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Is it risky to file file taxes as "married filing separately" before filing the I-751?

Los Angeles, CA |

Hi everyone,

I am a US citizen, my wife received her green card based on our marriage. Last year, we filed taxes as "married filing jointly" and received a refund; but this year, the situation is a little different.

We will owe about $800 if filing jointly and only owe about $150 if filing separately.

Is it risky for our future petitions (I-751) and application for US Citizenship to file our taxes as "married filing separately this year"? It will save us money but I don't want to take any risks and don't mind paying the extra $650 if it is a lot safer.

Thanks a lot for your help!

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Attorney answers 5


It is not risky as long as you are living together and can demonstrate that your marriage is bona fide.

(213) 394-4554 x0 Mr. Shusterman is a former INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) with over 35 years of immigration experience. His response to your question is general in nature, as not all the facts are known to him. You should retain an attorney experienced in immigration law to review all the facts in your case in order to receive advice specific to your case. Mr. Shusterman's statement above does not create an attorney/client relationship.


A joint tax return is not a make or breake item for a I-751. You should be able to explain the reasons for filing seperately and demonstrate a bona fide marriage.

San Francisco Immigration Attorney for removal defense, all work visas and avenues to permanent residence, investors, and naturalization. Call 415.834.0600 for free phone consultation - mention Avvo! 235 Montgomery Street, Suite 728, San Francisco, CA 94104 /


It's more problematic while people seeking immigration benefits file "head of household" when they should file as married.

Curtis Pierce
213 327 0044

Carl Michael Shusterman

Carl Michael Shusterman


Good answer!


It's the American way: Pay the least amount of taxed possible. There is absolutely no reason you and your wife cannot file separate returns so long as you check off the married filing separately box. Saving on the taxes owe is an excellent reason for doing so and you can expect no adverse immigration consequences.

Jeffrey A. Devore, Esq.
Board Certified Immigration Attorney
Devore Law Group, P.A.
2925 PGA Blvd., Suite 204
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410
Telephone: (561) 478-5353
Facsimile: (561) 478-2144
Skype: jeffrey.a.devore


It is safer to file jointly than separately, but $650 is a lot of money. If you ran both forms and both of these figures are legitimate (which I am a little surprised it would be that much!) then I would tell you to file the way that saves you the most money, and use that reason as your evidence of why you filed that way. If you have a lot of other documents for your I-751 and naturalization applications, then in the long run, it will not make that much difference in my opinion.

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