Acquiring a green card makes you a legal permanent U.S. resident. When you are approved for a green card, you automatically assume all tax responsibilities of a U.S. tax resident.
The federal government requires all tax-eligible U.S. citizens to declare their income sources to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) every year. You have to claim your source of income, regardless of when it was earned.
Since 2012, U.S. tax residents have also been required to report certain information regarding the financial assets they own in foreign jurisdictions.
Reporting on Income
Green card holders are permanent U.S. residents. Therefore, they are required to declare the income they receive, both from their jobs within the United States as well as any financial gains earned from investments or business activities undertaken in other countries.
On the same note, if you are a green card holder but live in another country, you have to declare the income you earn from the job in that country.
Green Card Holders Living Abroad
Having a green card makes you a permanent U.S. resident. However, if you live in another country, the immigration authorities may consider you to have abandoned or given up your residency. To prevent this from happening, you need to take various steps, such as filing for a re-entry permit, to ensure your green card remains valid. A Las Vegas green card attorney can help you with the process.
Declaring all your income sources does not mean that the federal government will automatically tax all of it. The U.S. has various treaties with different countries that regulate whether or not U.S. citizens have to pay taxes for earned income in those countries.
For example, if you pay income tax in another country, there are high chances that you’ll get a tax credit against your U.S. taxes. Despite this, green card holders are still required to report all their worldwide earned income.
Does the number of days you spend in the U.S. every year determine whether or not you are required to pay taxes?
Yes, but only if you have a nonimmigrant (temporary) visa. However, if you are a green card holder, you must report all your earned worldwide income, even if you spend considerable time outside the country.
The law requires U.S. tax residents to return Form 1040 every year by April 15th. You can find the form as well as the instructions for filling it on the IRS website.
Reporting on Assets
The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA) requires U.S. income tax residents to provide information about their foreign financial assets every year if they exceed $50,000. The reporting should be done by filing IRS Form 8938 together with Form 1040. If you live outside the U.S. or are filing a joint tax return, the threshold is higher.
The reporting obligation is required for assets held in the taxable years since March 18, 2010. The aim of FACTA is to prevent tax evasion by U.S. residents who shelter their assets and investments in offshore accounts.
Keep in mind that the FACTA obligation is different from the requirement of the U.S. Treasury Department regarding the disclosure of foreign bank accounts. The Treasury requires U.S. residents to report the foreign bank accounts that they hold by June 30 every year as described here on the IRS website.
How to Pay Income Tax
Permanent U.S. residents can pay their federal income taxes through estimated taxes, withholding, or sometimes both.
Through the “withholding” method, your employer or business that is paying you subtracts the necessary federal taxes from your pay every period. The pay is then forwarded to the IRS on your behalf and you are given the balance of the payment.
There is no exact amount that the law requires to be withheld from your income. The amount that will be withheld may be more or less than the actual tax you may be required to pay.
If you are a self-employed green card holder or get other income that is not subjected to withholding (for example, rental income or investments), you have to send the estimated tax payments to the IRS every three months or so.
At the end of the year, you’ll have to tally up all your estimated tax payments and withholdings that you have made. The withholdings will appear on the W-2 form, which your employer will give you at the end of the year. If your withholdings were more than you are required to pay in taxes, the IRS would refund you. On the other hand, if the tally shows that you underpaid your taxes, you’ll have to pay any balances due.
U.S. tax residents are required to file their taxes every year by April 15. However, the date can be bumped a day or two if it falls on a holiday or weekend.
Consequences of Non-Compliance with U.S. Tax Laws
Failing to comply with U.S. tax laws can lead to prosecution. Green cardholders who are found guilty of a tax crime can be fined or imprisoned, depending on the extent of the crime. Apart from this, their green card can be revoked, and they may be deported from the United States.
Under FACTA, U.S. residents that fail to report their foreign assets worth over $50,000 can be fined up to $10,000. Continuous failure to comply with the reporting requirements of the Act after being notified by the IRS can lead to fines of up to $50,000. The IRS also has the power to impose a 40% penalty on any non-disclosed or understated assets.
Green card holders that fail to file U.S. taxes, or that claim nonresident tax treatment between their home country and the U.S., may also be considered to be intending to abandon their permanent resident status. As a result, their green cards may be revoked.
Even if you are not found to have abandoned your U.S. resident status or are not prosecuted for a crime, failing to pay taxes can block you from becoming a U.S. citizen. When applying for citizenship, you have to indicate on Form N-400 whether you have filed your taxes. If you have not been paying taxes, you may have to pay back the due amounts and associated penalties before your U.S. citizen application can be reviewed.
It is critical to seek advice from a tax attorney, an accountant, or the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to find out how U.S. tax laws affect you. Moreover, if you have not been filing your taxes and are planning on applying for U.S. citizenship, you are likely to experience some trouble with the immigration department. In this case, you’ll need to hire an experienced U.S. immigration attorney to help you.
In 2018, the U.S. economy is booming. There has probably never been a better time to make an investment in the United States.
The standard requirement for international investors to obtain a green card based on investment is still $1 million through the EB-5 Investor Visa Program.
But many international investors want to know: Is there a less costly alternative to that $1 million standard minimum investment?
The answer is yes, and you are going to learn about it below. But first, here is a brief, a general introduction to the EB-5 Investor Visa Program.
EXACTLY WHAT IS THE EB-5 INVESTOR VISA PROGRAM?
The EB-5 Investor Visa Program was established by Congress in 1990. The program’s goal is to increase international investments in businesses and business ventures based here in the U.S.
Provided that you have complied with all of the other immigration requirements, and provided that your investment creates jobs for U.S. workers, a $1 million investment provides you and your immediate family members with green cards and creates a path to U.S. citizenship.
If you are an international investor and you are seeking a great investment opportunity in the U.S., but you do not have $1 million to invest, you may obtain a green card with a minimum $500,000 investment in a Targeted Employment Area or “TEA,” a high-unemployment region.
HOW IS A TARGETED EMPLOYMENT AREA DEFINED?
Targeted Employment Areas are identified by each of the fifty state governments. These are regions where the unemployment rate is 150 percent or more of the national unemployment rate.
Participation in the EB-5 Investor Visa Program starts by choosing the right investment project and by submitting an I-526 form to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
You should have an experienced immigration attorney help you identify the right investment opportunity and help to you complete your Form I-526. Any mistakes or incomplete information on the I-526 will very likely hold up the processing of your visa request.
As you begin the process of acquiring an EB-5 investor visa, you’ll need to focus on your investment project. Obtaining a TEA designation for a particular EB-5 project can be imperative.
If you are requesting a TEA designation for your investment project, your TEA designation request – and a “TEA letter” from authorities in the state where the project is located – should be included as part of your I-526 petition.
WHAT IS AN EB-5 REGIONAL CENTER?
Most EB-5 Investor Visa Program participants work through what is called an EB-5 “Regional Center.” The Regional Centers are designated by USCIS, but they are private-sector groups that pool investment monies for resorts, hotels, office and retail developments, and similar projects.
In 2018, a number of the large, ongoing development projects in the U.S. are depending on EB-5 funding.
Regional centers allow you as an international investor to make a cash investment without having to create or manage a new business or a new project on your own.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOUR I-526 PETITION IS APPROVED?
When your I-526 petition is approved, if you are residing outside of the U.S. at that time, you must submit a visa request to the U.S. Department of State. Consular affairs officers at U.S. embassies and consulate determine if applicants are admissible to the U.S.
If you are currently in the United States and you are carrying another visa, then you must request an adjustment of status from USCIS. USCIS will then conduct a background check, and an in-person interview may also be required.
If everything you are reading here sounds confusing and complicated – selecting an investment opportunity, submitting an I-526 form, and obtaining a TEA designation – that’s because it is in fact confusing and complicated. Where should you turn for help?
HOW CAN AN IMMMIGRATION LAWYER HELP YOU?
International investors who are seeking to invest in a U.S.-based business or business venture must have the services and advice of a qualified U.S. immigration lawyer who regularly and routinely guides prospective investors through the EB-5 visa application and investment process.
The EB-5 Investor Visa Program gives international investors a chance at the American Dream. The investments made through the EB-5 program benefit all of us.
Through the EB-5 program, developers and business owners are able to acquire the funds they need for new projects. And across the United States, EB-5 investments have brought prosperity back to scores of depressed communities and declining businesses.
WHAT ELSE WILL AN EB-5 INVESTOR NEED?
For the international investor, obtaining an EB-5 investor visa and deciding where to place an investment will require some serious research and consideration, but most of the international investors in the EB-5 program find that their patience and hard work are amply rewarded.
Patience is what international investors will need a great deal of when they apply for EB-5 visas. Investors must start the visa application process as early as possible, because the wait for an available EB-5 visa may take a year or more.
Only 10,000 EB-5 visas are issued annually. EB-5 visas are for international investors with a vision. Those investors must have sound legal advice that they can trust.
WILL THE EB-5 MINIMUM INVESTMENT AMOUNT INCREASE THIS YEAR?
The $500,000 minimum investment figure has not changed since Congress first established the EB-5 Investor Visa Program back in 1990.
International investors need to know that although the current EB-5 program has been extended through at least September 30, 2018, a number of changes have been proposed to the EB-5 program, so it is possible that the minimum investment amount may be raised at that time.
If you have been thinking about an investment in the United States, the time to speak with a skilled immigration lawyer is now. The EB-5 Investor Visa Program is one of the best paths to lawful permanent residency and eventual citizenship in the United States.
WHAT OTHER BENEFITS DO EB-5 INVESTORS ENJOY?
The average return on a typical EB-5 investment is about eight percent. Of course, the value of obtaining a green card – and a U.S. university education for your children – can’t be measured in dollars.
You can learn more about the EB-5 Investor Visa Program or you can start the application process right now by arranging to speak with an immigration attorney – by telephone or online – from any nation in the world.
If you want to make an investment in the United States, you must have an immigration attorney’s help. The time to start is now.
In the United States, a green card is a document that states the holder is a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Lawful permanent resident status is the highest immigration status that a foreign citizen can earn in the United States before becoming a naturalized citizen. People from foreign countries may try for years to get a green card because of how valuable the document is and the rights and privileges that it can afford, but only U.S. citizens are free from the risk of deportation.
Green card holders may be lawful permanent residents of the United States, and they may live their entire lives in the United States, but only natural born and naturalized citizens of the United States are free from the risk of deportation. This means that green card holders may technically be deported if they are found to have violated immigration policy or a serious criminal offense, which is why anyone applying for or currently holding a green card is advised to be on his or her best behavior to avoid any risk of a deportation.
Can a Family Member be Sponsored?
Current rules in America’s immigration system allow individuals from foreign countries to qualify for a green card by family relationship. If the person is related by blood or marriage to a qualified member of the family, and that member of the family is him or herself a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen, then the permanent resident or citizen may be allowed to sponsor the foreign family member for a green card.
U.S. citizens have considerably more flexibility on who they can sponsor, as they may sponsor spouses, children, and siblings. Lawful permanent residents on the other hand, who are holders of green cards themselves, may only sponsor spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21. If a lawful permanent resident wants to sponsor a sibling or adult child, then the resident will have to first become a naturalized U.S. citizen before being able to sponsor the foreign family member.
Getting the Green Card
In order to begin the process of sponsoring a foreign family member, citizens and current permanent residents have to file a Form I-130 with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service. The form is a Petition for Alien Relative. If the foreign family member is already lawfully located in the United States, perhaps under a work or student visa, then the sponsoring person will have to file a Form I-485.
Assuming that a foreign family member is outside of the United States at the time the sponsoring citizen or resident wants to sponsor the person, then the foreign family member may be required to complete his or her portion of the petitioning process through a U.S. embassy or consulate in the person’s country of origin / current residence.
For best results, sponsors and sponsored family members are encouraged to partner with an experienced immigration attorney for help through the green card application process. The attorney will ensure that all of the person’s paperwork has been filled out properly and that the application and any supporting documents are submitted in accordance with immigration rules.
We wanted to make sure you were aware of an interesting piece of legislation that was recently introduced by two members of the U.S. Senate.
In May, Senators Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee and Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, introduced Senate Bill 3192, which carries the title: “Sustaining our Most Advanced Researchers and Technology (SMART) Jobs Act of 2012.
According to the authors, SB 3192 is designed to create a path for non-citizens who earn a masters or doctoral degree in a STEM field from an American university to remain in the country for up to a year while they search for employment related to their field of expertise. Once they have received employment, they would be eligible for a green card. Additionally, these STEM-specific green cards would not count towards any caps or limits already in place.
SMART would make use of a new Family Fourth Preference (F-4) visa category. F-4 is currently a 65,000 cap non-immigrant category used for “brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children.”
In the bill’s release, Coons pointed to his belief the U.S. has not been doing an adequate job retaining the most talented young minds it educates. “Instead of sending them home after graduation, we should be encouraging them to stay in the U.S. to pursue their innovations and create jobs here,” he said.
“It makes no sense to attract the most talented scientists and engineers from other countries to our schools to educate them, only to send them home to compete with American companies and create jobs in other countries,” said Alexander.
The authors pointed to some interesting statistics related to the bill, namely that immigrant-founded startup companies created 450,000 jobs in the last decade and have generated more than $50 billion in sales in a single year. Also, more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. In Silicon Valley more than half of new high-tech startups are founded by immigrants.
The word “notario”, in terms of immigration law, is a slang term that is used to describe people who are not actual lawyers but who hold themselves out to unsuspecting immigrants as lawyers and/or being able to provide the services of a lawyer. These notarios will charge immigrants copious amounts of cash in exchange for no work at all or illegally provided substandard work. The danger of working with a notario is that they can leave immigrants in the very dangerous position of being eligible for removal from the United States – in other words, they can leave immigrants in a deportable state and many may not even realize it until they are detained by migration officials.
Some notarios have been so bold as to print counterfeit green cards to unsuspecting immigrants in exchange for cash, which makes it even more likely that the immigrant won’t question the notario’s credentials.
The Rules in the United States
The laws of the United States and of each individual state make it impossible for anyone who is not a licensed attorney to practice law. Contrary to popular belief, a law degree alone is not enough to practice law, the person wishing to practice law must first receive a law degree from an approved school before seeking to be licensed by a U.S. jurisdiction. Anyone offering legal advice, or offering to help an immigrant with the immigration process, without having a license to practice law, is most likely in violation of the law and should be reported to authorities.
If A Person Has Hired a Notario in the Past
If a person’s immigration application was completed with the help of a notario in the past, or if the person has suspicions that someone they may have visited for migration assistance or advice was in fact a notario, then they should contact an experienced migration attorney as soon as possible. A legitimate immigration attorney will be able to tell the person whether or not the services provided by the suspected notario were valid and whether or not the person should have any concerns over their status.
Getting an Attorney to Help
In addition to reviewing a case to determine whether or not a person has been made the victim of a notario, an experienced immigration attorney can help individuals who need immigration advice by answering their legal questions relating to the immigration system, helping them with the paperwork that will need to be submitted in order to proceed with the immigration process, and representing their interests at any immigration hearings. Partnering with a legitimate attorney, with verifiable credentials, is the best way to ensure that an immigration application is submitted properly and that the person whom the application is for has the highest possible chance of success.
Even if the person was duped into paying for illegitimate legal advice and services, a legitimate attorney may still be able to help the person gain an immigration status that would allow them to legally remain in the United States.
When most foreign citizens speak of gaining the right to live and work in the U.S., they say that they are trying to get their “green cards.” The card itself isn’t green, but the nickname, which derived from a green receipt that was issued to immigrants who registered their immigration status, has become synonymous with making it in the United States.
A Stepping Stone to Citizenship
Once a foreign citizen has lived in the United States on a valid green card for a period of at least five years, the green card holder is eligible to request full citizenship status. Green cards are generally issued for purposes of employment, by family relation, to seekers of asylum, to certain individuals who have been in the U.S. legally or illegally since the 1st of January, 1972, to winners of the green card lottery, and by the power of the U.S. Congress to adjust the laws on who may qualify for a green card.
Keeping and Maintaining a Green Card
The government does not generally open its borders to those who intend to violate its rules. This is why green cards are issued with several reasons for a person’s green card to be revoked. For example, employment based green cards can be revoked if a holder fails to maintain lawful employment. Family based green cards can be revoked if the government determines that they were won by fraud. Generally, all types of green cards can be revoked if the holder is found to have broken a serious law.
When holders of green cards enter or exit the country at an official port of entry, they are tracked by a date of departure and date of return. If the period of time between these two dates exceeds one year, the holder of a green card will have to apply for a special permit to reenter the country that shows the government that the immigrant did not abandon his or her permanent residence status. The reentry permit is valid for two years.
When it comes to applying for a green card, there are several rules and exceptions to rules that could have a major impact on a foreign citizen’s ability to receive a green card. This is why foreign citizens who are considering applying for a green card should work with an experienced green card attorney who can offer sound legal advice throughout the green card application process.
In most cases, an immigration and green card attorney can advise foreign citizens on the requirements to qualify for a green card and can review all of the facts relevant to a person’s case to determine which type of green card should be applied for. When that is decided, the attorney can walk the applicant through the green card process, from beginning to end. If they were to try to do all of the legwork and research on their own, foreign citizens may very well find the green card application process confusing and frustrating, which would only risk the application being denied for errors.
Foreign citizens who are currently in the United States unlawfully might feel like they have no hope of gaining lawful resident status – but if they meet certain conditions, even those who are here illegally can qualify for a green card and lawful permanent resident status through a section of U.S. immigration law known as registry. The law allows anyone who entered the U.S. before January 1st, 1972, and who has resided in the U.S. continuously since that year, who is of good moral character, who is eligible for naturalization and who is not currently deportable to be granted a green card and all of the rights and benefits that go along with it.
Filing for a Green Card through Registry
To begin the process of getting a green card and lawful permanent resident status, immigrants who meet the qualifications of the registry program described above have to fill out United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Form I-485, which is officially known as an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
In addition to the application form, the USCIS will require two passport sized photos, a copy of a government issued photo ID, a copy of a birth certificate, a copy of the nonimmigrant visa (if applicable), a copy of the passport admission / entry stamp (if applicable), evidence that the immigrant entered the U.S. before January 1st, 1972, evidence that the immigrant maintained continuous residence since that date, USCIS Form I-94 Arrival / Departure Record (if applicable), and a USCIS Form G-325A Biographic Information form if the immigrant is between the ages of 14 and 79. These documents should be attached to the application form and reviewed by an attorney prior to being submitted to USCIS.
If applying for a green card under the registry program, immigrants are not required to undergo a medical examination.
Working Legally Until a Green Card is Approved
Even though they may qualify for a green card under the rules of the registry program, immigrants are not automatically allowed to begin legally working in the United States until the green card is approved or until a work authorization is granted. The work authorization allows immigrants with certain types of immigration applications pending to work legally in the United States while the application is being reviewed and decided.
For best results, immigrants who would like to apply for a green card under the registry program should work with an experienced immigration attorney. The attorney will help the immigrant by explaining the legal process and completing the necessary application forms on the immigrant’s behalf. While it may not seem like a big deal, a single mistake in filling out an application may result in an application denial that is not actually warranted. An attorney will know exactly how to fill out and prepare all of the necessary paperwork for the application process, and can even help immigrants whose applications for a registry green card have been denied in the past. The attorney can review the facts of an initial denial to determine whether or not pursuing an appeal would be a good idea.