My mother in law will be coming here soon from her home country. She is not going to be coming through the united nations, she is simply going to be here on a US Visa - based on a process my wife filed to get her here. Its an immigrant visa based on her daughter (my wife) filling out the form I-130 (petition for Alien Relative).

From my own tax purposes since she will be eating/drinking, living with us, as well as using our utilities. This means I am responsible for her. Should I expect to enter any of this information on my taxes (can I) or should I simply update the number of people I claim on my paycheck?

I already am claiming my wife and my kids and was wondering if it makes sense to up it by one or whether there may be some tax advantages for me?

My mother in law has the following visa type: IR5 - PARENT OF US CITIZEN

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    Note that you can claim anything you want on your paycheck (W-4). The concern is what you can actually claim when you file. If you withhold too much tax, then you could be subject to penalties when you file.
    – D Stanley
    Jun 12, 2017 at 16:58
  • Do you know what type of visa she'll be on? I would like to do more research and expand my answer if possible.
    – Michael
    Jun 12, 2017 at 17:23
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    Wait - in the US, if you "ordinary, American, local mother-in-law" lives with you - it's a deduction? Wow!
    – Fattie
    Jun 12, 2017 at 21:51
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    @Fattie: As I understand it, you can claim a live-in relative as a dependent when you file as long as you provide more than half of their support. The tricky part is estimating how much support you provide (housing, utilities, food, etc).
    – James
    Jun 13, 2017 at 13:37
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    @James also, they cannot claim an allowance for themselves on their taxes.
    – D Stanley
    Jun 13, 2017 at 14:26

2 Answers 2


When your mother-in-law enters the US with a US immigrant visa, she will immediately at that instant become a US permanent resident, and she will immediately pass the Green Card Test to be a US resident alien for tax purposes. (Though the First Year of Residency rules may apply to render her a resident for only the part of the year after she arrived. But if she is married, she can choose to file jointly and she and her spouse will be treated as residents for the whole year.)

As to whether you can claim her as a dependent, that also depends on other factors, such as whether her income that year is less than $4000, and whether you provided more than half of her support that year.

  • @CactusCake - But I think during the process of getting her visa these were in fact the forms I already filled out. The only other thing I need to do is get her a SSN...no?
    – JonH
    Jun 13, 2017 at 17:43
  • @JonH my mistake, I came on a different class of visa and had a different experience. If your mother in law went through "Consular Processing" then she will indeed become a Permanent Resident as soon as the CBP official grants entry, the green card should arrive in the mail a few weeks later.
    – CactusCake
    Jun 13, 2017 at 17:55

There are lots of "ifs" with regarding claiming someone as a dependent. TurboTax has a pretty good breakdown here.

However, the biggest qualification is:

The person must be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, a U.S. resident, or a resident of Canada or Mexico.

Therefore, as a result you cannot claim your mother as a dependent until she fulfills that requirement.

As for withholding more on your paychecks, that is up to you. An individual can claim any number they want on the W-4. However, when you do your taxes and you've claimed too much, that's when you have to pay taxes.

Update: After researching it appears that the I-130 form is used only to establish relationship between the US Citizen and the alien relative. It does NOT permit entrance or residence in the US. However, after the form I-130 form is approved, you can start the immigration process by applying for a visa. It sounds like your mother-in-law was already approved for a visa. On the immigrant visa form, you can elect to receive a Social Security Number - which you'll need (or a ITIN) for when you claim her as a dependent.

Bottom line, once she arrives in the US, you can claim her on your taxes as a dependent provided you meet the other qualifications (see link above).

You could also consult a CPA or immigration attorney for more credible advice.

  • Looks like I will need to foot the bill for practically everything. Thank God I am money bags - NOT!
    – JonH
    Jun 12, 2017 at 17:31
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    Well, that's why I asked about what visa. Because if her visa establishes her as a US resident, then she could be claimed. There are lots of "ifs" with the tax code. I'll do more research and let you know, but it might not hurt to consult with a CPA. In the meantime, here's something that may help: bankrate.com/finance/taxes/…
    – Michael
    Jun 12, 2017 at 17:34
  • Ok if you haven't seen I edited my question. She would be coming here via my wife filing form I-130 (petition for alien relative).
    – JonH
    Jun 12, 2017 at 17:39
  • thanks for the link it appears I would satisfy all the conditions except the last one. The wording on the last one doesn't make a lot of sense: Citizen/residency test: The claimed dependent must be a citizen, national or resident of the United States or a resident of Canada or Mexico at some time during the calendar year in which the tax year of the taxpayer begins. She's not a citizen but she will be applying for a green card.
    – JonH
    Jun 12, 2017 at 17:41
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    When a person enters the US with an immigrant visa (which is what the OP's mother-in-law is getting), they immediately and automatically become a US permanent resident, which makes them immediately a US resident alien for tax purposes under the Green Card Test.
    – user102008
    Jun 13, 2017 at 2:46

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