Close

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.

New topic