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Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq.
Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq., Immigration Lawyer
Category: Immigration Law
Satisfied Customers: 106863
Experience:  10+ years of experience in various aspects of U.S. Immigration Law.
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I'm an American citizen living outside the US, my wife isn't

Customer Question

Hi, I'm an American citizen living outside the US, my wife isn't an American citizen, we have been married for almost 2 years. What is the procedure of obtaining citizenship for my wife, and where do we start? I have a full time job outside the US, will it be mandatory for my wife to live in the US or visit occasionally ?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Immigration Law
Expert:  Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hello! My name is***** and I am a licensed attorney with more than 13 years of experience. I am here to assist you with your questions. Please understand that if I ask you for additional information, you are NOT charged again and our communications are NOT timed. So please see this as a relaxed conversation between friends. I am here to help.

Well, there is no automatic U.S. Citizenship through marriage. She has to become a U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident first. Does she have that status? If not, we have to talk about getting her that status first.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi there, she does not have a US Lawful permanent resident yet. We got married 2 years ago, and both have full time jobs, so we barely have time to go to the US, can that US Lawful permanent resident be obtained abroad from a US embassy? Would it be mandatory for my wife to reside in the US? She runs her own business and is very busy and can't live in the US and leave everything here.
Expert:  Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Unfortunately, to maintain U.S. Lawful Permanent Residency, and then later U.S. Citizenship, she has to at least live in the U.S. for half a year (180 days or more) per year. Will she be able to do that?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The problem really is that she has a full time business to run, so im not sure if exceptions are made usually from the government, im not sure how she can abandon her company and live there for 180 days a year. Are there any other alternative routes that can be taken or certain exemptions made to avoid living there that long?
Expert:  Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Well, yes, for Lawful Permanent Residency, which would only be temporary, meaning for a few years, not permanently. But unless she plans to serve in the U.S. Military, there aren't any good options for U.S. Citizenship. The idea is that she be physically present in the U.S. in order to absorb U.S. culture and understand what it is to be a U.S. Citizen. Would she be able to get Residency and then maybe have a 4 year period where she mostly lives outside of the U.S. and then after that, could she come to live mostly in the U.S.?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
if she got the residency and lives outside the US for 4 years, what would happen would it void the residency, or say she only visits the us one month per year, would that be fine.Let me tell you the goal here: Basically we want a route for her to obtain US citizenship while we are both working outside the US, its fine we will apply for the residency, but just because we applied for it doesn't mean we are able to live in the US, thats because we both have full time jobs outside the US.Thanks
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
She doesn't have any plans at all to serve in the military
Expert:  Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

She would have to work for the U.S. government or specific U.S. company/organizations outside of the U.S. for that to work. If she is intent on running her own business, that's not going to work. Is there any point in time, either now or in a few years from now where she could spend 181 days in the U.S. out of every 12 months?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
there is a chance, but right now we aren't sure when she has that chance, we eventually plan to live in the US, but not shut down her business now suddenly, If she wants to work for a US company outside the US, are there any rules for that, her friend is an American citizen who owns a pet shop company in the UAE - Dubai, so if for example, she works for that company, would that be considered allowed to live outside the US while on her residency?
Expert:  Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Ok. Let me explain everything to you. Once she gets U.S. Lawful Permanent Residency she needs to reside in the U.S. to maintain it. Anyone that is a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) and is outside of the U.S. for 180 days or more within any 12 month period (not necessarily calendar year) creates a rebuttable presumption of abandonment of residency. That presumption can be rebutted by evidence to the contrary such as filing U.S. taxes, maintaining a home in the U.S. and paying that mortgage or rent, maintaining a U.S. drivers license, U.S. bank accounts with significant movement, etc.

Someone that has been outside of the U.S. for more than 1 year without first having an approved re-entry permit has abandoned their residency and only in very few exceptions (such as serious illness) can they get it back.

Here is an official link:

http://www.uscis.gov/green-card/after-green-card-granted/maintaining-permanent-residence

Since she will need to be outside of the U.S. more than she can be inside of the U.S., she will need to apply for an I-131 Re-Entry Permit. This will allow her to be outside of the U.S. for up to 2 years without abandoning her Residency. At the end of the 2 years, she comes back and can apply for another one for 2 more years. After that they get harder and harder to get and they usually will only issue them for 1 year at a time. So eventually, she will need to start living more time in the U.S. than outside of the U.S. Here is a link to the I-131:

http://www.uscis.gov/i-131

So let's say she does the I-131 and is mostly outside of the U.S. To get U.S. Citizenship through you, she has to have the following:

1) Marriage to you for at least 3 years.

2) Lawful Permanent Residency for at least 3 years.

3) No trips longer than 180 days (which means she needs to come back to the U.S. for a few days every 180 days EVEN THOUGH she has an I-131 Re-Entry Permit, that only protects her against abandonment or Residency. U.S. Citizenship is a different set of laws)

4) 18 months of physical presence in the U.S. out of the 36 months previous to applying.

The fourth is going to be the hardest. So for at least 3 years she should spend 180 days in the U.S. to get her U.S. Citizenship. After that, she can stay in or out, however she likes.

My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have received anything less, please reply back as I am happy to address follow-up questions and there is no additional charge. Also, should you need to chat on the phone, private email or need help reviewing documentation, I am happy to do so for a small additional cost. Let me know if you are interested in these – I am happy to give you more details! When we are done, if you would be so kind as to leave a positive rating for my service, I would sincerely ***** ***** You can do that by clicking on the 3rd, 4th or 5th stars if you see them, or the smiley faces if you see them. You can even ask additional questions without additional charge even after leaving a positive rating. Thank you for your understanding.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your elaboration, please let me share all this with my wife before we close this topic.Thanks
Expert:  Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

No problem. Just so you know, leaving a positive rating does NOT close the thread. You can still respond and ask more questions on this thread, weeks, months or even years later without additional charge. I've had people do that before. So don't be afraid to leave that positive rating. You can do that by clicking on the 3rd, 4th or 5th stars if you see them, or the smiley faces if you see them. Thank you!

Expert:  Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hello Abed. I'm just following up with you to see how everything is going. Did my answer help? Please let me know. Thank you!

Expert:  Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hello. I'm just following up with you again to see how everything is going. Did my answer help? Please let me know. Thank you!

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