“I have been in the U.S., out of status, since 2008. I am engaged to marry a U.S. citizen, and I’m looking forward to getting a ‘proper’ job and getting myself into the system. I work as a babysitter now and have done so for several years. Unfortunately I haven’t been in a position to pay taxes, but I would like to rectify this. Will issuance of my green card be tied in any way to this? Also, I believe I can get a work authorization card while awaiting my green card. Is there any chance that I could be denied this given that I’ve been living and working here for so long?”
The employment authorization document you refer to, Form I-765, can be filed at the same time as you submit the paperwork to adjust your status to that of a permanent resident, after you have married.
There’s always a chance that you could be denied an employment authorization card, but if your biometrics (fingerprints) are clean and you have no criminal record, it’s very likely that you will be approved.
You should expect to be notified of a decision on the I-765 within 90 days of receipt by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). If you have not, you can call the USCIS customer line at 1-800-375-5283 to request interim authorization. All of the relevant instructions for the I-765 can be found at www.uscis.gov.
Any prior period of living and working in the U.S. without authorization is not grounds to disqualify applicants for employment authorization. Nor is your tax history. The I-765 is one page long and asks fairly routine questions – prior tax compliance is not among them.
Having said that, you say that you want to regularize your tax situation and that is a good thing for several reasons. Obviously it’s the law of the land, and when the time comes to naturalize you could be asked to present evidence that you’ve complied with state and federal tax law.
The I-485 adjustment of status paperwork that you’ll need to file for your green card is more detailed than the I-765, but it doesn’t specifically ask about taxes. However, when you’re ready to become a U.S. citizen down the line (you’ll be eligible three years after your green card is issued), you’ll be asked specifically about your history filing taxes, and if you owe any overdue taxes.
A qualified accountant will help put you on the right tax path, so make it your business to reach out.
There are undocumented residents who question why they should have to pay taxes if they are out of status – music to the ears of politicians who are anti-immigration reform.
Taxes are a fact of life in the U.S., undocumented or not. There are many services that are available to all regardless of status, and ALL of us are obligated to pay for them.