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Tax Returns and Their Immigration Consequences

Tax season is finally here and many individuals may be wondering whether or not taxes can affect their immigration status. The answer to that question is simply yes. For instance, in order to become a U.S citizen a person must exhibit good moral character. An individual, who fails to pay their taxes, will show a lack of it. Therefore, it is recommended that the person pays his/her dues or gets a payment plan known as “offer in compromise” with the IRS.

If the person is a permanent resident and has filed his or her taxes as a non-resident or in a foreign country, this action may lead the government to believe that he or she has discontinued their residency. In addition the U.S. Customs and Border Protection will ask the individual about earned income somewhere not inside the U.S. and has been living there, then he or she may be sent to an Immigration court for removal of proceedings. Afterwards, the person will have to prove to an immigration judge that their intention was not to terminate residency in the U.S.

Furthermore, the way that the taxes are filed may also affect an individual’s marriage petition. If a person is trying to file for permanent residency based on his or her marital status to a person who is a U.S citizen or permanent resident, that individual must show proof that the marriage is genuine. Aside from that, the government will verify that the taxes were filed jointly with the individual’s significant other. Likewise, if that person would like to change his or her residency from a traditional two year residence to a permanent ten years residence, USCIS will verify whether the couple’s taxes were filed jointly.

It is also crucial that not only immigrants file their taxes but also those who are petitioners and sponsors. Following the immigration petition and person’s relative application for residence, the sponsor/joint sponsor must be at least 125% of the poverty guideline. USCIS will look at the person’s last three years of income to decide eligibility.

An individual who has no legal status in the United States can still file his or her taxes by acquiring a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) from the IRS. It is recommended for undocumented immigrants to build a history of paying taxes in the U.S for possible future relief.


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