Marriage green cards are a very common type of immigration application. The key in understanding this process is knowing that both the U.S. citizen (or green card holder) spouse, and the beneficiary (immigrant) need to have their documentation ready in order for a successful processing and also to avoid receiving an RFE from the USCIS. This application simply wont work if one party is missing some documents and actually many of the key documents need to be provided by the sponsor—the spouse who will be financially supporting their immigrant spouse while they seek an employment option.
As such, this blog will be dedicated to better understanding what to do if the sponsor is lacking some critical documents that are needed in order for the green card application to proceed. Specifically, tax information comes up frequently in such cases. While it may be easy to attach your marriage certificate to an application, as well as photo evidence of the bona fide relationship, other documents might be harder to obtain. So this will be a good starting point in understanding how to contact the IRS and know the status of your tax information.
Your W2 Form for Taxes
The financial sponsor, the spouse who will be filling out the I-864, will be asked several times of their annual income, as well as their current job status and title. This is important information, but it is technically not verifiable proof that the individual has an income. In order to notify the USCIS that one's income is real, the sponsor needs to attach one of the following documents to their Affidavit of Support:
- A letter to the USCIS if you did not file income taxes in the previous year describing why this was the case
- IRS tax return transcript
- IRS Form W2
Note: Applicants should also not submit IRS Forms 1040 or 1040EZ, as these documents do not serve as proof of income.
How to Request IRS Form W2
It is fairly common no matter if one has a spouse immigrating to the U.S. or one is not involved with immigration at all, to misplace one's W2. You might have a paper copy somewhere around your house, but you’ve lost it because after you received your federal tax return, you stopped worrying about it. Or you have forgotten that its saved in an online portal provided by your employer. Either way, if you have lost your W2, or need a copy for the purpose of immigration documentation (as in the case of filing an I-864), you should exhaust the following options:
1. Contact the HR team at your company. Ask them kindly if they can send you your W2 again or where to access it.
2. If your employer sent you your W2 by mail, make sure they had the right address on file. If you moved from the time you were hired by a firm, to a new address, it is possible your W2 was sent to your old address. You’ll need to ask for a new copy sent to your current U.S. address
3. If you’ve been working for the last fiscal year and your employer has failed to provide your W2, contact the IRS at 800-829-1040. You’ll also need the following information for your call:
- Name, address, Social Security Number, phone
- Employer’s name, address, and phone
- Dates you’ve worked for the employer
- An estimate of the number of wages you were paid and federal income tax withheld in 2020. If possible, you can use your final pay stub to figure these amounts
The IRS is giving workers an extra month this fiscal year to file their 2020 tax returns, due to Covid-19. The new date for final submission of filing is May 17th, 2021 (it was previously April 15th).
Additionally, for those who never received a W2, another option that is available on the IRS website is the Form 4852. This form serves as a substitute for the W2, and is completed by taxpayers or their representatives. The PDF version of the form is available here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4852.pdf
Filing with the IRS may be a foreign concept for immigrants and even U.S. citizens. It is well advised to seek the help of a certified accountant who can help individuals file their taxes correctly, and to avoid errors in the process of filing. Most accountants charge between $100-$400 for one return. The price of hiring an accountant varies by zip code.
Not all marriage green card applicants have sponsors with perfect federal tax return filings. In some cases, a sponsor has started a new job and hasn’t been in contact with an old employer for months. Regardless, if a sponsor has left a job and earned income with that job (usually over $1000), they are absolutely eligible for a return on their employment. Sponsors should reach out to old employers if they never sent a W2 in the mail.