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My British mother wants to stay with my sister in Florida for about a year. How can she do this? She doesn't want to become a resident and has a home in the UK. She has been over to the US with an ESTA but they only last 3 months.

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    where is it that she wants to come and stay? She is a resident of the uk, but of where is she a citizen? – Kate Gregory Apr 16 at 16:07
  • By the time you've spent a whole year in a country, that country may well say that you're resident whether you want it or not. For example, staying more than half the year in the UK makes you resident for tax purposes. – David Richerby Apr 16 at 16:29
  • OK, now that the question has been clarified, I think this kind of long-term visit is off-topic here and should be asked on Expatriates instead. Note that even a B1/B2 visa to the US only allows a 6-month visit so, even though your mother doesn't want to use the word "resident", it seems that this is what she is trying to be. – David Richerby Apr 17 at 14:20
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    @DavidRicherby "a B1/B2 visa to the US only allows a 6-month visit": that is a widely held misconception. B-status visitors can be admitted for up to 1 year. See e.g. 9 FAM 402.2-4(B)(5). Also, yes, being in the US for a year (183 days or more, actually, and even in some cases for less than that) does make you a resident for tax purposes, but that is a different purpose from immigration, has no effect on immigration status, and happens automatically without requiring any special application or the like. – phoog Apr 17 at 14:26
  • Thanks for your input, looks like a green card is in order. So does my mum need to go to the US on a 6 month visa then get my sister to apply for a green card based on family connections while she is there? – Sue Winter Apr 18 at 16:59
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Based on the question and comments here are the two options that are fitting for the case:

Option A) If the intent is just to visit for 1 year she must apply for a B1/B2 visa in order to stay for that period of time. It is the Border Officer discretion to determine how long you can stay. Generally, they stamp for 6 months. More or less time may be given according to the circumstances when you are at the Point of Entry. It is always possible to leave the US (to Canada or Mexico for example) and come back again in order to get more months.

Option B) If the intent is to PERMANENTLY STAY in the US (i.e. work, live and pay taxes here) then she must apply for a green card. She's a Immediate Relative of a USC, therefore, eligible for a green card right way. Your sister will apply for a i-130 (petition for alien relative) and, once approved, your mother will apply for a IR-5 visa in the UK. The whole process usually takes around 9 months. After 4 years and 9 months your mother will be eligible to apply for US citizenship.

It is important to note that if she becomes a green card holder she cannot leave the US with the intent to establish residency in another country. If so, she will loose her green card. Only after becoming a USC that she would be able to return to the UK to live there (there are exemptions to this rule).

In regards to taxes for either option, that's a different story with several different factors.

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