Generally, U.S. green card holders (permanent residents) are considered “resident aliens.” However, this term is broad and used differently by different government agencies.

Resident Alien for Tax Purposes (IRS)

When filing taxes, you are required to provide your immigration status. Generally, permanent residents are considered resident aliens. To be sure which immigration status you should provide, the IRS provides a Green Card Test. If you have been given U.S. permanent resident status at any time, then you are a resident alien.

You continue to have U.S. resident status, by IRS standards, unless you do not meet the “substantial presence test:”

  • You voluntarily renounce and abandon this status in writing to the USCIS,
  • Your immigrant status is administratively terminated by the USCIS, or
  • Your immigrant status is judicially terminated by a U.S. federal court.

 

If you meet the green card test at any time during the tax year, but do not meet the substantial presence test for that year, your residency starting date is the first day you are present in the U.S. as a permanent resident. However, if you have been present in the U.S. at any time during the year as a permanent resident, you may choose to be treated as a resident alien for the entire calendar year.

Resident Alien for Immigration Purposes (USCIS)

The term “resident alien” is used by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to refer to permanent residents, conditional residents and returning residents.