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spiritof1776

After receiving the CR-1 visa, can I enter the US without my USC spouse?

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This seems like a silly question, so first a little background:

  1. My USC spouse and I currently live in Germany
  2. She submitted the I-130 via DCF, I am now invited to interview (not yet scheduled)
  3. We are not yet 100% certain whether we will move back to the US at the end of June or in November. (Not very flexible since my wife is pregnant, and the decision depends on some things beyond our control such as a professional opportunity currently under negotiation.)
  4. I have a business trip coming up to the US in early June.

We'd like to get the whole visa process out of the way as soon as possible to make life easier. It's therefore tempting to schedule the appointment for (at least a week) before my June trip, get the CR-1 visa, enter the US using that visa on the June trip, and not have to worry about anything expiring. (If I got the medical/visa in late May but then didn't use it for entry to the US on the early June trip, the visa would expire in late November, which might cause us problems later on if we wanted to move to the US at the end of November.) Is that allowed, or does the USC spouse have to travel with the immigrant on first entry?

The alternative, I suppose, is to enter the US on my existing (but soon to expire, effectively) F-1 visa (or alternatively, using VWP) on the early June trip, and to delay scheduling the medical and visa interview until we know our situation for certain. That should be fine, but leaves us little time to decide, since if we for example decided in late May that we wanted to move to the US at the end of June, it might be too late to schedule medical and visa interview appointments in time (especially given I will be away from Germany for 10 days in June).

Edited by spiritof1776

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As a cr-1(edit- or ir-1) holder, you must arrive at the same time or after your wife.

It's one of the conditions on the I-864. That the sponsor will be in the U.S. already or coming in at the same time.

Edited by bendinlar

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As a cr-1(edit- or ir-1) holder, you must arrive at the same time or after your wife.

It's one of the conditions on the I-864. That the sponsor will be in the U.S. already or coming in at the same time.

Thanks, I wondered whether that might be the case. Oh well, the juggling goes on…!

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And, unless you are currently enrolled in school in the US and/or on OPT, you should not try to enter using the F1 student visa. That would be viewed as fraud, since you would be telling the immigration officer you were seeking entry to continue your studies. (Besides, do you have a current, valid I-20?)

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And, unless you are currently enrolled in school in the US and/or on OPT, you should not try to enter using the F1 student visa. That would be viewed as fraud, since you would be telling the immigration officer you were seeking entry to continue your studies. (Besides, do you have a current, valid I-20?)

Sorry if that wasn't clear—yes, I am on OPT until late June. I have an I-20 (though the last time I got it signed was in early November 2014, so to stay within the six-month limit I might have to get it re-signed).

In any case, our plans have now moved on a little and my spouse and I are reasonably confident we want to move to the U.S. together on June 25 (in time to attend a wedding). So, my previous concern about the CR-1 visa potentially expiring has now given way to a new concern. The work trip is still taking place, meaning I will be away from Germany (and need my passport) from approx. 5 June to 15 June. This makes planning to have my visa interview on 17 June in the hope of getting the visa issued and my passport returned to me by 24 June aggressive. (The Frankfurt consulate's website says "within 10 working days".)

So, what would be nice would be to get the CR-1 visa issued ahead of my business trip. However, will it be possible to do the business trip, transiting via the U.S., without invalidating the visa? One clarification about the trip. It is now solely to Guatemala. Given we will be back in the U.S. so soon again afterwards, the U.S. component I mentioned originally is no longer necessary. However, many of the flights (I've not yet booked tickets) go via the U.S., and I'd therefore need to clear CBP. If I could do that using VWP (or F-1) without invalidating the CR-1 visa, that would be one option. Alternatively, I could just avoid all routes via the U.S. and go via Mexico or Panama instead. That feels like the safer option. What do you think?

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How can you be in OPT status if you are living outside the US? You usually cannot be meeting the OPT status while living in Germany. I wouldn't test it by trying to use the F-1 visa....just my opinion.

Once the CR-1 is issued, your immigrant intent is VERY clear and you stand a good chance of being denied entry into the US under the visa waiver, even if your ESTA is approved.

So -- again, my opinion -- get the CR-1 as soon as you can and take the business trip without transiting the US. Or, take the business trip, transit the US with time to go through the immigration process. You can leave the US immediately after, using the I-551 stamp in your passport to reenter the US as the premanent resident that you then are with you wife later in June.

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First, thanks for the advice!

How can you be in OPT status if you are living outside the US? You usually cannot be meeting the OPT status while living in Germany. I wouldn't test it by trying to use the F-1 visa....just my opinion.

I'm working for a US company remotely. I've been back to the US twice since moving to Germany in August 2014 (once with an I-20 signature slightly older than six months) and both times have been admitted in F-1 status without any problems, so in that sense it's already tried and tested. (Could be different at a different POE, or just with a different agent, of course.)

So -- again, my opinion -- get the CR-1 as soon as you can and take the business trip without transiting the US.

Yep, seems like the smartest option (even if it means an extra change of planes).

Or, take the business trip, transit the US with time to go through the immigration process. You can leave the US immediately after, using the I-551 stamp in your passport to reenter the US as the premanent resident that you then are with you wife later in June.

Interesting. Bendinlar (above) seemed to suggest that wouldn't be an option, since my wife (and sponsor/I-864 signatory) needs to enter before, or simultaneously with, me. Is that not the case?

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First, thanks for the advice!

I'm working for a US company remotely. I've been back to the US twice since moving to Germany in August 2014 (once with an I-20 signature slightly older than six months) and both times have been admitted in F-1 status without any problems, so in that sense it's already tried and tested. (Could be different at a different POE, or just with a different agent, of course.)

Yep, seems like the smartest option (even if it means an extra change of planes).

Interesting. Bendinlar (above) seemed to suggest that wouldn't be an option, since my wife (and sponsor/I-864 signatory) needs to enter before, or simultaneously with, me. Is that not the case?

Sorry -- my bad. I somehow thought your wife was traveling on the business trip with you. She must either be in the US when you arrive or arrive with you, as Bendinlar said.

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