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IRS.gov Website
Publication 596
taxmap/pubs/p596-003.htm#en_us_publink1000297448

Rule 3—Your Filing Status Cannot Be "Married Filing Separately"

rule
If you are married, you usually must file a joint return to claim the EIC. Your filing status cannot be "Married filing separately."
taxmap/pubs/p596-003.htm#en_us_publink1000297431

Spouse did not live with you.

rule
If you are married and your spouse did not live in your home at any time during the last 6 months of the year, you may be able to file as head of household, instead of married filing separately. In that case, you may be able to claim the EIC. For detailed information about filing as head of household, see Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information.