I'm an expat US citizen, working overseas at a foreign co. Before leaving US, I married my wife who successfully obtained a 2-yr conditional residence. Also, prior to leaving US, she obtained a reentry permit. So, it's been about a year since we came overseas.
In 3 months, we need to file a I-751 to remove condition from my wife's residency. We know this can be filed from overseas and she'll only need to travel back to the States for biometrics. Since her reentry permit will also run out, she'll need to travel back to US to file another I-131 for 2 more yrs.
Does my wife need to go back to US and file I-131 every 2 years? (And per the I-131 instruction, after 4 years, USCIS may only give 1 year thereafter) Or can she lapse and get SB-1 visa? She's only here because I'm here.
The general answer is that, if overseas for more than 1 year (or more than 2 years with reentry permit), the US residence is presumed abandoned. But in our case, as my spouse, my wife is overseas BECAUSE of me. She has no intention to live overseas long term. Nor do I... but this gig might run for another 2-3 years. Considering that family unification is a policy goal of the US immigration law, I was hoping for a less restrictive way to resolve our situation than, say, having my wife travel every 2 years back to the States to file I-131... and wait for time uncertain for it to be approved. (And I heard that having the reentry permit is not dispositive that she will not be stopped at the port of entry.) Thanks for your thoughts. - - - - - - - - - I am living and working abroad because I accepted a position at an international corporation (as an in-house, actually). She'd been in the States for approximately 10 years (mostly on F-1 and H-1b visas). We got married early last year.
You have some excellent questions but the answers are generated by information not contained in your fact pattern. The most critical issue is why you're living abroad and how much time she has spent in the U.S. These will drive the answers on filing the I-751, the filing and re-filing of the I-131, her ability to naturalize (and thus remove immigration entanglements) as well as tax issues and abandonment issues. Best to retain counsel and fully develop the facts so a carefully considered response will help direct you accordingly.
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I agree with Mr. Eichorn. Plus, she should be filing an N-470.
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