Prolonged absence : Will i be approved for citizenship or shuld i save $665.00

arsha

Registered Users (C)
My case is pretty strange. I have family based GC since 1992. From 1992 to 2005 i had been in USA every year between 20-30 days. Every time i returned yo USA within one year ( always absent for more than 6 months). Twice i had applied for parole visa for 2 years and returned to USA within the time allowed in the re-entry permit. I have not paid any tax or filed tax form prior to 2005 as i had not earned anything in USA and my presence had not been more than 30 days in a year. In short and simple i did not get a suitable job here and continued with my job in home country and visited USA on vacation. I never had any problem with immigration or law.

Since July 2005 i have been here permanently. In the last 5 years, I have visited my home country every year for 90-120 days . Total absence 612 days in 6 trips.All trips less than 6 months. I have filed tax in USA for the last 5 years.

I cannot explain my prolonged absence earlier. Should i file N-600??? I am eligible for it now. What are my chances of getting approved. Will filing N400 affect my GC anyway?? It is expiring in 2012. Please advise. Thanks.
 
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Jackolantern

Registered Users (C)
N-600? Did either of your parents become a US citizen before you turned 18?

Assuming your answer is NO to the above, N-400 is what you would file, not N-600.

You don't need to explain your absences pre-2005 absences, as they only look back 5 years for determinations of physical presence and continuous residence. Although I have to say I find it very strange that they let you maintain your green card after all those absences for so many years, unless you were in the US military.

However, your taxes could be an issue, either for your N-400 or the IRS or both. As a permanent resident you're still supposed to file taxes on worldwide income even if you're not working in the US, and then you would use the available treaties and exemptions and deduction to reduce or eliminate your US tax liability. You only escape having to file if you earned less than the threshold where filing is mandatory (currently about $8000/yr -- but it may have been around $6000 back in 1992).
and my presence had not been more than 30 days in a year
It seems like you're referring to the 2555 exclusion. If you want that exclusion you still have to file taxes along with form 2555, you cannot wish the tax filing away because you spend less than 30 days per year in the US. In addition, form 2555 is a problem for permanent residents because to qualify for form 2555 you're supposed to be a bona fide resident of a foreign country, whereas maintaining the green card requires being a bona fide resident of the US.

If I were you, before filing N-400 I would seek assistance from a tax accountant to help with filing those tax returns from 1992-2004.
 

arsha

Registered Users (C)
Sorry i meant N-400. I got GC through sponsoring by brother. I was told as there is Double Tax avoidance treaty i need not pay tax on my income here. Any how i will check with tax accountant.

As i was coming to usa every year i was able to maintain LPR. I got a new GC after 10 years and USCIS renewed it routinely after FP.
 

Jackolantern

Registered Users (C)
I was told as there is Double Tax avoidance treaty i need not pay tax on my income here.
Not having to pay is not the same as not having to file. You still have to file, and with the filing you assert the relevant treaties and exemptions and credits to reduce or eliminate your US tax liability. Tax treaties and exemptions have limits and rules and calculations, so you cannot automatically assume that your US tax liability is always zero if you spend the entire year working outside the US. If you were in a country with lower tax rates than the US, you might owe something to the IRS.

Any how i will check with tax accountant.
There are firms and individuals that specialize in multinational taxation of individuals. If you were working in Canada or the UK or Mexico, you'll probably find some that specialize in taxation of US plus that specific country. Start searching on Google.
 
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GungaDin

Registered Users (C)
Sorry i meant N-400. I got GC through sponsoring by brother. I was told as there is Double Tax avoidance treaty i need not pay tax on my income here. Any how i will check with tax accountant.

As i was coming to usa every year i was able to maintain LPR. I got a new GC after 10 years and USCIS renewed it routinely after FP.


You still have to file your tax return. (US and the other country). If there is a tax treaty, you will usually get a credit for the taxes paid in the other country. E.g. If you owe $5000 in taxes based on your 1040, and you've already paid $4000 in taxes in the other country, then you need to cough up only $1K to the IRS. (But find a tax accountant who is familiar with your specific tax treaty as there are some additional forms to file in addition to the 1040)
Better to not have filed a tax return than to have filed as a non-resident (because then you would have been Toast). Worst case is that you may have some non-filing penalties, but once you have this all squared away, you should be able to apply for naturalization without worrying about the Tax issies.
 

Jackolantern

Registered Users (C)
As i was coming to usa every year i was able to maintain LPR.
Usually when an LPR spends less than 30 days per year in the US, after 3 to 5 straight years of doing that (without a reentry permit), an official at the port of entry eventually notices the pattern and gives them a warning, or they confiscate the green card and tell them to see an immigration judge to plead to keep the LPR status. You're very lucky to have done this for over a decade without running into trouble like that.
 

sanjoseaug20

Registered Users (C)
Better to not have filed a tax return than to have filed as a non-resident (because then you would have been Toast). Worst case is that you may have some non-filing penalties, but once you have this all squared away, you should be able to apply for naturalization without worrying about the Tax issies.

The bigger issue is opening up a can of worms. The OP should have been filing as "resident" since the day he became a PR. That's a whole lot of time for the OP ... 19 years now. He/she has been lucky in the immigration perspective, I hope the luck stays the same for taxation. Do NOT do it yourself. Find an accountant who has handled this situation before. It is possible you run into people who charge too much, but it is better to find someone good and pay a little, than find a novice and eventually pay a lot.
 

GungaDin

Registered Users (C)
The bigger issue is opening up a can of worms. The OP should have been filing as "resident" since the day he became a PR. That's a whole lot of time for the OP ... 19 years now. He/she has been lucky in the immigration perspective, I hope the luck stays the same for taxation. Do NOT do it yourself. Find an accountant who has handled this situation before. It is possible you run into people who charge too much, but it is better to find someone good and pay a little, than find a novice and eventually pay a lot.

What's (not) done is done... OP has to try to make the bet of their situation and that is to file all the back tax returns (and pay any taxes/penalties).
I agree that OP should not even attempt to do this themselves as they have to figure out the details of the tax treaty in effect for each year (there could be changes from year to year).
 

Bobsmyth

Volunteer Moderator
My case is pretty strange. I have family based GC since 1992. From 1992 to 2005 i had been in USA every year between 20-30 days. Every time i returned yo USA within one year ( always absent for more than 6 months). Twice i had applied for parole visa for 2 years and returned to USA within the time allowed in the re-entry permit. I have not paid any tax or filed tax form prior to 2005 as i had not earned anything in USA and my presence had not been more than 30 days in a year. In short and simple i did not get a suitable job here and continued with my job in home country and visited USA on vacation. I never had any problem with immigration or law.
.

How did you manage to keep and renew your GC between 92-05 (13 years) with 2 reentry permits which would only cover 4 years of that period?Did you never get hassled at POE on return trips when you didn't have reentry permit?
 

arsha

Registered Users (C)
How did you manage to keep and renew your GC between 92-05 (13 years) with 2 reentry permits which would only cover 4 years of that period?Did you never get hassled at POE on return trips when you didn't have reentry permit?

I returned every time within a year mostly in 11 months. I never had any hassle at POE. They used to stamp the PP and sometimes written out 11 months. I applied for renewal and was here for FP and able to get new GC routinely. Pre 2005 my global annual income was less than $5000/- and have paid tax in my country.

What is your advice should i go ahead now or wait till 2012 (coincide with GC expiry) ? Hopefully i do not plan leave USA for next 2 years.
 

sanjoseaug20

Registered Users (C)
I returned every time within a year mostly in 11 months. I never had any hassle at POE. They used to stamp the PP and sometimes written out 11 months. I applied for renewal and was here for FP and able to get new GC routinely. Pre 2005 my global annual income was less than $5000/- and have paid tax in my country.

What is your advice should i go ahead now or wait till 2012 (coincide with GC expiry) ? Hopefully i do not plan leave USA for next 2 years.

I am not a lawyer, but ... why don't you file in 2011? That way, you would have 5 full calendar years (2006-2010) with good residency and more importantly tax records. By the time they get to the interview, you would have filed 2010 tax returns, right.

Income less than USD 5000 - that requires NO tax return if you were a citizen already, or (not 100% sure) if you were on H1. This is because the income is below their threshold. While they can always ask questions, the probability is low since you do not owe any tax.

I would say file Jan 15, 2011. [ Sooner might also work and finally it is your call. ]
 

Jackolantern

Registered Users (C)
I returned every time within a year mostly in 11 months. I never had any hassle at POE. They used to stamp the PP and sometimes written out 11 months. I applied for renewal and was here for FP and able to get new GC routinely. Pre 2005 my global annual income was less than $5000/- and have paid tax in my country.

What is your advice should i go ahead now or wait till 2012 (coincide with GC expiry) ? Hopefully i do not plan leave USA for next 2 years.
If it is true that your worldwide income was always below US$5000 pre-2005, then I would say go ahead and file now. But make sure you have filed for every tax year from 2005 to 2009 before you file the N-400.
 

Jackolantern

Registered Users (C)
I am not a lawyer, but ... why don't you file in 2011? That way, you would have 5 full calendar years (2006-2010) with good residency and more importantly tax records. By the time they get to the interview, you would have filed 2010 tax returns, right.
No need to wait until 2011. It is already about 5 years minus 90 days since returning in July 2005. Filing this May should be fine.
 

arsha

Registered Users (C)
Thanks everyone in the forum. Special thanks are due to Jackolantern. My journey has come to an end after 18 years. I have become a USC last week. No questions were asked about my absences from USA prior to 2005. IO asked whether i have paid tax in the last five years . I answered yes and volunteered to show the IRS transcribes, he was not interested to see them.

From my case i can conclude USCIS is more interested in last 5 ( or3) years records and they didn't even bother about my 2 years absence twice on re-entry permit. Thanks all.
 

arsha

Registered Users (C)
Thanks for the update!

When did you apply, and when were you interviewed?

I applied 2 days after your post on April 21st. I got encouragement from your reply and initially i was not sure of my case and i did not want to waste $675/-. Interviewed at Chicago late Aug and OC on Sep/28.

This forum was very helpful. I have been a silent reader as my knowledge was limited and i did not want to give any wrong advice.
 
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