Heidi Klum is a German-American model, television host, businesswoman, fashion designer, television producer, and occasional actress. In 2008, she became an American citizen while maintaining her native German citizenship.
Last year, we believed to be closer than ever to the so needed immigration reform. In fact, Republicans and Democrats were able to compromise and pass the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 in the Senate. The “Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill” , as it was known, outlined a path to citizenship to millions of undocumented immigrants that are today in the U.S.
The Bill promised to give individuals in unlawful status the legal status of Registered Provisional Immigrant Status (RPI), which would allow them to legally work and travel outside of the U.S. There would be a penalty fee of $500 plus any application fee that the government might set out. The bill would also set an eligibility list, which would exclude mostly unlawful immigrants with a criminal background. But after 10 years, aliens in RPI status would be able to adjust to Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) Status, that is, green card holders, through a Merit Based system the Act would create. The individual on LPR status would then be able to apply to become a U.S. citizen when the time comes. The signed Bill would also benefit DREAMERs, which are individuals who among other things were brought to the U.S. as children. People in the DREAMER act Status would get their green cards after 5 years and they would be eligible for citizenship immediately after getting their green card.
Although the Senate passed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill, the House of Representative has still to vote on it. Since August of 2013, the immigrant community, and immigration activists have been waiting for the big moment, but with everything going on in the world, the Bill has been pushed back. Lately, however, the House has put the immigration Bill back on the table for discussion. Indeed, the House speaker John Boehner, is expected to soon outline which pieces of the reform may win support from the Majority Republicans at the House. It is anticipated that the House may consider a series of immigration Bills rather than one comprehensive legislation as it was passed by the Senate. There are also some rumors that Republicans do not want to set a path to citizenship, but to legalization. According to some political news, some Republicans have proposed a Bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to gain legal status, but they would need a family member or U.S. employers to sponsor them for citizenship. Other Republicans would like to bar citizenship for the undocumented immigrants who are benefited from the Immigration Reform. However, some republicans like Rep. Raul Rrijalva said that he would not vote for a Bill that allows undocumented immigrants to gain legal status but prohibits them from becoming U.S. citizens, saying: “barring legalized immigrants from ever becoming citizens would set a troubling precedent.” Indeed, this would create a second class status to our society. Nonetheless, we all want a comprehensive immigration reform to pass; thus if we will have a Bill that includes a path to legalization, but does not refer to citizenship, as long as it doesn’t bans it, so be it.
As we end the first month of 2014, I can feel the pressure of a new tax season fast approaching. As you probably remember, the Federal income tax return filing deadline is April 15.
Thus, I would like to take the opportunity to remind our immigrant readers the importance of complying with the income tax filing requirements in order to preserve, or attain legal status in the future.
First, every lawful permanent resident (green card holders) or citizens of the United States is a U.S. tax resident. As such, you are required to report taxes in the U.S. on your worldwide income. Moreover, filing as a nonresident may result in a finding that you have abandoned your lawful permanent resident status. Permanent residents also have another good reason for complying with tax laws. When a permanent resident applies for naturalization, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will inquire about U.S. tax filings since becoming a legal permanent resident.
On the other hand, undocumented workers are also required to report income, and when necessary, pay taxes. Even when you don’t have a social security, are receiving cash payments, and are not officially on the books; you can use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to comply with this requirement. Considering a possible future immigration reform, it is crucial that undocumented immigrants file tax returns because they serve as proof of U.S. presence and good moral character.
Additionally, all immigrants with temporary visas that allow them to work in the U.S. should also file U.S. taxes.
For more information on the requirements of filing tax returns we recommend you contact a tax professional, or try the free services offered through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA).
If you are a male living in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 26 years old, and you are planning to become a U.S. citizen someday, you must register with the Selective Service.
When you register with the selective service, you will not be automatically required to go to the military. Only during a crisis requiring draft, you could be called. Nonetheless it will be a lottery process and after being selected, they will conduct a mental, physical and moral fitness evaluation to determine if you should be deferred or exempted from the Armed Forces.
Not only U.S. citizens and permanent residents need to register, but also undocumented individuals, asylum applicants, refugees and DACA recipients who plan to become a U.S. citizen one day. Failing to register may cause you not to obtain certain federal benefits, such as federal student loans and grants, and U.S. citizenship.
Furthermore, according to the selective service website, “Men who fail to register may also be unable to demonstrate “good moral character” for purposes of the DREAM Act, so failure to register may bar them from DREAM Act benefits if the DREAM passes and has a “good moral character” requirement in it. Men who fail to register with the Selective Service may also be affected if an immigration reform bill requires men to register in order to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident. “
For more information and to register online please visit http://www.sss.gov/default.html
About the Authors
Laura Schonberg and Andrea Timerman developed their passion for immigration law through their own experience immigrating to the United States. Laura received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Juris Doctor Degree from Florida International University. Andrea received a Bachelors in Business Administration from Pace University, NY, and her Juris Doctor Degree from Florida International University. Both attorneys obtained ample experience in the immigration field before partnering to work as immigration attorneys at Schonberg & Timerman, P.L.