petitioner has not filed taxes

Petitioner Has Not Filed Taxes! Can We Get Approved For K1 Visa?

Now that tax season is over, you’re probably feeling a sense of relief right about now. But, what if the petitioner has not filed taxes… ever??! First of all, don’t panic. Next, you should find out whether you were actually required to file taxes.

Here’s an important fact: not everyone in the United States is required to file a tax return to the IRS. ????


It’s because not everyone is required to pay taxes. Depending on your filing status, exemptions, income level and household size, the petitioner may not even be required to file a US tax return.

But, what if the petitioner is required to pay taxes but they haven’t filed in years?

This is the situation that can cause big problems for your spouse visa or fiancé visa. Unfortunately, submitting your tax returns (or tax transcripts) is required to sponsor someone on a K1 visa.

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Case Example:

Marcello is a US citizen that has filed the I-129F petition for this fiancé but he hasn’t filed tax returns for over 3 years. He is concerned that this will affect his chances of getting approved for the K1 visa.

After the initial I-129F petition is approved by USCIS, Marcello’s case is then routed to the National Visa Center (NVC) where he is required to complete the affidavit of support (I-134) and submit his tax returns.

This is the stage where petitioners really get into trouble with taxes! ????

When a petitioner has not filed taxes in the last year, two or 10… start looking for a joint sponsor asap. Even if you have income that you don’t report, if you can’t prove it you can use it.

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Can USCIS Access IRS Tax Records?

Wondering if USCIS will find out that you haven’t filed your IRS returns? The good news is that USCIS doesn’t actually have direct access to IRS records.

But, they will simply ask you to provide the tax transcripts from the IRS. If you say no, then no immigration benefit will be provided to your spouse or fiancé.

Doesn’t leave you with much of a choice, now does it? ????

Additionally, the IRS doesn’t communicate with USCIS without your permission. Legally, USCIS would need to have you sign a document giving them permission to access your tax records.

Although there is no way to hide whether you have filed your tax or not, you won’t get approved for the spouse visa or fiance visa without providing these records to USCIS.

Does USCIS Communicate With The IRS?

Another question that some petitioners worry about is whether USCIS is able to pick up the phone and call the IRS about you.

Take a deep breathe…

No, they usually don’t do this and if they did, you would be made aware of it. The IRS can’t disclose personal tax filing information without your consent.

But here’s the catch… you would likely be asked about your tax filing status by an immigration officer anyway. It’s in your best interest to be completely honest about not filing in years.

Lying to USCIS about filing your taxes isn’t going to help your case either. ????

If you truly want to bring your fiancé or spouse to be with you in the United States, it’s in your best interest to cooperate with USCIS.

If this means proving 10 years tax returns, do it! More than likely, USCIS will only want to see the last three years tax returns.

Not having filed a tax return in more than three years could cause problems unless you have a valid reason. We will go into some of those reasons in the coming paragraphs.

Related Post: What to do when your spouse doesn’t meet the income requirement.

If You Haven’t Filed Taxes The Last 2 Years

There seems to be nothing worse than not filing your taxes to the IRS. When a petitioner has not filed taxes it really says something to USCIS. Are you a law abiding US citizen? Should you be allowed to take advantage of immigration benefits?

I’ve had one client who chose not to file their 2016 and 2017 tax returns because they were self-employed and owed money they didn’t have. ????

Of course, running a business means you will ultimately need to pay taxes but this person didn’t set aside money from their revenue each month. Then when tax season rolled around, they chose not to file instead of getting on a payment plan.

One piece of advice I will give you is NEVER mess with the IRS! They will get their money one way or another. Frankly, I’d rather pay in installments than risk not being able to bring your loved one to the US. ????

So, if you haven’t filed taxes the last 2 years, do it now! Especially if you haven’t already submitted the initial petition to USCIS. It’s time to clean up your act now.

However, if you’ve already submitted the petition then get ready to find a joint sponsor who can show they’ve filed taxes. There are other requirements for the joint sponsor to meet and that is discussed further down.

Related Post: Using a joint sponsor for your green card application.

petitioner has not filed taxes

If You Haven’t Filed Taxes In 10 Years

It’s one thing to not file your taxes in the last year or two but 10 years? Boy, you really got yourself into a mess now.

I hate being the barer of bad news, but unless you had a rock solid reason for not filing your taxes, this can definitely get you into trouble. Not only with the IRS but USCIS too. ????

You can certainly try to explain yourself to USCIS as to why you haven’t filed taxes in 10 years, but they want evidence and facts.

I’ve heard of people not filing taxes when they don’t owe anything. For example, if you worked part-time for 10 years and you have 3 or 4 exemptions which can mean you owe no federal taxes.

If you fall into this category, you would probably get a refund so I’m not sure why you wouldn’t file taxes.

However, many people who haven’t filed taxes in over 10 years are likely self-employed or working under the table. This means that they have made an income over the years in cash but feel they don’t need to let the IRS know about it.

I’m not a tax professional so I can’t give you any advice related to handling your money. But, I will say that USCIS is more interested in the fact that you’ve earned income and can prove it.

Related Post: How to use a joint sponsor when the K1 petitioner is unemployed.

If You Have Never Filed Tax Returns

Never filed your tax returns? Are you crazy?! There are people being thrown in jail for this right now. ????

Okay, let me calm down and explain your options… having never filing a tax return either means that you’ve never worked a job or that you worked illegally. ????

I’m hoping for your sake it’s the former.

Although USCIS doesn’t technically report you to the IRS or get involved in that way, the adjudicators are human. They want to bring people to the US that are good hardworking individuals.

They want to give immigration benefits to US citizens and LPRs that are good hard working people too. By not filing your taxes for over a decade, that’s not really helping your case.

So if you as a petitioner has not filed taxes, then you need to do something about it! Don’t just sit there darling, let’s make things right.

Finding a Joint Sponsor If You Haven’t Filed Taxes

Alright, now that we’ve talked about your options if you haven’t filed taxes in a number of years or ever, let’s find out what you need to find a joint sponsor.

Before we delve into that though, what exactly is a joint sponsor?

A joint sponsor is someone who is willing to financially be on the hook if the beneficiary applies for government welfare. It’s basically a contract that they sign promising to pay back the US government if the immigrant gets cash assistance or equivalent.

Learn more about the public charge rule and programs that are unavailable to new immigrants.

I tend to recommend that the joint sponsor be someone who is a family member because it’s easier. Of course, you can also use a friend or coworker.

Keep in mind, that this person will need to hand over three years tax returns to you so ask someone that you are close to. ????

Unfortunately, I’ve had a number of clients who had trouble finding a joint sponsor because they weren’t close to family and friends were not comfortable signing the affidavit of support.

In this case, you need to keep looking. You must find someone who has filed taxes and can meet the income requirement to sponsor your spouse or fiance.

Get creative! Maybe someone at your church can help you out? What about distant relatives?

Learn how to find a joint sponsor willing to sign the affidavit of support.

Do You Know What To Include
With Your I-129F Petition?

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Conclusion: Petitioner Has Not Filed Taxes

To summarize, if you as a petitioner has not filed taxes in a long time, the first thing I recommend is to file your back taxes.

Yes – you heard me right! Pay the IRS or get on some type of payment plan to get caught up. I know that no one likes to pay taxes but it’s a must. Don’t ruin your chances of getting approved for the spouse visa or fiancé visa because of this mistake. ????

Next, I recommend finding someone to be a joint sponsor for you. This will help you meet the “public charge” requirement to sponsor someone abroad. Finding a joint sponsor won’t be easy but once you do, you’ll need to have them complete the affidavit of support and provide their tax returns.

Remember, you will still need to complete your own affidavit of support even if you aren’t working. USCIS and DHS want to know what you’ve been doing the last 5 years in the US. Be honest and don’t try to make things up to make yourself look good.

If you were a student, unemployed or a homemaker… say so! There is nothing wrong with this. As long as you have a joint sponsor that meets the income requirement, you are set.



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