Want a green card through marriage? How your tax return might help or hurt.

Green Cards, Marriage and Taxes

As an immigration lawyer in Boston, I know next to nothing about accounting and tax law. But I do know a lot about how your tax return may impact your immigration case.

If you are going through any immigration process, you should expect immigration judges and officers to scrutinize your tax returns. For those who are in the process of applying for a green card through marriage to a permanent resident or to a U.S. citizen or who have filed an I-751 petition to remove the condition on permanent residency, I have 3 tips that may help you:
1. File your taxes jointly with your spouse using “married” status, if possible. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will consider a jointly filed, married tax return as evidence that your relationship to your spouse is bona fide or genuine. Of course, if you are seeking a permanent residency but don’t yet have a social security number it may be impossible to file your taxes jointly with your spouse.   But it is absolutely imperative that you file a married, joint tax return if possible.  The reason that this is so important is that if you file your taxes separately or as “single” immigration authorities may get suspicious and conclude that you and your spouse have a relationship that was entered into solely for the purposes of getting a green card.  If you file “single” during a time that you are married, I suggest that you consider filing an amended tax return to fix this.

2. Make sure that the address on your W-2s confirms that you live with your spouse. USCIS will want to see your entire tax return, including all schedules, W-2s, 1099s and other schedules.  And if your paycheck is directly deposited into your bank account, then you might not be paying close attention to the address listed on your paycheck or W-2.  But if you are trying to convince an immigration officer that you live with your spouse, you had better be sure that address on your W-2 or paycheck should reflect that you and your spouse do in fact live together.

3. Provide your IRS tax transcripts to immigration authorities.  Whether you are in Immigration Court or appearing at an interview before a USCIS immigration officer, I recommend that you bring with you your IRS-certified tax transcripts and not a copy of your tax return.  The transcripts prove that your return was actually filed and is on record with the IRS and, therefore, is stronger evidence for immigration purposes.  I’ve seen plenty of denial letters from USCIS that say something along the lines of “although you provided photocopies of your tax return, you did not submit IRS-certified tax transcripts.”  The IRS tax transcripts are available at the IRS office in the JFK Federal Building, next to USCIS Boston District Office or can be obtained by filing Form 4506-T with IRS.

If you have more questions about taxes and immigration or any other immigration topic or if you need representation in Immigration Court or elsewhere, please click below to schedule an appointment.