Can green card holder live outside the USA?

Me: US citizen living and working abroad 10 years.
Wife: Foreign national, not a US citizen.
2 Kids: Dual nationality, US citizens with registration and certification from 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, a high bank account balance or what? Very frustrating.)

Since visit 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?

Thanks!!

Here's the official answer from: US Customs and Border Protection.

Thanks for that. I have seen that. But I had an immigration lawyer tell me that if a LPR is out of the country for more than 30 days they might have trouble getting back in.

Avoiding a stay outside the US for more than one year is no problem. We would come and visit for a month every year to keep that up with no trouble. I maintain an address in the USA and many other contacts besides.

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 perhaps 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? Is she going to be denied a green card because there is no real intent to "reside" in the US? Or do we have to fake it?

During the interview for green card, one of the questions asked is whether the applicant has an intention of living permanently in the States.  I seriously doubt it would please the INS to hear the answer, "Not really, I just want a green card to make multiple entries and exits.  In reality, I plan to make my home in another country."  (Remember, the applicant has to swear under oath for the integrity of his/her provided information).

Business traveling out of the country is one thing, making your permanent home overseas and only visiting the US is another.

An anecdote:  My niece's best friend, an Asian, has been married to a very high level American oil executive for more than 20 years.  Due to his position, he lives and works all over the world for prolonged periods of time and she MUST accompany him as DEMANDED by the oil company AND the government of the countries where the oil company is doing business.  They're joint owners of a house in SF Bay and a house in Asia; they each has investment properties and businesses in other countries.  She receives spousal benefits as part of his position in the US oil company, and spousal benefits in his retirement package, as well as SS when he retires.  All of that, and she has not been able to obtain a US permanent residence card in 20 years because she has never lived for more than one or two months at a time in the States. 

Again, that's only an anecdote, but here are the answers (all of them carry more or less the same message) from 10 immigration attorneys.

Ciambella :

During the interview for green card, one of the questions asked is whether the applicant has an intention of living permanently in the States.  I seriously doubt it would please the INS to hear the answer, "Not really, I just want a green card to make multiple entries and exits.  In reality, I plan to make my home in another country."  (Remember, the applicant has to swear under oath for the integrity of his/her provided information).

Business traveling out of the country is one thing, making your permanent home overseas and only visiting the US is another.

An anecdote:  My niece's best friend, an Asian, has been married to a very high level American oil executive for more than 20 years.  Due to his position, he lives and works all over the world for prolonged periods of time and she MUST accompany him as DEMANDED by the oil company AND the government of the countries where the oil company is doing business.  They're joint owners of a house in SF Bay and a house in Asia; they each has investment properties and businesses in other countries.  She receives spousal benefits as part of his position in the US oil company, and spousal benefits in his retirement package, as well as SS when he retires.  All of that, and she has not been able to obtain a US permanent residence card in 20 years because she has never lived for more than one or two months at a time in the States. 

Again, that's only an anecdote, but here are the answers (all of them carry more or less the same message) from 10 immigration attorneys.

It does not matter who is pleased or not by what they hear - one of the requirements for Green Card is to move center of life to the US.

When applying for spousal Green Card the non-US party cannot live in the US unless it is spontaneous marriage and Adjustment of Status.

Real estate and/or other investments have no bearing on US immigration unless it is being used to satisfy requirements for Affidavit of Support.

He can file hardship and work related non-US residence. Will take a while but not 20 years.

As far as SS benefits for foreign spouses - no clue.

FOGU :

Thanks for that. I have seen that. But I had an immigration lawyer tell me that if a LPR is out of the country for more than 30 days they might have trouble getting back in.

Avoiding a stay outside the US for more than one year is no problem. We would come and visit for a month every year to keep that up with no trouble. I maintain an address in the USA and many other contacts besides.

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 perhaps 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? Is she going to be denied a green card because there is no real intent to "reside" in the US? Or do we have to fake it?

Beware of immigration lawyers. Only a few good ones out there. What he told you translates to rose fertilizer aka BS.
Every visa rejection comes with a reason. What was your wife given? Part of requirements for Green Card holders is moving center of life to the US. She can request re- entry permit for up to two consecutive years per application based on your job - if it is legit. I work from home in XYZ is not a reason. As entries/exits are recorded border hopping is a thing of the past. What country are you in what passport does your wife hold?

yes it is fine

twostep :
FOGU :

Thanks for that. I have seen that. But I had an immigration lawyer tell me that if a LPR is out of the country for more than 30 days they might have trouble getting back in.

Avoiding a stay outside the US for more than one year is no problem. We would come and visit for a month every year to keep that up with no trouble. I maintain an address in the USA and many other contacts besides.

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 perhaps 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? Is she going to be denied a green card because there is no real intent to "reside" in the US? Or do we have to fake it?

Beware of immigration lawyers. Only a few good ones out there. What he told you translates to rose fertilizer aka BS.
Every visa rejection comes with a reason. What was your wife given? Part of requirements for Green Card holders is moving center of life to the US. She can request re- entry permit for up to two consecutive years per application based on your job - if it is legit. I work from home in XYZ is not a reason. As entries/exits are recorded border hopping is a thing of the past. What country are you in what passport does your wife hold?

It's Bolivia.

She has only applied for a tourist visa and been denied twice. No explanation at all. The first time she was given a pamphlet style form letter with nothing particular to her application. The second time nothing at all. Just told "your application is denied" by the dude behind the window.

I still maintain an address and professional licenses in the US. I am physically present in Bolivia, but bank accounts, investments, property, all of it still in the US. My job and my presence here is legit. Over 10 years and could be easily documented. I make one trip a year home, but I want to do it as a family now instead of by myself. That is why I want to get an immigrant visa for her and get permission for her to accompany me on my job which requires me to be outside the US.

(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? They must have some criteria. Frustrating beyond belief.)

Thanks.

You can stay outside the US for one year - and not a day longer - as long as you have no intention of abandoning your US residence. If you’re gone more than six months, the CBP officer who admits you when you return might ask questions about your current situation, your intentions, and why you were away for so long. As long as you left a full life in the US to return to, just answer truthfully.

If you fear that you might be gone longer than one year, you must apply for a re-entry permit before you leave. See the uscis . gov website for how to do that. A re-entry permit will allow you to be away for up to - and not beyond - two calendar years.

You can stay outside the United States for up to one year as a lawful permanent resident without necessarily losing your LPR status. If you need to be away for more than a year, you need to obtain a reentry permit prior to leaving the country; a reentry permit will allow you to remain out of the country for anything up to (but not including) two years.

If you do not have a reentry permit and you are out of the country for more than six months but less than a year, the border official may question whether you have abandoned your residency. However, in cases where this has happened, the LPR almost always wins their case in immigration court; the burden of proof in immigration court is on the government and it’s generally fairly easy to defeat the government’s case if you have not, in fact, actually abandoned your US residence.

Note that while an absence of more than six months but less than a year will not necessarily terminate your lawful permanent residence, it will break your continuous residency for the purpose of naturalization. In some situations, mainly where you are required to be abroad as a condition of your employment or that of your spouse, you can file certain paperwork to preserve continuous residency for the purpose of naturalization prior to departing the United States, such that your absence will not count as a break in continuous residency for naturalization purposes. This is separate from and in addition to obtaining a reentry permit, and you should probably do both if you expect to be out of the country for more than six months.

Are you with a US company in Bolivia?

I am surprised she has not asked for the denial reason and you did not follow up. Reasons are required to be given. Very long shot - inquire about it.

She is your wife, your property/investment/... is in the US.  What binding ties did she give with her applications?

twostep :

Are you with a US company in Bolivia?

I am surprised she has not asked for the denial reason and you did not follow up. Reasons are required to be given. Very long shot - inquire about it.

She is your wife, your property/investment/... is in the US.  What binding ties did she give with her applications?

How can you follow up? The officer denies and dismisses and that's that. THere is no appeal. They gave an explanation but it was generic, boilerplate form letter they give out on every denial. She had to enter the interview by herself. They wouldn't let me go in to the embassy with her.

What binding ties can she show? Have you ever filled out one of those applications? They ask for very little personal information apart from identifying yourself. Her binding ties are her entire family, a job, she owns real property which she tried to offer. THe guy behind the window said they had the online submission and he didn't need any additional information. What else is there? A fortune in the bank? Do they have access to that information in the embassy? 

That is why I want to know, what are these officers trained to look for? There must be a check list of elements or factors they consider. What are they?

As your wife wanted to travel to the US from a developing country, and as she has a husband, children, and in-laws who are American citizens, it's a natural assumption on the INS part that she may try to stay after the visa is expired, 1/ to get out of her country; 2/ to be with her American family. 

Anytime an applicant is considered a potential illegal immigrant, the INS immediately rejects the applicant's visa application and redflags the case for all future requests.

It's normal that your wife had to enter the interview by herself.  Unless the applicant is a minor, his/her companion is not allowed in the embassy/consulate.  Even when the applicant is minor, only blood relative or legal appointee is allowed to be in the same interview room.  When my 10-year-old grandniece had the interview for US visa and her legal custodian (her grandmother), was ill, I, who's her great aunt, could not take her grandmother's place.   The interview had to be rescheduled.

How can you follow up? The officer denies and dismisses and that's that. THere is no appeal. They gave an explanation but it was generic, boilerplate form letter they give out on every denial. She had to enter the interview by herself. They wouldn't let me go in to the embassy with her.
[at][at][at]You have no business applying for a B2. So you were asked not to enter.
[at][at][at]First you post that she was not given a reason, now she received a form letter. The codes on this form letter explain the denial.

What binding ties can she show? Have you ever filled out one of those applications? They ask for very little personal information apart from identifying yourself. Her binding ties are her entire family, a job, she owns real property which she tried to offer. THe guy behind the window said they had the online submission and he didn't need any additional information. What else is there? A fortune in the bank? Do they have access to that information in the embassy? 
[at][at][at]Step across the fence please. You post yourself that your properties/investments/... is in the US. Basically your life once you are on a plane.
[at][at][at]You did not specify the time between her applications.

That is why I want to know, what are these officers trained to look for? There must be a check list of elements or factors they consider. What are they?
[at][at][at]Homeland Security does not generally post training guidelines.
[at][at][at]You might be surprised what is out there as so-called public knowledge.

I can only tell you what I personally would do and please note I am not legally trained but an expat. Request an interview with the US Consul as US citizen. Bring documentation!!!

First you post that she was not given a reason, now she received a form letter. The codes on this form letter explain the denial.

What I tried to explain is that the reason given was not specific to anything about her or her application, just a pre-printed pamphlet handed through the window saying basically that she did not overcome the presumption of non-immigrant intent, or something close to that. No specifics. I don't remember if they cited a code provision or not, but there was nothing useful in that paper to help us discern why her application was found wanting.

You might be surprised what is out there as so-called public knowledge.

Well, maybe I would be surprised but without knowing it doesn't help me much.

I am not asking for a training manual. I am asking if anyone here knows. If you don't know then just ignore the question. If anyone else does know please help me out.

So your advice is to request a meeting with the consul and try to plead her case?

To any readers of this thread, have you actually successfully done that? Ever even tried?

As your wife wanted to travel to the US from a developing country, and as she has a husband, children, and in-laws who are American citizens, it's a natural assumption on the INS part that she may try to stay after the visa is expired, 1/ to get out of her country; 2/ to be with her American family. 

Anytime an applicant is considered a potential illegal immigrant, the INS immediately rejects the applicant's visa application and redflags the case for all future requests.

It's normal that your wife had to enter the interview by herself. 


I am not saying I should have been allowed to enter. I think I could have helped but I understand the rules. That is not what this thread is about.

I perfectly understand the INS viewpoint and their presumptions. What I am looking for in this thread is useful information or strategy for overcoming all that and getting them to decide in our favor.

If her name is now red flagged, how can we overcome that too? What about her circumstances should we try to change to have a successful next try?

Does anyone have anything to offer on those things?

Thank you.

In order to get a visa need to be financially well...have business making go money

Getting a visa is only temporary stay there is a expire date if the person decide to stay in usa is breaking the law and immigration will denial future request and be deported

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