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Aguyandhiswife

I-751: Filed living apart, rec'd RFE, our latest response

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Hi All:

New here but wanted to provide some data points on a pending I-751 for my wife and I.

She's from China and we got married in January 2014 in NJ.

Due to personal circumstances (work, school), we were living apart for a good portion of 2015. I knew this would raise red flags when it came time for us to file I-751 in early 2016.

In my initial March 2016 submission, I included:

  • Copy of 2 latest joint tax transcripts (Married Filing Joint)
  • Auto Insurance with both listed
  • Bank Statements with both listed (but we generally keep accounts separate)
  • Two notarized affidavits from friends and family
  • A selection of photographs with captions, showing vacations, us with family, etc
  • A statement explaining why we lived apart and that we planned to live together once finished with school
  • Copies of numerous airline tickets showing monthly trips to visit each other

While I know the information was weak, and living apart would definitely cause concern, it was all we thought we had to submit at the time.

As expected, we recently received an RFE stating that the information does not establish a bona fide marriage. Some of the concerns were lack of active joint financial accounts.

We've recently responded with everything we possibly have and are hoping for the best.

Our December 2016 RFE response includes:

  • A statement from me, the US Citizen, explaining the circumstances why we lived apart, and that we now live together and have been for the past 6 months.
  • Copy of driver's licenses from the same state showing the same address
  • Copy of joint residential lease
  • My University transcript showing my graduation date and a USPS change-of-address confirmation that coincides with moving to be with my wife immediately after.
  • Three additional notarized letters of support from immediate family members
  • Additional photographs of our life together, including life events and with family
  • Copies of travel itineraries showing trips together
  • Copies of current joint Auto and Renters Insurance
  • Current joint cell-phone statements
  • Complete bank statements from 2 of our jointly held accounts
  • Copies of bank transfers showing we shared our living expenses
  • Complete transcript of our iMessage history dating back 2 years (this is 1,800 pages alone)

I'm a bit nervous now as I hope this will be enough, since it doesn't directly satisfy their initial concern regarding joint finances. I think it's reasonable for younger couples to keep separate accounts of their own, yet share their living expenses.

I organized this beautiful in separate binders, as it was a lot of information to send, but felt it was necessary based on the previous circumstances.

I also reached out to a few immigration attorneys to see if they could step in to offer guidance to assist, but I generally felt they had a poor grasp on family-based immigration and I'd be harming myself trusting their input.

I'll keep you all posted, but general thoughts are welcome.

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Welcome to the forum.

Did you consider obtaining wills, DPOAs, living wills for the two of you? Many people that come up short with marriage bonafide evidence, include copies of those kinds of documents. They are good example of marriage bonafide evidence to obtain now, and for your future life together.

Putting your evidence and sending in your information in beautiful separate binders is unnecessary. USCIS will likely deconstruct your binders, discard them, and organize the evidence as they deem necessary. Here are some general tips on assembling applications for mailing to USCIS: https://www.uscis.gov/forms/forms-and-fees/general-tips-assembling-applications-mailing

Good luck on your immigration journey.

Edited by Pitaya

Completed: K1/K2 (271 days) - AOS/EAD/AP (134 days) - ROC (279 days)

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40 minutes ago, kaushalpar said:

Hi aguya,

I'm in a similar boat. Can you tell me what happened since your rfe response and a brief timeline of the events? Thanks

Kaushal

 

Yes -

 

So after sending in a boatload of RFE documents, we received a notice that we were scheduled for an interview. This took about a year to schedule, in which time my wife's temporary GC expired, so she had to rely on getting multiple I-551 stamps in her passport to serve as her GC. 

 

Regardless, we both showed up to the interview in Seattle. Took about 30 minutes to be called into an office and all of the documents that we sent in were on the agent's desk. In addition to the primary agent in the room, the agent that assisted my wife getting her I-551 stamp both times was there was well. In addition to the documents listed in this thread, we brought additional pictures and tax transcripts.

 

The interview was mostly informal after swearing in, and consisted about asking us about our living situation and why we lived apart. I was asked if I was happy with the situation and I candidly replied "no, because we have to fly back and forth all the time, it sucks". They seemed satisfied with that. A couple questions that were asked:

 

-Why my wife moved for a job and I didn't follow (Because she plans to come back to where I live)

-Do I leave anything at her apartment? (Yes, clothes)

-Asked my wife what my phone number is ('no idea, we all use favorites now')

 

That's pretty much it. There was no indication at the end of the interview that we 'passed', and we were told to keep an eye out for any letters that may come our way. A week later we got the automated approval notice and that my wife's 10 yr GC was in the mail.

 

Total time from RFE to 10yr GC: 14 months?

 

The whole process sucked, but I do believe that being totally honest helped, even if it made no sense.

 

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Thank you so much for your prompt reply! Did you guys change your or her address after filing initial i751? And if you did, what steps did you take to inform uscis and make sure all mail and notifications are handled appropriately? Also, did they change your jurisdiction office? 

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11 hours ago, kaushalpar said:

Thank you so much for your prompt reply! Did you guys change your or her address after filing initial i751? And if you did, what steps did you take to inform uscis and make sure all mail and notifications are handled appropriately? Also, did they change your jurisdiction office? 

Yes, she changed her address after sending in the RFE documents. The office changed from San Jose, CA to Seattle, WA during that time which may have contributed to the delay in actually getting an interview. We just filled out the change-of-address form online.

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12 hours ago, Aguyandhiswife said:

Total time from RFE to 10yr GC: 14 months?

It took 14months?!?!

 

How long did it take them to schedule an interview after you responded to the RFE? I just sent my RFE response and within a week they sent an update saying they received our response and told us to sit and wait for a response. 

 

I am shocked that it would take another year to get approved?!?!? I was planning on submitting my N-400 in a couple of months but now I am not sure if that is a good idea.

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2 minutes ago, dp1987 said:

It took 14months?!?!

 

How long did it take them to schedule an interview after you responded to the RFE? I just sent my RFE response and within a week they sent an update saying they received our response and told us to sit and wait for a response. 

 

I am shocked that it would take another year to get approved?!?!? I was planning on submitting my N-400 in a couple of months but now I am not sure if that is a good idea.

Yes, but we were apparently in line for an interview and we changed our address (and jurisdiction) during that time. The hard part was that after we sent our RFE package in Dec 2016, we didn't hear anything or get an interview letter until Sept 2017. So lots of waiting with an expired GC during that time.

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1 minute ago, Aguyandhiswife said:

Yes, but we were apparently in line for an interview and we changed our address (and jurisdiction) during that time. The hard part was that after we sent our RFE package in Dec 2016, we didn't hear anything or get an interview letter until Sept 2017. So lots of waiting with an expired GC during that time.

I notice you are CSC while I am VSC which is faster so I wonder if I might not have to wait that long? *fingers crossed*

 

Did they acknowledge when they received your RFE response? The fact that they acknowledged my response within a week is making me more hopeful that I will receive an update sooner...

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, dp1987 said:

I notice you are CSC while I am VSC which is faster so I wonder if I might not have to wait that long? *fingers crossed*

 

Did they acknowledge when they received your RFE response? The fact that they acknowledged my response within a week is making me more hopeful that I will receive an update sooner...

 

The online system was never updated that they received a response, but we called multiple times to have our status researched and they acknowledged they received our package and we were likely waiting for an interview (although they couldn't confirm that). 

 

It truly was a pain

 

Edit: We initially filed the I-751 with the VSC (living in NJ), then wife moved to CA (RFE came from San Jose, CA office), then while waiting for an interview, moved to Seattle (Seattle Field office)...so we did the whole circuit..

Edited by Aguyandhiswife

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Posted (edited)

I just realized I left out a crucial part of information -

 

March 2016 - I-751 submission while living apart, stating main reason that we were doing everything possible to move back in together - wife in CA, me in NJ - filed at CSC

June 2016 - Change of Address while waiting for response, we both now live in CA. Case transferred to San Jose, CA field office.

Sept 2016 - RFE received; initial evidence submitted does not establish bonafide relationship

Dec 2016 - RFE replied with documents showing additional bona fide ties, lease showing we live together, etc. 

Feb 2017 - Wife moves to WA for work. I stay in CA. 

May 2017 - Temporary GC expires. Wife has to go get I-551 stamp in Seattle.

June 2017 - Change of Address to WA while waiting for RFE response. Case transferred to Seattle, WA field office. (totally forgot to do this sooner)

 

***At this point while waiting for an I-751 Interview, USCIS doesn't know that we live apart again (and still do)***

 

August 2017 - I-551 Stamp about to expire, wife goes in for second stamp. Officer mentions we missed our I-751 interview but we didn't receive any letter (probably due to so many change of addresses..)

Sept 2017 - I-751 Interview letter received, interview within 2 weeks

Sept 2017 - Interview at Seattle Field office. I fly up to attend. Officer seems less-than-thrilled we don't live together again, but is satisfied in the end somehow.

Oct 2017 - 10yr GC received

Oct 2017 - Applied for Citizenship

Nov 2017 - N400 biometrics

Dec 2017 - In line for an N-400 interview letter

Today - Still waiting...probably 6 months to go. Seattle is backed up.

 

 

 

Edited by Aguyandhiswife

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@Aguyandhiswife, thank you so much for your detailed timeline. You mentioned that your wife filed i751 after she moved to CA. So, was it sent to CSC or VSC? I will be living in Minnesota and my wife will be in NY. I am confused whether I should send to CSC (MN apps are supposed to go to CA) or VSC

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8 hours ago, kaushalpar said:

@Aguyandhiswife, thank you so much for your detailed timeline. You mentioned that your wife filed i751 after she moved to CA. So, was it sent to CSC or VSC? I will be living in Minnesota and my wife will be in NY. I am confused whether I should send to CSC (MN apps are supposed to go to CA) or VSC

We had a hard time finding information on this; what to do if you live in states with different service centers. Turns out you're supposed to file in the state of the beneficiary, so in your case that would be the VSC

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