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August 2, 2010 2:08 PM   Subscribe

What's the easiest way for my husband and I to visit my family in the US?

I am a US citizen. My husband is a Pakistani citizen. We are currently residents of the UAE.

My mother and siblings live in the US. For now, my husband and I have no intention of settling in the US. We do, however, want to visit on a reasonably regular basis.

From my preliminary research, it seems that I can't actually sponsor him for immigration unless I'm residing in the US, but that there's a real possibility INS could regard him as an overstay risk if he applies for a visitor visa. Are either of these impressions inaccurate?

So what do you do when you're an American citizen residing abroad, and want to take your non-citizen spouse on a visit home?
posted by bardophile to Law & Government (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You should talk to the US embassy/consultate nearest you. They would get you whatever you need.

Where were you married? Did you register that record of marriage in a us court? Do you do us taxes...do you write single/married/filing jointly?
posted by hal_c_on at 2:39 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

My situation isn't as complicated as yours but I do have a non US spouse. hal c on has great advice aboud speaking with the nearest consulate/embassy. Beware: some of them are not that willing to give you/him an appointment unless you know what you're going there to do.

Check the website of the local consulate to see what services they offer, and you can email them asking for advice for what kind of appointment to make. (CAUTION: You will get different answers to that question from different embassy employees - it's like calling the DMV, you get a different answer every.single.time.)

Also, I think it's not true that you cannot sponsor him outside the US. (This may depend on his nationality but I am fairly (95%) certain that I could have sponsored my husband from outside the US in our ex-pat country of residence.) I would definitely put that question on a list of questions though for your in person appointment at the embassy/consulate.
posted by kirstk at 2:53 PM on August 2, 2010

I would definitely put that question on a list of questions though for your in person appointment at the embassy/consulate.

I would not bring this up, nor anything else that suggests that you're considering thinking about possibly looking into taking him to the US.

I haven't had to deal with this, but AFAIK the short answer is that you'll need to establish firm intent to return to the UAE. Lease or mortgage papers, letter from his employer stating that he's expected back on such-and-such a date, that sort of thing.

If you talk to the consulate ahead of time, I'd just ask what evidence of his intent to return they would like to see.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:01 PM on August 2, 2010

Yes, you can sponsor him for a green card from the UAE. Unless they've recently changed their policies, it looks like it's even one of the easier ways -- direct consular filing through Abu Dhabi.


If you're living in the US, you'll run the risk of him being seen/judged to have abandoned his residency. This would mean starting over, and it would mean that he would be in their system as having had a green card, which might make visitors visas trickier.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:08 PM on August 2, 2010


If you're living in the UAE, you'll run the risk...
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:10 PM on August 2, 2010

We were married in Pakistan, and while the marriage was not registered in a US court, a copy of the certificate was submitted to the USCIS in connection with registering my son's birth in Pakistan.

I don't really want to talk to the consulate about this, for the reasons ROU_Xenophobe mentions.

But ROU_Xenophobe, do you mean "If you're NOT living in the US?" Our current situation, which I expect to continue for the foreseeable future, is that we reside, as a family, outside the US.

Given that this is the case, would it be safer to apply for a greencard or a visitor visa? Or is there really no way to tell?
posted by bardophile at 3:18 PM on August 2, 2010

ah you must have been typing as i was writing out my reply...doh...must remember to preview.
posted by bardophile at 3:21 PM on August 2, 2010

bardophile, if the intent is a visit, then apply for a visitor visa. If the intent is for him to become a legal alien resident, apply for a greencard.
posted by kirstk at 3:32 PM on August 2, 2010

Yeah, I don't think many people are understanding the question.

I live abroad too and my wife is an EU citizen. We were married outside of the US. Whenever we visit my family, she visits on a tourist visa.

I've researched this a bit and there is no "Special Visa for family member of an American Citizen visiting from abroad" that is not dependent on you/me living in the US at the time. My wife has no status with the United States and she never will unless we both decide to move to the US and we work on immigration procedures.

I'd be happy to hear different but I believe that your husband, like my wife, is a visitor. That said, my wife is from a visa waiver country so it is a bit easier. For your husband, as ROU_Xenophobe says, you apply for a visitor visa and show proof that you both intend to return to the UAE.
posted by vacapinta at 2:16 AM on August 3, 2010

For him to visit the US, he'll need to get a regular tourist visa. You can't apply for a green card for your husband unless you're living in the US (thus the official name "Permanent Resident Card"). Which, yeah, really sucks. It's the reason why my Indian-citizen spouse is planning on getting US citizenship - that way, if we move OUT of the US, he'll be able to easily visit or return to living in the US later on.

For confirmation or visa interview tips, you might try checking with the blogger at Lucky Fatima - she's an American citizen married to a Pakistani who just recently moved from a gulf state back to the US.
posted by Gori Girl at 2:56 PM on August 3, 2010

You can't apply for a green card for your husband unless you're living in the US (thus the official name "Permanent Resident Card")

This is false. You can apply for a green card from (almost?) any country in the world where the US citizen is living. If anything, applying outside the US is often easier than applying from within the US, as direct consular filing (available in some countries at the discretion of the US embassy there) is faster and easier than filing in the US.

In countries without DCF it's usually faster to file a K1 and then marry and adjust status in the US, so you'll often see couples doing that to avoid the multi-year wait for the green card paperwork to clear.

But the OP still doesn't want to.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:19 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have a feeling my question sounds more stupid than it is.

The only reason I have right now to want to apply for a green card for my husband is so that he can come and go from the US without having to apply for a visa every time (unless they grant him a multiple entry visit visa, of course. But I'm skeptical about the likelihood of that happening, given that he is a Pakistani male who falls within the 25-60 yr old range).

I believe I can begin the green card process while we are both living abroad, but it appears to me that when it is time to submit the affidavit of support and such, I would have to show that I am earning sufficient money, in the US, and am residing in the US.

I know that visa officers can be tremendously capricious, and was really wondering whether Mefites have personal experience of similar situations and how they have dealt with them.

Thanks for all the answers so far. It sounds to me like what makes the most sense right now is to apply for the tourist visa and hope for the best.
posted by bardophile at 2:14 PM on August 4, 2010

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