To qualify as a sponsor for an immigrant visa, a petitioner must be domiciled in any of the States of the United States, the District of Columbia, or any territory or possession of the United States. A lawful permanent resident (LPR) sponsor also must maintain his or her LPR status.
What does domicile mean?
Domicile is the place where a sponsor has his or her principal “residence” with the intention to maintain that residence for the foreseeable future.
What if I don’t live in the US?
A sponsor who is not currently living in the United States may meet the domicile requirement if he or she can submit evidence to establish that any of the following conditions apply:
- The sponsor is employed by certain organizations as defined below.
- The sponsor is living abroad temporarily and has maintained his or her domicile in the United States.
- The sponsor intends in good faith to establish his or her domicile in the United States no later than the date of the intending immigrant’s admission to the United States.
Can a sponsor maintain a US domicile while living abroad temporarily?
US citizens and lawful permanent residents that reside outside the United States on a temporary basis may still qualify as a sponsor for an immigrant visa. “Temporary” may cover an extended period of residence abroad. The sponsor living abroad must establish the following in order to be considered domiciled in the United States:
- He/she departed the United States for a limited and not indefinite period of time,
- He/she intended to maintain a domicile in the United States, and
- He/she has evidence of continued ties to the United States.
Examples of proof that a sponsor’s trip abroad is temporary and that he or she has maintained a domicile in the United States may include:
- A voting record in the United States
- Records of paying US state or local taxes
- Having property in the United States
- Maintaining bank or investment accounts in the United States
- Having a permanent mailing address in the United States
- Other proof such as evidence that the sponsor is a student studying abroad or that a foreign government has authorized a temporary stay
How can a financial petitioner establish a domicile?
A petitioner who is unable to demonstrate that he or she is domiciled in the United States who wishes to qualify as a sponsor must demonstrate that:
- He or she has either already taken up physical residence in the United States; or
- He or she has taken concrete steps to establish a domicile in the United States and will do so concurrently with the applicant no later than the date of the intending immigrant’s admission.
Does the sponsor have to be in the United States before the beneficiary?
The sponsor does not have to precede the applicant to the United States but, if he or she does not do so, he or she must arrive in the United States concurrently with the applicant. Evidence that the sponsor has established a domicile in the United States and is either physically residing there or intends to do so before or concurrently with the applicant may include the following:
- Opening a bank account
- Transferring funds to the United States
- Making investments in the United States
- Seeking employment in the United States
- Securing a residence in the United States
- Registering children in US schools
- Applying for a Social Security number
- Voting in local, State, or Federal elections