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jamesuk113

Does this count as separation?

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Let me preface by saying we are not / have never been separated or had any kind of marital difficulties worth considering separation.

 

We were living with my wife's parents (hereafter, 'home') to save money and then my wife got a new job in Fresno about 80 miles away. Rather than us both move there (~$1200 / month) she just rented a single bedroom in a house with one other elderly female resident ($500 / month).

 

She would come home often and spend most of her free time with me, but my question is - does this count as separation in the eyes of an Immigration Officer?

 

Detail:

  • My wife would work 7 days on and 7 days off, travelling back home to be with me on the off days. (On the first day she would arrive at work from home, and the last day leave work and come straight home),
  • I would spend 100% of the time at home, she would spend 50% at home,
  • I was only allowed to visit her but not move in (female-only house),
  • This arrangement continued for 8.5 months,
  • We only planned to do this for a few months so set up a monthly rental agreement, but I've really struggled to find work Fresno,
  • Throughout the whole time, everything remained joint and registered to home (two credit cards, car insurance, car titles, health insurance), she also kept all her stuff at home (only took a travel bag for the week) and our pets,
  • I was working from home during this time, so we were not forced to have this arrangement. We chose to because we are very aggressively saving for a deposit,
  • We couldn't stand being apart anymore, so moved to our current address where we have been living together for 6 weeks,
  • Our marriage is and always has been rock solid.

 

Red flags:

  • Only my wife was employed, so why didn't we spend a little more and get an apartment together in Fresno? (over $4,000 saved towards a deposit would be my answer).

 

Mitigating circumstances:

  • If separated, why would I live with my spouse's parents, and she move away?
  • 50% of nights spent together at home, ~100% of "free-time" spent together (time when she was not working or sleeping).

 

CFR §319.1   Persons living in marital union with United States citizen spouse. Section (C) on "Involuntary separation"

An Immigration Officer may have to resort to this clause to recommend my application, but what is commonly understood as "Involuntary"? If not leaving a job that moves you to another state is "involuntary" then is spending 50% of time apart "involuntary" if it's the only way to achieve a long and sincerely held common goal of saving for a deposit?

 

Other information

  • I have adverse travel history. Over the past 3 years, I have spent 375 total days outside the U.S. (for finishing my PhD which I started abroad before marriage). I have not broken the continuous residence or physical presence requirements, but I worry about the picture this paints having spent just over a third of my marriage away from my wife. I posted about this here, and received mostly positive answers.
  • A refusal would be a pain for my career ambitions (defense), but a finding of poor moral character (e.g. trying to conceal this) would be catastrophic. The online form does not ask for this information , but I feel compelled to declare it. I would infinitely rather get refused until 5 years than barred permanently.

 

I think I will file and declare regardless of the feedback here, but I would really appreciate others opinions on the challenges this might create. Thanks to everyone that made it through the wall of text!

 

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Following this as I am also a weekly commuter - Monday - Thursday spent in Seattle in a spare room in someone’s house but I live 150 miles away. I leave home early every Monday morning and go back Thursday or Friday midday. To my mind it’s no different from being a trucker or a pilot. My driver’s license is registered to my home address, not the place I stay in Seattle. It’s also a temporary arrangement for a few months until my home set-up is complete and then I will be working remotely from home 100% of the time. I don’t actually have a lease here. Did your wife have a lease in Fresno?


 

 

 

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Hi JFH, thanks for the quick reply!

 

Yes she did have a month to month lease but it was a very informal arrangement (the landlord didn't even cash the deposit check).

 

Despite the lease, she never received any mail at the address. I doubt there is any official record of her ever having been there.

 

I hope the few months passes quick! Living apart sucks!

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We also did it for financial reasons, by the way. We bought a house in our dream location (by the beach) for a fraction of the price that a similar sized property in the Seattle area would cost. And we didn’t want to live in Seattle. It’s just unfortunate that my employer is based there. It’s going to be our forever home and we will retire there. 


 

 

 

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Hi JFH congrats on the house purchase! I'm very jealous. Hopefully this year, we'll see. I would just love to get this citizenship secured so I can start working in my target career. (I do FE simulation so everything requires citizenship).

 

Financial reasons is underrated with regards to "involuntary", sure we can blow our deposit on living together every second, but what quality of life if we've put off kids and everything else for short term gain? My wife and I have made huge sacrifices for our mutual goals and I hope that's appreciated at interview. Everything I do is for her even if it means spending time apart (which I hate). 

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You may have lived separately part time but you were not separated.  Separated means you split up and were no longer a couple. Many people do this before divorcing and it can be a requirement in many states to be separated for a period of time before divorce. 

I would simply explain the situation and why it was a joint decision financially at that time.  It's not a deal breaker. 


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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Hi NikLR,

 

Thanks very much for the clarification and advise. In the context of your answer, hopefully the fact we are now fully living together and have increased joint liabilities over the last month with a new joint lease and utilities should help (going the the right direction).

 

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Thats a positive for sure.  I dont see an issue with your case tbh.  People still living apart successfully roc without RFE


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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Thanks for everyone's advice! I will be up front with this information as I planned, and prepare robust answers and evidence to any questions I can anticipate.

 

The interview won't be for while, but I will report back when the time comes.

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