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Hi folks. I'm new here. /wave

I have a question regarding US visas. The situation is this:

My wife is an Australian citizen, and I am a US citizen. We have been legally married and living in Australia for 11 years. Every year I go back to America to visit family; sometimes she comes with me (on the normal tourist visa / visa waiver program). Well,

My father is elderly, has Alzheimer's, and is declining rapidly. We would like to move to America and live there for 2 years, in order to help my mom out and say goodbye to my dad. After that, we would return to Australia; we have no intention to reside in the US permanently. Australia is our home; we have 3 kids and all our property here. So... we'd be in the US for 2 years, no more.

I've been on the phone with the US Consulate in Sydney, and they are about as vague and unhelpful as most consulates around the world are. I was told contradictory information. It *seems*, according to the cso I talked to, that my wife's choices are a) apply for a spousal visa, which basically means apply for permanent residency -- a very long process, I know, and a route we don't want to take, given that she has no intention whatsoever to immigrate; b) somehow secure her a job in the US and have a company invite her over to work so that she can apply for a work visa, but my income will be enough to support us both, so while her working might be nice, it wouldn't be necessary and I have serious doubts about whether she could find a job and get a work visa anyway (but I could be wrong); or c) apply for something called a B1/B2 visa, and travel to the US under the B2 category (for pleasure / visiting family) -- BUT, the person on the phone told me that even if she is granted the B1/B2 visa, the actual decision on the length of time she is allowed to stay in the US would be determined by the *customs & border protection officer* (the guard who stamps your passport at the airport when you enter the US), and that there are no guarantees.

So it sounds like, what that would mean is, we might go through the long process and expense of getting the B1/B2 visa, pay to put all our stuff in storage, etc etc, then fly across the Pacific only to find that she's only allowed to stay a month or a few months instead of the 2 years we are planning. Also, the person on the phone could not answer my questions about visits back to Australia (whether my wife would be let back into the US if she were to fly back here for, say, Christmas or something to visit the kids). Another thing is, I read somewhere that B2 visas are generally only granted for a maximum stay of 6 months. But then somewhere else I read that some people are given 10-year multiple entry visitor (B2) visas, but that you can't just leave the US and come right back without appearing suspicious (I am guessing that advice was for people intending on working illegally or something... which my wife is not).

My question: Do any of you have experience with this sort of situation? Any of you have an Australian spouse and experience with getting her over to the US for a long-term (like, a year or two) visit?

Thank you so much in advance for your advice!

Sincerely,
Gaines
 

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Hi Gaines,

A dependent visa is the only option where your spouse can stay for 2 years. If you are going for the visitor visa route, a long term stay cannot be guaranteed, but a 1 year stay is a possibility where your initial entry will be given for 6 months, and you ask for a 6 month extension on top of that (strictly subject to approval).
 

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Hi folks. I'm new here. /wave

I have a question regarding US visas. The situation is this:

My wife is an Australian citizen, and I am a US citizen. We have been legally married and living in Australia for 11 years. Every year I go back to America to visit family; sometimes she comes with me (on the normal tourist visa / visa waiver program). Well,

My father is elderly, has Alzheimer's, and is declining rapidly. We would like to move to America and live there for 2 years, in order to help my mom out and say goodbye to my dad. After that, we would return to Australia; we have no intention to reside in the US permanently. Australia is our home; we have 3 kids and all our property here. So... we'd be in the US for 2 years, no more.

I've been on the phone with the US Consulate in Sydney, and they are about as vague and unhelpful as most consulates around the world are. I was told contradictory information. It *seems*, according to the cso I talked to, that my wife's choices are a) apply for a spousal visa, which basically means apply for permanent residency -- a very long process, I know, and a route we don't want to take, given that she has no intention whatsoever to immigrate; b) somehow secure her a job in the US and have a company invite her over to work so that she can apply for a work visa, but my income will be enough to support us both, so while her working might be nice, it wouldn't be necessary and I have serious doubts about whether she could find a job and get a work visa anyway (but I could be wrong); or c) apply for something called a B1/B2 visa, and travel to the US under the B2 category (for pleasure / visiting family) -- BUT, the person on the phone told me that even if she is granted the B1/B2 visa, the actual decision on the length of time she is allowed to stay in the US would be determined by the *customs & border protection officer* (the guard who stamps your passport at the airport when you enter the US), and that there are no guarantees.

So it sounds like, what that would mean is, we might go through the long process and expense of getting the B1/B2 visa, pay to put all our stuff in storage, etc etc, then fly across the Pacific only to find that she's only allowed to stay a month or a few months instead of the 2 years we are planning. Also, the person on the phone could not answer my questions about visits back to Australia (whether my wife would be let back into the US if she were to fly back here for, say, Christmas or something to visit the kids). Another thing is, I read somewhere that B2 visas are generally only granted for a maximum stay of 6 months. But then somewhere else I read that some people are given 10-year multiple entry visitor (B2) visas, but that you can't just leave the US and come right back without appearing suspicious (I am guessing that advice was for people intending on working illegally or something... which my wife is not).

My question: Do any of you have experience with this sort of situation? Any of you have an Australian spouse and experience with getting her over to the US for a long-term (like, a year or two) visit?

Thank you so much in advance for your advice!

Sincerely,
Gaines
Yes, I have been in a similar situation. B1/B2 is usually for a period of 6 months. Also, if you exit after 6 months, they usually look for more than a year gap before you can renter again on B1/B2.

Yes, getting a job is an option as there's a special quota for Australian but again that process is not smooth either.

I would recommend getting "IN" on a B1/B2 and then contact an attorney here to extend your status. Please be sure to do that before B1/B2 expires. Also, as long as you didn't violate terms os your current status and filed for a transfer of visa to some other category before the validity expired for your current visa - you can legally stay until the application is pending for the new status. Hope it helps.
 

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B1/B2: B1 is for business, B2 is for personal/ tourist reasons. When you enter the US on a B1/B2 visa, they ask the reason for your stay and allocate either B1 or B2. B2 entry is for minimum 6 months. B1 is not; it has different guidelines (usually the planned length of your business trip + some padding).

B1/B2 is NOT meant for staying long periods of time or for frequently coming in and out and you are bound to get more and more scrutiny as you take more trips. I would caution against this option as a long term solution.

Australian citizens qualify for employment-based sponsorship under the special E1 visas (it's like an H1B but for Aussies and easier to get).
 
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