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Like it or not, its tax time! For some of us that means taking the time to prepare our W-2s, 1099s, collect our receipts, donation slips, etc. Whatever it is that you have to do to get prepared, you'll have to do so and file your Federal and State tax return, for income earned in 2017, by the deadline - which for this year is April 17! Tax day is usually April 15, but because April 15 falls on a Sunday this year, and April 16 is Emancipation Day (a legal holiday in Washington, D.C.), you'll have until Tuesday, April 17 to file. Hopefully some of you out there don’t take this as an extra couple of days to procrastinate. Remember: Time flies! (Note: For those of you who want to file later than April 17, file for a 6-month extension).S

Okay, now that you know when tax filings are due. What does this have to do with Immigration?

The Importance of Your Tax Filing When Renewing Your Green Card

If you have a conditional green card (those that expire after 2 years) through marriage, then listen up – this article is important for you and your spouse to know. Prior to the 2 year anniversary of when you received your green card from Immigration/USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services), you must petition USCIS to remove conditions on residency here in the US. Part of this process includes  you and your spouse submitting evidence to immigration that shows you and your spouse have a “bona fide marriage”. In other words, Immigration would like to see evidence that you and your spouse truly are married for the right reason – love – rather than because you are solely seeking an immigration benefit – which is fraud. 

NOTE: Marriage Fraud is a serious federal crime. The US citizen spouse can be fined up to $250,000 and/or be sentenced up to 5 years in prison, and the lawful permanent resident/green card spouse can sentenced to jail time and then removed from the U.S. back to the country of origin; for many of us, that is Thailand. Be sure you do not engage in such fraudulent acts! Immigration and Nationality Act § 275(c); 8 U.S. Code § 1325(c)

Tax Filing Status as Evidence of a Bona Fide Marriage

If you received your green card through marriage, be aware that the filing status you choose on your taxes can potentially be an important piece of supportive evidence. Many people forget this when it comes to tax time because they are used to filing as a single person.  Other than having children or purchasing a home together with your spouse, it is my opinion that your tax filing status carries a lot of weight for documentarily showing that you have a bona fide marriage.

On the tax form, Form 1040, you have the following options for “filing status”:

1) Single

2) Married Filing Jointly

3) Married Filing Separately

4) Head of Household

5) Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child

W-2 as Evidence of a Bona Fide Marriage

Another point I would like to remind those of you facing an upcoming renewal of green card situation, is that after you get married and decide to move in with your spouse, be sure to notify your employer so that he/she can update your address when they issue you your W-2 Wage and Tax Statement. Make sure that the address on your W-2 coincides with the physical address you and your spouse will use when filing your tax form.

The renewal of your conditional green card is important. I have seen many people who fail to realize just how important this process is. Their thinking is: once they have their initial green card, everything will be a piece of cake after that. No, it isn’t that easy. I do not want to see anyone suffering from the harsh consequences of removal, so that is why I am writing these articles. In future articles, I will presenting other tips regarding removing conditions on residency (renewing your green card).  Now that you know how important filing taxes with your spouse can be, be sure to consider my pointers when it is time to file.

As always, if you have any questions still left unanswered or you have general questions regarding other legal issues, or even if you have comments, please email me at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or contact my office at (818) 846-5639, or my Thai direct line at (818) 505-4921. We can also be found on the world wide web with our new, improved website in THAI and ENGLISH at: WWW.JC4LAW.COM.

Disclaimer: The information contained herein have been prepared for informational purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice unless otherwise specified. If you have a specific question regarding your personal case, please contact the Law Offices of Joseph Chitmongran for a full consultation. Joseph Chitmongran is not a tax professional so please consult a tax professional regarding your personal tax filing situation.