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Green Card Test

What is the Green Card Test

  • As per tax laws, you would be considered a resident for tax purposes if you are a lawful permanent resident of the United States at any time during calendar year. This is
    known as the “green card” test.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) gives you the privilege, in accordance with US immigration laws, to reside permanently as an immigrant, also known as Lawful Permanent Residence. This is the first step for an immigrant towards a path of becoming the US Citizen. The card issued to you for Lawful Permanent Residence is known as a “Green Card”.
  • You continue to have resident status under this test unless the status is taken away from you or is administratively or judicially determined to have been abandoned.

Can your Resident tax status be taken away, even if you are on a Green Card?

  • US Immigration law is a complicated law in itself, and has various dimensions to it. As a lawful permanent resident, immigrants can be under removal or deportation proceedings, if they are involved in certain crimes, or are considered a danger to this country.
  • Resident status is considered to have been taken away from you if the U.S. government issues you a final administrative or judicial order of exclusion or deportation. A final judicial order is an order that you may no longer appeal to a higher court of competent jurisdiction.

When is your Resident status considered abandoned?

An administrative or judicial determination of abandonment of resident status may be initiated by you, the USCIS, or a U.S. consular officer.

However, there could be times when you yourself initiate the determination, by filing any of the following with USCIS or a U.S. consular officer:

  • Your application for abandoning your lawful permanent residency
  • Your Alien Registration Receipt Card attached to a letter stating your intent to abandon your resident status

The letter must have been sent via certified mail, return receipt requested, and you must maintain a copy of the same for your records.

If the USCIS or U.S. consular officer initiates this determination, your resident status will be considered to be abandoned when the final administrative order of abandonment is issued. If
you are granted an appeal to a federal court of competent jurisdiction, a final judicial order is required.

You can loose your Lawful Permanent Residence, if you fail to file your taxes as a Resident under tax law

This can come as quite a shock to lot of immigrants who hold lawful permanent residence or “Green Card”, and have only stayed say a couple of days in the US during a course of the year. It would be logical to think that if you don’t pass the substantial presence test, you would not be required to file as a Resident, and hence only pay taxes as a Non-Resident, Right? Wrong. You would be required to file as a Resident and as a Non-Resident even if you stayed for a couple of days only in the United States.

Also, under the immigration laws, a lawful permanent resident who is required to file a tax return as a Resident and fails to do so may be regarded as having abandoned status and may lose permanent resident status.

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