Can my wife get a green card and continue to live outside the USA with me?

Discussion in 'Family Based Green Card -Through Marriage/Relative' started by FUGO, May 13, 2018.

  1. FUGO

    FUGO New Member

    Me: US citizen living and working abroad 10 years.
    Wife: Foreign national, not a US citizen. No problems with criminal record, health or anything else substantive.
    2 Kids: Dual nationality, US citizens with US passports, registered and certified with local embassy.

    We have tried twice for my wife to get a tourist visa to visit my family in the USA and she was denied both times. No explanation why. (Does anyone know what the embassy officers are really looking for in those tourist visa applications? I know they are supposed to be assessing non-immigrant intent. But what are they really looking for to decide, a high bank account balance or what? Very frustrating.)

    Since the tourist visa has been a bust, we are considering an application for LPR (green card). The thing is we don't actually want to live in the USA. I have a good job abroad and don't want to leave it, but I want us to be able to make visits to the USA as a family.

    Is there any way for us to get my wife an immigrant visa but with permission to live outside the USA because my work keeps me living outside the USA?

    I have seen the official ICE rule that a lawful permanent resident may not be outside the USA for more than a year without jeopardizing status. But I had an immigration lawyer tell me that if a LPR is out of the country for more than 30 days they could jeopardize their green card status.

    We could visit for a month or so every year to keep that up with no trouble. So the one year rule is not a problem.

    But my bigger question is: In the application process, do we have to act like we are going relocate to and live in the USA and then have a "change of plans"? Or can we be up front about the fact that my work keeps me out of the USA and the green card holder will also be spending most of the year outside the US with me? If we are up front like that about out intention to spend most of the year outside the USA is she going to be denied a green card because there is no real intent to "reside" in the US? Or do we just have to fake our intentions in the application process?

    Also, do I need to be present in the USA for any length of time before we apply? Or can I sponsor her application from where we are outside the US? I spend several weeks a year in the US on vacation. Recently an immigration lawyer advised me that I should be present in the USA for three months before sponsoring my wife's I-130. Three months?! How am I supposed to do that and continue to earn a living?

    Insights and cites to rules and regs much appreciated.

  2. Sm1smom

    Sm1smom Super Moderator

    The answer is NO, your wife cannot get a GC while you both live AND continue to live outside the US. The GC is not a super visa for visiting the US, and a family based GC is intended for family reunification. There’s no reunion happening in this case since you both currently and will continue to live outside the US.
  3. FUGO

    FUGO New Member

    Thank you Super Moderator. Do you or anyone else have insights on the following points?

    What if we decide to move to the USA. Can she get the green card while we both live outside the US with a bona fide intention to go and live in the USA? Or must I return to the USA first? What would give us the best chance for success?

    Does anyone know what the embassy officers are really looking for in those tourist visa applications? I know they are supposed to be assessing non-immigrant intent. But what are they really looking for to decide, a high bank account balance, prior travel to other countries, or what?
  4. SusieQQQ

    SusieQQQ Well-Known Member

    You’d need to show proof of intent to re-establish domicile in the US. If all is in order with the application she would then get an immigrant visa, and only get the actual green card once you (as a family) move to the US. If you then “change your mind” and leave the US again, she’d lose the green card again anyway because she’d violate the required residence requirements if she wasn’t living in the US. (You’re misunderstanding the “one year rule” by the way. It’s a minimum. There is no way she would be able to argue residence before an immigration judge in the situation you describe.)

    The second paragraph is really individual. There is no checklist as such, the CO needs to be assured that there are enough ties in the home country for the person to return. The factors you list can help but are no guarantee. People have gotten tourist visas without those, and been denied with. You don’t say where you live, but unfortunately it’s harder for nationals from certain countries where there is a history of many people overstaying visas or misrepresenting intent.
    Last edited: May 13, 2018
  5. SusieQQQ

    SusieQQQ Well-Known Member

    And this is only a problem because you’re trying to do something that the requirements were never intended for. As a green card is supposed to be to live in the US, and the sponsor should either have established or have intent to establish domicile in the US, this would not be an issue for any genuine applicant.

    By the way, applying for a green card - whether the application fails or she gets it and then loses it later because of the residence issues - is probably the most certain way you can ensure she will never get a tourist visa...
  6. Jbuff

    Jbuff Member

    It all comes down to the impression you leave on the officer interviewing you. Depends on the country you reside in as well. Just like susie said. With higher percentage of people over staying

    Eg my grandparents in south America got denied twice for visitors visa because the embassy officer said almost Their family is In America and even with significant ties back home as far as Property and a Business they might not return with high bank accounts.

    It was. Until my mom aunt and uncle “All US citizens”
    Went back home for a mini family vacay

    Took them into the embassy themselves and expalained that they just would like their Old Parents to visit America from time to time to see family its its easier for tm2 of then to travel than 50 family members .Hence the reason for visitors visa and why they didnt petition for them For Permanent Residence

    They got through that very day. They Pratically had to drag my Grand Dad there. The old guy was fed up after being denied twice i guess.

    Guess its all in how you explain yourself‍♂️ And the way the Interviewing officer Preceives it!!
  7. FUGO

    FUGO New Member

    We wouldn't leave the US like that without some kind of prior permission to do so, based on the fact that my work requires me to be out of the US. Aren't those granted fairly liberally?
    Can't I have a "domicile" in the USA and have a job that keeps me outside the USA at the same time? I have an address, professional licenses, bank accounts, investments, real estate, etc., all in the USA. I just happen to have a job outside the USA. Does that negate my US domicile?

    Don't know where that is, but in Bolivia only the applicant is allowed to enter to embassy. They wouldn't even look at a sworn statement I prepared concerning non-immigrant intent. I could not accompany my wife for the interview.
  8. Sm1smom

    Sm1smom Super Moderator

    You’re hoping to use the GC as some sort of super visa that gives your wife access to the US. That is not what the GC is for - it is for physically residing in the US by the holder.
  9. FUGO

    FUGO New Member

    Well, there are provisions for green card holders to accompany their spouses who work outside the country, are there not? Green card holders are in fact given permission under certain circumstances to make extended stays outside the country, perhaps up to two years with prior approval, right?

    We will in fact live in the US, we will just spend a lot of time outside the US for my work, which is a religious mission of a well-established and recognized religious institution. Isn't that allowed? Why or why not?

  10. SusieQQQ

    SusieQQQ Well-Known Member

    If you’re talking about a re-entry permit, they are granted easily but not indefinitely, it’s 3 permits for a maximum of 5 years. Again, the point of a green card is to live in the US. Also having a reentry permit does not necessarily protect the green card. It’s an indication that the green card holder didn’t plan to abandon residence but it’s not sufficient by itself. Again, an immigration judge looking at your wife’s case from what you’ve described your living arrangements would be, would probably strip her GC in a minute.

    If being in the US for any length of time is a problem for your making a living, as you had indicated, I’d think it’s pretty difficult to argue you have “domicile” in the US. Anyone can have bank accounts and property anywhere outside their country of residence. The most obvious thing you don’t have in the US is your primary residence, which is kind of the definition of domicile. Of course that’s a debate you can have with uscis, or the lawyer you’ve been talking to. I don’t claim to be any kind of expert on this.

    No-one is stopping you from applying for this if you want. You should just be aware that a number of problems you are worried about only arise because you don’t actually plan to live in the US, and that for the same reason there is a good chance that your wife will lose her green card, sooner or later. And if you’ve applied for one for her, even if you don’t get it (which is a definite possibility given the domicile issue) ,that will almost certainly ensure she will never be granted a tourist visa as she will have clearly demonstrated immigrant intent.

    If you do decide to go ahead with the application please come back in due course to update the thread, for any future posters who may have the same questions.
  11. SusieQQQ

    SusieQQQ Well-Known Member

    1. These two posts contradict each other significantly
    2. Uscis have seen and heard it all before and the wool doesn’t get pulled over their eyes that easily

    Have to wonder what your well known religious institution thinks about the truth so far
  12. FUGO

    FUGO New Member

    Let's say we have decided to move to the USA. Assume bona fide intent for me return to the USA and bona fide intent to live there full time. Not really what I want but on balance it's the better choice for us. I will quit my job and get a different job in the USA and we will live in the USA with no room for doubt about it.

    But, we can't move to the USA until we have the immigrant visa for my wife. The visa is uncertain, of course, until it is actually granted, and we can't move there until it is in fact granted. I can't apply for jobs in the USA because the visa process takes about a year or more and I can't tell a prospective employer to give me a job and wait a year for me to show up.

    How can I demonstrate, before the fact of actually living there, our bona fide intent to live and work in the USA so as to successfully obtain the immigrant visa for my wife? Do I really have to separate from my family and go to the USA for three months before applying as that lawyer said?

    Assume the immigrant visa is granted. How much time to we have to pack our things and present ourselves at the port of entry in the USA?

    Thanks for any insights.
  13. 1AurCitizen

    1AurCitizen Registered Users (C)

  14. newacct

    newacct Well-Known Member

    She will likely get an immigrant visa and get permanent residency when she enters the US, but she will sooner or later lose her permanent residency when she doesn't maintain residence in the US, so it would be a big waste of money and effort.
  15. FUGO

    FUGO New Member

    "Granted, a B2 visa is a hard sell for a USC spouse." This. Why? How can you say this without knowing what is the list of criteria the officers use to evaluate the individual case. These people are presumably trained to evaluate the B2 applications. What specifically are they looking for?

    I am not looking at pulling at stunts of trying to live outside the US, so please no more responses on that. I asked that people assume I am moving back to the US.

    "You have the option to travel to the US as often as you like and set up interviews and establish residence. There are no restrictions on US entry for you as a USC, or checking out schools for your USC kids."

    I know I can come and go as I please. I have been doing it for 10 years. I don't need to travel to the US to apply for jobs and look at schools. We can do that when we get there or do it on line. Anyway it is expensive to go back and forth and it takes me away from my family. I don't want to do it that way. I want to know how to establish bona fide intent while still outside the US and then all go to the US together.

    "visa expires 6 months from the date of medical" Useful information. Thank you. Can you cite me the rule number on that?
  16. SusieQQQ

    SusieQQQ Well-Known Member

    The Department of State itself is very helpful about this. It’s not very different from what you’ve been told already.

    When a sponsor has clearly not maintained a domicile in the United States, he/she must re-establish a U.S. domicile to be a sponsor. The aspiring sponsor may take steps, including the examples given below, to show that the United States is his/her principal place of residence:

    • Find employment in the United States
    • Secure a residence in the United States
    • Register children in U.S. schools
    • Relinquish residence abroad
    • Other evidence of a U.S. residence
    If the sponsor establishes U.S. domicile, he or she must return to the United States to live before the sponsored immigrant may enter the United States. The sponsored immigrant must enter the United States with or after the sponsor.
  17. FUGO

    FUGO New Member


    I get all that. Thanks. And if I were physically present in the US I would do those things. But don't you see these things suggest that I have to give everything up on the POSSIBILITY that my wife gets the immigrant visa. If she gets the visa I'll quit my job and we'll go to the US together. No problem. She will go with me and we'll start over with jobs, schools and all the rest. But I don't want to make extremely costly and irreversible changes that will leave me screwed if the visa for some reason doesn't come through. Which is why I want to square away the visa first and then do all the things on that list and we'll go.

    How can I convince them of my intent to go and live in the USA before actually doing so. Isn't it completely reasonable to wait and see how the visa works out before making massive changes in our life like all the things on that list?
  18. SusieQQQ

    SusieQQQ Well-Known Member

    If you have the financial sponsorship and domicile issues sorted out there is no reason, other than your wife having a criminal record involving crimes of moral turpitude or you being subject to the Adam Walsh act, that your wife would not get an immigrant visa. I’m assuming neither of those apply. These are the same guidelines that all other expat couples follow to establish domicile.

    What you think is “reasonable” and what USCIS thinks is reasonable may not be the same thing. For example, USCIS may think it’s reasonable to ask a sponsor of an immigrant visa to show a very clear commitment to move back to the US, such that they do not end up issuing green cards to people who do not actually live in the US, just like asking for tax returns etc is a more sure way of checking the sponsor meets the income requirements than just taking their word for what they say they make. On that subject, you are up to date with filing tax returns with the IRS, correct?
  19. FUGO

    FUGO New Member

    " are up to date with filing tax returns with the IRS, correct?"

    No prob. Tax returns up to date. I am a model citizen with income and resources that dwarf the requirements. Asking for tax returns to prove income is not any kind of burdensome imposition. Making me quit my job, sell my house, register my kids in US schools, etc., etc., without any certainty on the other side seems highly inequitable to me.

    So short of all the things on that list, how do I do that? I get that I have to convince some person at the embassy who meets me for half an hour (or who may even decide he doesn't need to meet me) that I am sincere about my life's plans. Does that mean I have to quit a good job prematurely and make other highly disruptive moves to prove it to them, and then sit around waiting for a year as the wheels grind and uncertainty reigns?

    I understand your point about her criminal record and Adam Walsh Act violations being the only impediment, but we all know that bureaucrats and the functionaries in these wretched systems can be incompetent and/or malicious. To expect me to give up everything solely on the if come is ridiculous.
  20. SusieQQQ

    SusieQQQ Well-Known Member

    You only need to prove domicile at the time of the interview, which is at the end not the beginning of the
    process. And no, it’s not decided in a half hour interview, it’s decided based on a pile of documentation you provide. Judging from what you’ve put above so far, you have a lot of research you need to do on the process still, I’d suggest you start with the official uscis/DoS pages.

    At the end of the day you need to make the decision about whether or not you want this badly enough to follow the uscis guidelines. Quitting your job, selling your house etc are all perfectly normal things for someone to do when they move back to the US and there is no reason on earth to expect a US citizen spouse with US citizen children would be unable to have their wife/mother be able to move with them. Conspiracy theories of malicious “functionaries” (not a very nice term to use on people who do an often difficult and unappreciated job, by the way) are easily addressed through the system where you are notified if they intend to deny and can appeal the reasons beforehand, and you can still appeal after even if there is still a denial. If you feel it’s a“ridiculous” thing to ask of you, it’s entirely your prerogative not to apply for a green card for your wife.

    I’m not really one for going round in circles repeating myself so I’ve contributed all I can to this thread, good luck with your decision.
    Last edited: May 16, 2018

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