The US Citizenship and Immigration Services verify the tax information of applicants and sponsoring spouses for green card applications.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not share tax information with individuals and government entities, with a few exceptions.
Let’s discuss what tax information applicants need and how the USCIS verifies this.
Based on our research, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) do not share information directly.
However, the USCIS will verify tax information provided by an applicant for a new visa, renewal, cancelation, or other cases. It does not need to contact the IRS to verify the tax details provided by an applicant.
In many cases, the applicant does not have any link with the IRS. in other cases, the sponsor or spouse of the applicant has a taxpayer ID with the IRS and provides tax details along with the immigration forms.
Similarly, the USCIS is not bound to share immigrant status with the IRS. However, the IRS may request vital information about a person or company regarding the lawful resident status from the USCIS.
What Does the IRC 6103 Disclosure Law Say About it?
The disclosure law and IRC 6103 prohibit the IRS from sharing information about a taxpayer publicly or with anyone else concerning the taxpayer’s privacy.
It means the Internal Revenue Service has no legal jurisdiction to share a taxpayer’s information with another government entity unless required by law.
It means the IRS will not share tax information with the USCIS about workers with no legal immigration status or expired residence statuses.
IRC 6103 is also applicable to the USCIS, and therefore, the entity will not share any private information about an applicant/sponsor with any other government agency, with a few exceptions.
Immigrants and workers without legal residence status can still file their tax returns with the IRS.
For instance, the USCIS states that in compliance with the Privacy Act of 1974:
“The Privacy Act provides that federal agencies must protect against the unauthorized disclosure of personally identifiable information (PII) that it collects, disseminates, uses, or maintains.”
USCIS guides its employees to comply with the Privacy Act and the Fair Information Practice Principals (FIPPs).
It means the employees are not allowed to share information about immigrants, applicants, and other cases with anyone without a legal justification.
The exceptions to these guidelines are only for Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) and Congress.
In any case, the requesting entity must provide a legal justification and send the request in writing to obtain information about a particular immigration case.
When Do You Need to Provide Tax Documents to the USCIS?
Immigration applicants may not need to provide their tax documents to the USCIS. However, a typical case involves a sponsoring spouse, person, or company.
The sponsoring entity or a person must provide tax documents along with form I-864, also called the Affidavit of Support. The most common scenario is for a sponsoring spouse through the green card scheme.
The sponsoring spouse must provide last year’s tax returns and other financial documents showing the financial ability to support the applicant spouse.
A sponsoring spouse may add another person as a cosigner or joint sponsor. In this case, both sponsoring persons must attach their tax returns.
Sponsoring persons can attach their tax returns for up to three years.
Which Type of Tax Documents Should You Share with the USCIS?
The USCIS will require a transcript of your most recent tax returns filed with the IRS. You can also submit a copy of filed taxes for the latest tax year.
If you submit a copy of filed taxes, you must also provide a copy of form W-2 and form 1099 relevant to your income.
USCIS will consider the total income reported on your filed taxes for your green card or any other visa-related application. Therefore, filing proper taxes by including all sources of income is necessary for sponsoring spouses.
These tax documents are usually submitted with form I-864. Standard tax documents as proof of income include W-2, 1099, 1040, 1040-A, and 1040- EZ.
What Happens to Immigrants with No Social Security Numbers?
The IRS allocates a social security number to each taxpayer. It is a unique tax identifier that is used to identify the taxpayer.
Some immigrant workers, alien residents, or non-alien residents may not be able to get the social security number (SSN) due to a lack of legal paperwork.
The IRS provides Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITIN) to these individuals without a social security number. Individuals with a foreign status also apply for an ITIN rather than an SSN.
Applicants must use Form W-7 to apply for an ITIN with the IRS. The process may take 6 to 10 weeks, and the IRS will verify your eligibility to apply for an ITIN rather than an SSN.
What is the US Tax Residency or Green Card Test?
The green card test is also called the US Tax Residency Test. The IRS evaluates a taxpayer as a tax resident if you are a lawful resident of the US during a tax year.
It simply means if the USCIS grants you a legal resident’s status in the US, you’ll be considered a lawful tax resident. You must then file your income tax returns in the US and your foreign income sources.
The income tax treatment may differ for each taxpayer, and you may get exemptions on your income tax returns with a double treaty or tax waivers.
Tax Compliance Requirements for Undocumented Workers in the US
The IRS officially uses the word “Alien” for undocumented workers in the US. Undocumented workers must also report income to the IRS and file income tax returns like other residents or citizens.
Undocumented workers cannot obtain a social security number and must apply for an ITIN, as mentioned above. Then, they must report their earned income in the US and file income tax returns.
Suppose an undocumented worker (alien) must stay in the US for at least 31 days in a tax year and 183 days for the last two years to qualify for the resident alien status. Others will fall under the non-resident alien status.
How Does the USCIS Verify Your Tax Information?
The US Citizenship and Immigration Service does not need to contact the IRS to verify your tax information directly.
When an applicant applies along with the transcript of the tax records, the USCIS reviews these documents.
The information available through your tax return records is sufficient to verify income tax information online through the IRS.
In some cases, the USCIS may request specific questions or access to the IRS. However, it must provide a legal justification to access income tax information from the IRS.
Owing IRS Might Affect Your Immigration Status
Owing the IRS can certainly affect your immigration status. If you have unpaid taxes due to the IRS, they could potentially deny your visa or green card application or even deport you in extreme cases.
Additionally, if you’re already a permanent resident and you owe the IRS money, they may also not renew your green card, leading to possible deportation.
You must pay any back taxes you may owe to avoid trouble obtaining or maintaining valid immigration status.
Does USCIS ask for tax returns for a Green Card?
Yes, when applying for a green card, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will likely require tax returns as part of the application process.
Depending on your situation, USCIS may request copies of your most recent federal and/or local income tax returns. Be sure to review the guidelines and instructions carefully before submitting your application.
5 Risks to Your USCIS Application if You Are Not Fulfill Your Tax Obligation
- Delays in receiving USCIS approval: When you fail to pay taxes, your application can be delayed until you have taken care of your unpaid taxes.
- Denial of the application: If USCIS discovers that you have not fulfilled your income tax obligations, they may reject your application.
- Liability for back taxes and penalties: Unpaid taxes come with hefty fines, fees, and penalties – all of which will need to be paid before the government even considers your immigration request.
- Collection proceedings: If the government decides to pursue collection action against you, it could mean a long process involving lawyers and court hearings – all of which will significantly delay the processing time of your application.
- Ineligibility to return to the U.S.: If USCIS denies your immigration request due to unpaid taxes, they may bar you from re-entering the United States until all obligations are satisfied.