AMERICAN NEEDS GREEN CARD FOR VIETNAMESE WIFE

Hello, Everyone

    I am an American citizen looking to retire in a few more years. I have a lovely Vietnamese wife and we intend to spend the remainder of our years here in Vietnam. However, my understanding is that my wife has to obtain a green card from the US in order to be eligible for spousal social security both before and after my death.

   As you might imagine, we have gotten some conflicting information concerning the process - one being that she has to reside in America for five years (unbelievable) before she can obtain the card.

   Has anyone out there been through the process? Any information you can share would be greatly appreciated.

   Thank you for taking the time to read (and respond?) to my post. 

Sincerely...

A few years ago, right after I received my SS, I was asked by a friend (Vietnamese born, American citizen) to help his wife (Vietnamese citizen) to file for spousal benefits.  The wife was 55 at the time and they both insisted that *everyone* said she could qualified for reduced benefits at that age.  I told them that's not the truth, but since I wasn't *everyone*, they didn't believe me.

So, my husband and I made an appointment with a SS office, took her there, and they told her:

1-  Among residents of Asia, only Japanese and South Korean are exempted from the requirement of 5-year residing together in marriage.  For everyone else, the two spouses must live under the same roof in the US for 5 years.

2-  Spouse must be 60 to collect partial spousal benefits and 62 for full benefits. 

3-  SS payment will stop anytime the foreign spouse lives outside of the US for 6 consecutive months. 

There you go, the 5-year requirement is not to receive green card, but to qualify for spousal benefits.  I don't know how long it would take for a foreign spouse to become permanent resident, I didn't ask.

The 6-month clause only applies for non-citizen.  After your wife becomes a US citizen, she can move back to VN and her benefits will not stop. 

Since most Westerners marry Vietnamese women who are much younger than they, I'm afraid your wife will have to wait for a very long time before she turns 60 or 62 to collect her benefits.  By that time, she would more than likely become a US citizen already and the 5-year requirement would be moot.

However, don't forget that if she remarries after you die, she would no longer qualify.

The information above were from SS office, but I strongly suggest you to call them up so there wouldn't be any doubt.

Thank you kindly for the information. It is much appreciated.

Ciambella :

A few years ago, right after I received my SS, I was asked by a friend (Vietnamese born, American citizen) to help his wife (Vietnamese citizen) to file for spousal benefits.  The wife was 55 at the time and they both insisted that *everyone* said she could qualified for reduced benefits at that age.  I told them that's not the truth, but since I wasn't *everyone*, they didn't believe me.

I find this amusing as I have noticed to that Viet Kieu often are adamant about things being legal because "everybody does it." Also once they lock in an idea there is no changing them.  My wife's co-workers insist that she may apply for citizenship in 2 1/2 years but the government website clearly states that if you apply before 3 years not only will your application will be rejected, you will forfeit your fees.   Fortunately she has learned to not listen to them on critical matters.

Ciambella :

2-  Spouse must be 60 to collect partial spousal benefits and 62 for full benefits.

This seems to have changed since you checked and in fact since I last checked.  You can now receive a reduced amount beginning at 62 and the maximum if you wait until your full retirement age.  That is 66 now but I think it is slated to go up.  At full retirement age, the spouse may receive 50% of the earner's "primary insurance amount."  This may be more that his current check if he took early social security.  I believe the "primary insurance amount" is what he would have received had he waited until full retirement age.  If you apply for benefits at 62 the amount may be as low as 32.5% of the primary amount.  https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/applying6.html  The changes since you (and I) last checked were likely to save funds and not particularly targeted against immigrants.

Ciambella :

I don't know how long it would take for a foreign spouse to become permanent resident....

The immigrant spouse gets a temporary green card on arrival and a permanent green card after two years of residence.  Generally the immigrant may not be divorced from the citizen during that time, but there are exceptions for things like spousal abuse.  My wife received a permanent card on arrival as we had already been married almost three years.  As she has not asked for a divorce yet, I guess she intends to stick around.  :top:   The immigrant spouse may apply for citizenship after five years of marriage but with a minimum of three years of residence.   So if for example, you remain in Vietnam for 10 years after you marry and only move to the US after that, your spouse will still have to live in the US for three years to apply for citizenship.  Trips to Vietnam are subtracted in calculating the three years and trips outside the US of over six months start the clock all over again.

Ciambella :

After your wife becomes a US citizen, she can move back to VN and her benefits will not stop.

Absolutely correct.  This is the primary reason that we moved back to the US.

Ciambella :

The information above were from SS office, but I strongly suggest you to call them up so there wouldn't be any doubt.

Also true because the rules and ages of eligibility are clearly subject to change.

"Since most Westerners marry Vietnamese women who are much younger than they, I'm afraid your wife will have to wait for a very long time before she turns 60 or 62 to collect her benefits."

  - Yes, I am about 15 years her senior and we are aware of this - but thank you anyway.

"My wife received a permanent [green] card on arrival as we had already been married almost three years."

  - Okay, this is good news. We have been married over a year and it will probably be another year, or more, before we head to the US.

I suggest you do some homework because the rules can be complicated/confusing.  In addition, they can change without you even knowing.  For example:

http://www.crevelingandcreveling.com/bl … l-security

You should do some research, gather your facts and determine how your spouse qualifies, then confirm with the SS office.  There are various ways your foreign spouse can qualify, even if she is not a citizen or resident of the USA.  You need to determine which fact pattern fits your situation and make sure you meet those requirements.

I am new in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam and I just discovered the Expat.com website.
Can someone explain more about being married (In Vietnam or USA) and the spouse receiving a green card on arrival???
I have heard in the past that is was not recommended to get married in Vietnam and than to apply for the spouse green card. I was also that the best course of action was to apply for a fiancee visa for the future spouse and to get married in the USA.
We really need to understand the process before we make regrettable mistakes and anyone assistance will be greatly appreciated.
Benjamin

Our American immigration processes and policies are the most complex, difficult, and not uniformed. No two cases are ever the same.

For example. Two Americans may marry two VT women, apply for their green cards the same week or day. One person's case may take 6 months and the other person's 12-24 months to process.

(Disclaimer: I am not giving immigration advice, am not a lawyer, not expert, but my own opinions only. USCIS website is the only credible source you must consult).

Now my thoughts.

American marry a foreign spouse. They must live in America to apply for green card. That first green card is called conditional green card. 90 days before the 24th anniversary of the green card, your VT spouse must apply to immigration. That application is called removal of condition. Do not miss this schedule!

She dares not violate the following terms when she receives the conditional GC.
1. Stay married and live under the same roof until the 24th anniversary of the CGC.
2. Do not stay outside the US for 6 or more months. That violates the continued stay clause.
3. After conditions are removed, the second Green Card valid for 10 yrs.
4. Your VT spouse can apply for citizenship on the third anniversary from the date the first CGC was issued, provided she did not violate the continued stay clause.

But note that this process may work smoothly for one VT spouse but completely different for another VT spouse.

So, my final words: always, always, always consult a certified or recognized immigration lawyer, or non-profit organizations that provide free immigration consultation based on income qualifications. And always call or book appointments to talk to an immigration officer at USCIS field office near your address in America.

As for SS benefits, I will not speak to it, because Green Card and Citizenship precede SS benefits. Do not throw the Cart before the horse.

Libhero, Thank you very much for taking the time and energy to clarify very clearly the green card issuance process. I thank you very much for the speedy and prompt response.
Please bear with me, what do the individuals posts mean about Green Card on Arrival"?
One more question: Is it better/easier/faster process to get married in Vietnam and than my new spouse and myself travel back to the US or is it better to apply for a fiancee visa for my fiancee and get married in the USA?

I don't know how much impact it will have on applications from Vietnam but I have read that Fiance visas are coming under greater scrutiny since the San Bernadino shooting where the wife, who took an active part, had entered under a Fiance visa.  Of course Vietnam is already under a high level of scrutiny as there are many suspicious applications at least in the eyes of the State Dept.

A fiance visa is quicker but it relocates the point of scrutiny.  Instead of an intrusive interview in Vietnam, you will be subject to examination after you are married in the US.  This can even involve home visits where authorities look around for evidence of true cohabitation.

I was surprised the wife of my penniless,  alcoholic friend in China for a green card.

She had his kid,  waited five years.  Never been to US before.  She got green card because the kid is a USA citizen I guess.

Now,  obviously looking for richer,  younger replacement husband.

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