I moved to the US in Aug 2015 in G-4 status. I received a work permit (EAD) and have since worked for a US employer. My wife took another job, so I applied for an O-1 visa to continue working and I've been in that status since Oct 2 this year. I also have a pending I-485 currently, but I won't be a permanent resident until sometime next year.

A just came a cross the concept of "first-year choice". I'm wondering if I can use this to file my taxes as a resident for the year of 2016? To summarize my situation:

  1. I've been in the US for all of 2016, but up until Oct 2 I've been an exempt individual in G-4 status.

  2. All my income for 2016 is from the US and no other country currently considers me a tax resident nor will I have to file a tax return anywhere else except the US.

  3. I will become a permanent resident in 2017 (in the unlikely case my petition fails, I will still spend the whole year in O-1 status), thus satisfying the substantial presence test for 2017.

In other words, can I use the first-year choice to become a resident for tax purposes for the whole year of 2016 and thus just file a 1040? I would like to file as married filing separately and take the child deductions for our kids. Is this possible or am I still forced to file as a nonresident? My wife would file separately as a nonresident in order to not have to pay taxes for her income while in G-4 status.

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