When a couple applies for a Marriage Green Card through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office, they are required to provide “bona fides” proving their marriage is legitimate. This practice is in place to catch anyone who may be faking a relationship in order to become a citizen of the United States.
These so-called “bona fides” are simply things that display the history of your relationship: a lease that proves that you live together, a joint bank account that you share, any insurance policies covering both of you. One of the most important bona fides – and one that is often overlooked – is your taxes.
That’s right: although they may seem unrelated, your taxes are essential to the outcome of your immigration case. When USCIS looks at your marriage case, they want to see that you and your spouse are paying your taxes every single year and filing together. There are two separate statutes to file your taxes together: Married Filing Jointly and Married Filing Separately. While we are certainly not giving tax advice, we can say that those two statuses are what USCIS is looking for on your tax returns.
The problem is that some people file taxes as Head of Household when they do not actually qualify for this tax status. According to the IRS, the Head of Household status is for “unmarried or considered unmarried” individuals who have a dependent living with them for more than half of the year. In this case, “considered unmarried” refers to someone who is legally married but has not lived with their spouse for more than six months. There is no secret why some tax preparers may encourage people to file House of Household – it can lead to a larger return than many other filing statuses.
With that being said, you can see the problem in place: when you file your taxes as Head of Household, you are telling the IRS that you do not live with your spouse. This is in direct contradiction with telling USCIS that you are married and living with your spouse! If USCIS sees this, it is a gigantic red flag that you are lying to them.
Some people do not even realize what they are doing when they file as Head of Household. If this has happened to you, there is only one solution that we have: to refile your taxes the right way. Filing an amended tax return could be an expensive and slow process, but it is essential before your marriage is evaluated by USCIS. This must be done for every year you filed incorrectly while you were living together.
When it comes to taxes, it is important to save yourself time and money by getting it right the first time. If you want to back up your marriage status as legitimate, you need to be filing your taxes as a married couple. For help with your immigration case, contact Heitz Immigration Law today. We want to open the door to opportunity for you!