in the United States.

6. What if my spouse doesn’t have a Social Security Number (SSN) yet?

They can still file taxes together by getting an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Just complete Form W-7 and send it in with the tax return. Talking to a reliable tax professional can help you understand your options better.

7. Does being unemployed when I filed taxes affect my sponsorship?

There’s no need to worry if you were briefly without employment. USCIS cares more about how much money the sponsor made overall and is making now. 

If the latest tax return shows enough earnings, a short time without a job isn't a big deal. But if they think a joint sponsor is needed, USCIS might ask for more proof.