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IR-1/CR-1 Process Questions - US/Canadian couple living in Senegal

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Hi everyone,

My wife and I are just about to get started on the IR-1/CR-1 visa process, however our situation is a little unusual and we were hoping to get some advice...

We are both currently living in Senegal - my wife (US citizen) is in the Peace Corps, and will finish her service in June/July, while I (Canadian citizen) have been working here as a teacher. We met while at university in the US shortly before my wife started her Peace Corps service, and we got married a year ago here in Senegal. We are hoping to move back to the US when we leave Senegal, with me on an IR-1 visa. To do this though, we need to go through the application process while still in Senegal.

After looking through all the guides here and on the USCIS website, we have a few questions about how this might work with our situation. Since we are both living overseas, at first I thought we would be able to file via Direct Consulate Filing. The USCIS office covering Senegal is in Accra, Ghana, however the information about that office states they only process I-130s for residents of Ghana. The US Embassy in Dakar doesn't mention anything about Direct Consular filing on their website, and after emailing them they said I would need to file at the Chicago lockbox. How will this work if the petitioner (my wife) isn't living in the US?

Assuming that DCF won't work for us and we have to go the normal route, I'm a little concerned about the timeline. If I start the process while living in Senegal, then my interview (I presume) would be at the US Embassy in Dakar. Since we are leaving Senegal sometime in June, what will happen if I haven't had my interview yet? Would it be possible to move the interview to somewhere in the US or Canada (and is that going to mean a huge delay)? Or could I return with my wife on a visitor visa then apply for AOS (my understanding is that would be visa fraud, however I have heard of people doing it...)? Help! I would really like to be able to start a teaching job in the US next fall after we return.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Aaron

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Because you are both abroad, chances of an unofficial auto-expedite are good. Which means your USCIS processing time would be a 1-2 months instead of what it would be if you were living in separately to start with which is 4-8. I suggest starting the process ASAP however to get the ball rolling.

You cannot DCF. Your wife must send the I-130 to the Chicago lockbox. Just follow the normal IR1/CR1 spousal visa guide here on VJ.

The two things you will need to think about after sending off the I-130 is sponsorship and domicile. The USC must be making the poverty guidelines (I-864p) for your family size (only income that will continue after immigration will count), have 3x the assets to cover the difference, or have a person willing to joint sponsor you to come to the USA. In addition to that they must prove intent to reestablish domicile in the USA. Basically they have to show they have made an effort to move back again because the point of the visa is to reconcile families in the USA. I wouldn't worry about this at this point in time, get the I-130 sent off and then start reading up on the next stage. The sponsorship issue is a real one though and may require some thought.

You are correct that intent to immigrate on a non-immigrant visa is visa fraud. If you told the truth to the CBP upon entry they would turn you away and lying is illegal. Of course people do it, illegally of course. Because it's illegal it's against TOS to even even discuss the possibility unless you are already in the USA or have a dual intent visa.


You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  - Dr. Seuss

 

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Because you are both abroad, chances of an unofficial auto-expedite are good. Which means your USCIS processing time would be a 1-2 months instead of what it would be if you were living in separately to start with which is 4-8. I suggest starting the process ASAP however to get the ball rolling.

You cannot DCF. Your wife must send the I-130 to the Chicago lockbox. Just follow the normal IR1/CR1 spousal visa guide here on VJ.

The two things you will need to think about after sending off the I-130 is sponsorship and domicile. The USC must be making the poverty guidelines (I-864p) for your family size (only income that will continue after immigration will count), have 3x the assets to cover the difference, or have a person willing to joint sponsor you to come to the USA. In addition to that they must prove intent to reestablish domicile in the USA. Basically they have to show they have made an effort to move back again because the point of the visa is to reconcile families in the USA. I wouldn't worry about this at this point in time, get the I-130 sent off and then start reading up on the next stage. The sponsorship issue is a real one though and may require some thought.

You are correct that intent to immigrate on a non-immigrant visa is visa fraud. If you told the truth to the CBP upon entry they would turn you away and lying is illegal. Of course people do it, illegally of course. Because it's illegal it's against TOS to even even discuss the possibility unless you are already in the USA or have a dual intent visa.

Thanks for the info! You mention an "unofficial auto-expedite" - what exactly does this mean? I haven't heard this mentioned anywhere before.

The sponsorship and domicile shouldn't be a problem for us. We will need a joint sponsor, since my wife will be changing jobs when she moves back (plus the Peace Corps stipend is no where near US poverty guidelines) but I have a couple of friends in mind that I think would be willing to sponsor us. For the domicile requirement, my wife has to move back to Seattle to finish her degree at University of Washington - she is in a special Master's degree program that combines Peace Corps service with a Master's in Natural Resource Management - so that should help prove she (and I) will be moving back when we leave Senegal.

Sorry for bringing up the visitor visa question!

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She needs things like a lease, us bank account(s), drivers license, voter registration, job or job offer, proof of school enrollment, etc. Just one item doesn't prove much but together they make a more compelling case.

Search on the board for filing from abroad and auto-expedite.


You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  - Dr. Seuss

 

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OK, she has US bank accounts, school loans, ongoing enrollment at University of Washington, and a WA drivers license. Hopefully compelling enough to establish domicile status.

Seems like there is a bunch of information on the auto-expediting process. Thanks!!!

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