US citizen moving with Taiwanese spouse to the United States?

I’m interviewing for some jobs in the US and if the opportunity calls I’ll be moving back. I’m reading on the internet that the time it takes to process a spousal immigrant visa is around a year, possibly meaning that my wife would be prevented from moving with me until everything got approved.

I also read that there are exceptional cases where the local consulate, ie AIT, could process the visa instead of having USCIS sit on it for a year. Being a longtime resident of Taiwan and suddenly having to relocate due to a new job might qualify…or it might not. Does anyone have experience with this?

Who will sponsor your wife?
Remember that you need to show proof of current income that is 125% that of the current Federal Poverty Guideline.$21,137 USD annual income.

In general, your annual income as a sponsoring spouse is the same figure you reported on your U.S. federal ( not state) income tax return for the most recent tax filing year. As of the 2018 tax filing year, this figure is your “Total Income” listed on line 6 of IRS Form 1040. Your total annual income can include wages and salaries, retirement benefits, alimony, child support, dividends or interest earned, and income from other legal sources.

The spouse seeking the green card may also use their own income to meet the financial requirements, but only as long as this income will continue from the same source after the green card is obtained.

Many people do not realize that income earned overseas does not count. The income must be U.S. based earnings.

This means, if you plan on sponsoring her, then you need to wait a year anyways.

The quickest way is just to have one of your family members sponsor your wife imho. Call or talk to someone at AIT that is what they are here for.


I thought they look at the Form 1040 income regardless of whether it was earned abroad? Regardless, declaring liquid assets 3x the poverty guidelines also works so I think I got the money part covered.

I am 100% sure about this.
The income must be U.S. based earnings.

I’m wondering about this too, are you able to have someone else from your family in America sponsor you wife? My father makes a lot more than me would I just be able to put his name down for the sponsor and show his income and move my wife over?

Yes you can.

YES you can

oh okay awesome

Go here:

and here:

The instructions don’t say to exclude foreign earned income. It only says that if the alien’s spouses income is used to qualify, that income source must continue after PR is established.

Future earnings also qualify:
“You may include evidence supporting your claim about your expected income for the current year if you believe that submitting this evidence will help you establish ability to maintain sufficient income. You are not required to submit this
evidence, however, unless specifically instructed to do so by a U.S. Government official. For example, you may include a recent letter from your employer, showing your employer’s address and telephone number, and indicating your annual salary. You may also provide pay stubs showing your income for the previous six months.”

Item 2

2. US Based Earnings

The income must be U.S. based earnings. An exception is for U.S. military stationed or on deployment overseas, and also for Department of Defense contractors. Very few others qualify based on earnings abroad. Sometimes, we can finesse a case where the U.S. citizen is working abroad on temporary assignment, but is paid by a U.S. company.


Stable, US-Based Income

The USCIS mandates that declared income must be both US-based and stable: US Income : The reported income must be US-based, with some exceptions being made for military or government personnel based overseas. Proof of income is presented through the last three years US tax returns (gross income), pay stubs displaying “year to date” summaries and a letter from the current employer noting position, date of employment and annual salary rate.

I’m currently doing it. First apply for her I-130. That will take months…I’ve been waiting a year already for this and it’s still not done.

While in progress, you can choose to have her come to the US and do a change of status (costs $1000 I think) where she can be with you on the US while waiting for the I-130.

Or you can have her visit you on the USA for 90 days at a time.

If you get the job I’d recommend you go to secure the job and income (she can come too on a visa exempt status, then if she wants to stay you can apply for her I-130 and petition to change her status if you want her to stay in the US in the meantime.

Disclaimer, I’m no lawyer just someone else in the same shoes just further along in the process,

Which option are you trying?

From what I read, if she stays in Taiwan while the I-130 is in progress, she may have difficulty visiting the United States on the VWP because filing the “I-130” shows “immigrant intent.” I also read that CBP is more lenient in admitting VWP nationals and it can be mitigated by proof that she has a house and job to go back to in Taiwan. In any case, visits would have to kept to a minimum duration as she would need to maintain a job in Taiwan.

On the other hand, landing in the United States on VWP and adjusting status means she is stranded in the United States for the year or so before she gets a green card. If she leaves during that period she could be banned from the country for 10+ years for having misrepresented her purpose of entry.

So to get out of this predicament, I only see a two options:
(1) move to Mainland China where there is a local USCIS office and I-130 processing times are less then 2 months long…but I read they are getting rid of overseas USCIS offices in the near future so this might not be worth the hassle.
(2) Qualify for “exceptional circumstances”:

Among the criteria for “exceptional circumstances”:

…or maybe if I get her pregnant at the right time:

So anyone here have experience successfully petitioning AIT to locally process I-130 under “exceptional circumstances”?

My father sponsored my wife back when we moved from Taiwan to the US. I remember a chest X-ray was needed as part of the green card application process. Get this done in Taiwan instead of the US, for obviou$ rea$on$.

Twenty years ago… I showed 3 years of US tax returns (Taiwan-based income) and I think a letter of intent from the US-based employer I was going to work for. Not sure what it is like now. Good luck with the move!

Well, we got through the entire process. Wife got IR-1 visa sticker in the passport last week. The whole process from start to finish took just over two months, with half a month being our delay in getting the right documents in.

I’ll detail our experiences below to help those who will end up in the same situation.

8/24 (am) - received formal offer letter from future employer.
8/24 (pm) - send email to AIT’s public email address support-taiwan@ustraveldocs with a request to file Form I-130 at AIT under “exceptional circumstances” and attaching the offer letter to the email.
8/26 - got an absolutely useless form response asking me to file Form I-130 at the USCIS Chicago lockbox and completely ignoring the part about exceptional circumstances.
8/27 - call AIT’s public number and am diverted to Filipino staff who don’t seem to know anything about exceptional circumstances but ask me to send my request to visaiv-ait@state dot gov instead. This email address is not published on the website but is where you want to direct your inquires. Don’t bother with the other one. I send the same email and attachments immediately.
8/28 - AIT responds stating that USCIS in Bangkok has already approved my request to file I-130 at AIT under exceptional circumstances and schedules an appointment for September 12. Both my wife and I are required to appear in person and bring a completed I-130 and supporting documents.
9/12 - We show up to AIT. The Consular Officer asks as a few basic questions. Unfortunately, the email from AIT asked for my wife’s “household registration” but didn’t specify that they wanted an English version 戶籍謄本 that was issued in the past 3 months. I had one in Chinese issued two years ago. They give us a green form to mail in with the missing document (ignore the instructions on the form about mailing in the passport, that’s for people who are getting the visa sticker). We head over to the household registration bureau to get the English version 戶籍謄本 but it takes over a week for them to translate it. (Suggestion: order multiple copies since you’ll also need to submit the same thing for the visa later in the process, and also order an “original” (i.e. issued at time of birth) English version 戶籍謄本 since they’ll need it for the visa in lieu of a birth certificate).
9/25 - We’re off on vacation in the meantime, so it’s not until a couple weeks later that we find the time to mail the missing document to AIT.
10/2 - Receive an email from AIT stating that our I-130 has been approved and asking us to fill out Form DS-260 and Form I-864. Unfortunately, the instructions they link to are very confusing as those are directed for people applying through USCIS. Ignore everything about sending documents to USCIS or NVC in the instructions. You fill out DS-260 online and gather all the supporting documents (including Form I-864) and bring them to AIT on the day of the visa interview.
10/5 - We spend a couple hours running to the Taipei Police Station and Household Registration Bureau getting documents. We order an Australian Police Certificate online - this ends up being a real stinker because it doesn’t arrive until a couple days before the interview leaving us really worried that we might need to cancel our Hawaii trip in December. (Suggestion: These supporting documents can all be ordered before your I-130 is approved. Start earlier than we did.)
10/6 - complete DS-260. This is a real pain in the butt. They wanted my wife to list by month and year every place she’s lived at since age 16 - my wife had to facebook message landlords from ten years ago to look up old addresses and flip through passport stamps to piece together the dates. We’re confused by the instructions on whether we need to do anything else after submitting the form to trigger the interview because normally NVC gathers the documents and notifies the consulate when everything is complete. Here, everything is handled by AIT - no one checks the documents for completeness until the day of the visa interview.
10/8 - email AIT stating we’ve completed DS-260 and requesting an interview appointment…no response.
10/14 - email AIT stating we’ve completed DS-260 and requesting an interview appointment…no response. I depart Taiwan to start my new life in a better place.
10/17 - email AIT stating we’ve completed DS-260 and requesting an interview appointment…finally get a response the same day inviting my wife to an interview on November 4.
10/20 - Wife does physical exam. Results can be picked up in exactly two weeks.
11/3 - Wife picks up physical exam results.
11/4 - Visa interview at AIT. Wife reports that several people in line before her were told by the local staff to reschedule for not having the right documents. She has a complete file. Consular officer asks only a few easy questions before taking her passport for visa processing.
11/8 - passport with visa sticker and packet arrive by courier.