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I am a US citizen, my wife came to the United States on a K1 visa (fiancee visa). She has had her green card for 6 years now, so she is eligible to apply for citizenship. However, she does not yet feel "ready" to apply for citizenship. Her home country does not recognize dual citizenship, and by law, she would lose her birth citizenship by acquiring US citizenship. We have an American-born child.

I have a job opportunity in a foreign country, it would be a contract of 2 to 3 years. What is the best way to keep her resident status while abroad? We intend to return to the United States after the contract is over.

Reapplying to a K1 (or K3 as we are now married) visa would be unthinkable as we would not want to be separated for 6 months to a year, especially with a young baby.

We do not have assets (except for a bank account and a car) or an extended family in the US as I am myself a naturalized citizen.

Thank you for your help!

  • K1 is for fiances; your wife is not eligible for K1. K3 is obsolete. If you petition your spouse, she will get an IR1 immigrant visa directly. – user102008 May 7 at 17:50
  • Her home country is China and the opportunity is in Israel. – Schenectarianorip May 7 at 19:33
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    @Schenectarianorip Please edit the country information into the question. – DJClayworth May 8 at 14:06
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Spending three years overseas puts your wife's green card status at significant risk.

Read expatriates.stackexchange.com/questions/14486/ After only 180 days' absence from the US, your wife risks violating naturalization's "continuous residence" requirement, as well as creating possible difficulties in her returning to the US, and a referral to the Immigration Court where she risks a finding that she has abandoned her US residence. In these regards, longer stays may be even worse for her.

Before you commit to the new job and she commits to moving overseas with you, find and confer with an attorney in the US who is experienced in US immigration matters.

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  • Violating the continuous residence requirement wouldn't have a direct effect on PR status, however; it would just require her to postpone her naturalization until three years after her return. But it sounds like that may not be much of a problem for her, since she is not in a hurry to naturalize. – phoog May 9 at 20:14
  • As to naturalization, I agree. But if she spends much time overseas, she risks USCIS thinking (and acting on) the idea that she has abandoned her immigrant intent. Your comment of 2-21-18 in the thread cited in the answer supports this idea. Is that not now the case? Given what's at stake, I think legal consultation is a sensible step. – DavidSupportsMonica May 9 at 21:57
  • Thank you for your answer, it's very helpful. – Schenectarianorip May 12 at 4:48
  • You're welcome. I wish you both well with this. – DavidSupportsMonica May 12 at 17:55
  • @Schenectarianorip, David: no, I don't think anything has changed. But it is important to note that it is entirely possible to maintain LPR status indefinitely for decades while failing to meet the continuous residence requirement for naturalization (at least in theory). Also, some small points: the finding would be abandonment of residence (not of immigrant intent), and it has to be made by an immigration judge (or an Art. III judge) unless the LPR relinquishes the status voluntarily. CBP (not USCIS) may refer someone to the IJ on entry, but they can't make the decision by themselves. – phoog May 20 at 18:35

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