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USCIS Tax Return Requirement

When you need legal information about a USCIS Tax Return requirement, lawyers from the firm of Tadeo & Silva Immigration Attorneys can help. Contact us now!

Author: Massiel Silva Tadeo, Founder, Tadeo & Silva

Attorney Massiel Silva Tadeo is a partner and owner at The Tadeo & Silva Law Firm. She specializes in removal (deportation) defense, family immigration, and hardship waivers. Updated on: November 07, 2022.

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Can USCIS Ask for Tax Returns?

All green card holders are tax residents, but only some non-immigrant visa holders are tax residents. If you find this confusing, don’t worry. The American tax system is so confusing that even U.S. citizens face difficulties filing their tax returns.

Those who are not U.S. citizens can fall into two categories for tax purposes: Resident Alien (green card holder or permanent resident) and Nonresident Alien (individuals who are not U.S. citizens but have passed the green card tests or the substantial presence test). 

Consequently, if you hold a non-immigrant visa, you will be considered a US tax resident if you have lived in the country for more than 31 days during the current tax year and 183 days during the preceding two years.

In general, U.S. tax law applies to you if you spend a significant amount of time in the U.S. or if you live there. The agency accountable for collecting taxes and enforcing tax laws is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The consequences of individuals’ tax filing status can affect their immigration status and ability to naturalize as a U.S. citizen. In addition to immigration matters, citizenship/ naturalization attorneys can also help with tax returns. If you want to avoid risking your immigration status, hiring an immigration lawyer can be helpful.

Does Immigration Check Your Taxes?

The USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) is not responsible for ensuring individuals have paid their taxes. But, other U.S. federal government agencies are responsible and willing to share information regarding taxpayers.

If you are a resident alien but decide to file taxes as a nonresident alien in order to pay less tax, that can affect your immigration status. Although USCIS is not responsible for taxes, this agency can consider that decision as your intent to give up your permanent residence. That can further result in being summoned to Immigration Court under removal proceedings.


Does USCIS Check Tax Returns for Green Cards?


Falling behind on your taxes usually won’t prevent your green card from being renewed. But, it may negatively affect some of the immigration benefits you may be available for in the future.

Even if you fail to renew your green card, you remain a lawful permanent resident when it comes to tax obligations. IRS requires you to file federal income tax even if your green card has expired.

How Many Years of Tax Returns Are Required for Citizenship?

Tax returns can be crucial proof of naturalization eligibility if you want to obtain United States citizenship.

The individual must bring certified tax returns for the last five years on the interview day. If that individual is married to a U.S. citizen, then certified tax transcripts for the last three years are required.


USCIS Tax Return Requirement for Naturalization


Good moral character is among the requirements for naturalized citizenship in the U.S. Paying taxes and filing tax returns on time is considered part of showing good moral character. Being up to date with your federal tax returns is crucial even if you don’t want to apply for naturalized U.S. citizenship.

A tax payment plan, if needed, can be arranged with the IRS if you have failed to file returns in the past. However, be aware that this must be done well before your naturalization application. At the naturalization interview, the letter from the IRS detailing the payment plan can be presented. In spite of owing the IRS money, you can prove good moral character by bringing receipts for payments made up to that point.

It can be difficult for those with a green card to become U.S. citizens if they cannot provide federal income tax returns for every year since getting a green card.

Green Card Application Tax Return

A marriage-based green card application typically requires proof of a good-faith marriage with a lawful permanent resident or a U.S. citizen. One of the most common pieces of evidence of a good faith marriage is tax returns, filed jointly or separately as a married couple. If the couple filed joint taxes, they would need to provide their federal tax return transcript as well as other supporting documents.

If the sponsoring spouse didn’t file taxes in the previous year, they would need to provide an exemption letter explaining their income was below the minimum income required to file.

However, the IRS only allows couples to file a joint tax return if their relationship is recognized as a legal marriage in their state. Unmarried couples are not eligible to file joint returns. That is something you should be aware of since most recent tax returns of the U.S. citizen fiancé are required documents by the State Department for a K-1 fiancé visa application.

Do Permanent Residents Pay Taxes?

It’s clear that U.S. citizens must pay taxes, regardless of whether they live in or outside the states. In some cases, they can qualify for certain tax exclusions or tax credits.

Although lawful permanent residents can legally work and live in the U.S., they are not U.S. citizens. However, as soon as you become a green card holder, you also automatically become a U.S. tax resident, starting when your immigrant visa was approved for adjustment of status (I-485 Form) or the year you entered the United States.


Tadeo & Silva Immigration Attorneys Can Help With Green Card Holders’ Taxes

If you don’t understand how your tax filings can affect your immigration status, consult an immigration attorney in Atlanta before filing a tax return.

Sometimes, an immigration executive order can require some undocumented immigrants to pay their share of taxes as they register to temporarily stay in the U.S. and pass a criminal background check, like under the Trump administration.

Whenever renewing or applying for a green card or applying to become a U.S. citizen, keep in mind that timely state or federal tax filing could play a role in future immigration issues. Tadeo & Silva Immigration Attorneys can help you along the way and give their best to find the most appropriate solution for your situation. Contact us today and request a consultation. We look forward to working with you!

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