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Proving domicile (or reestablishing domicile)

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Montreal, generally, takes a very hard line on domicile, with regard to proving you are domiciled in the U.S., or that you intend to reestablish your domicile no later than the intending immigrant.

I've read many reviews from Montreal where the visa has been temporarily denied, pending further evidence of that. It's a tricky situation, what they have accepted from one person they may not accept from another, so each person needs to look at their own situation and decide how best to proceed.

If you look at the instructions for the I-864, they do outline the basics of proving domicile:

15. Country of Domicile. This question is asking you to indicate the country where you maintain your principal residence and where you plan to reside for the foreseeable future. If your mailing address and/or place of residence is not in the United States, but your country of domicile is the United States, you must attach a written explanation and documentary evidence indicating how you meet the domicile requirement. If you are not currently living in the United States, you may meet the domicile requirement if you can submit evidence to establish that any of the following conditions apply:

A. You are employed by a certain organization. (lists organizations on the I-864)

B. You are living abroad temporarily. If you are not currently living in the United States, you must show that your trip abroad is temporary and that you have maintained your domicile in the United States. You can show this by providing proof of your voting record in the United States, proof of paying U.S. State or local taxes, proof of having property in the United States, proof of maintaining bank or investment accounts in the United States, or proof of having a permanent mailing address in the United States. Other proof could be evidence that you are a student studying abroad or that a foreign government has authorized a temporary stay.

C. You intend in good faith to reestablish your domicile in the United States no later than the date of the intending immigrant's admission or adjustment of status. You must submit proof that you have taken concrete steps to establish you will be domiciled in the United States at a time no later than the date of the intending immigrant's admission or adjustment of status. Concrete steps might include accepting a job in the United States, signing a lease or purchasing a residence in the United States, or registering children in U.S. schools. Please attach proof of the steps you have taken to establish domicile as described above.

So what does all this mean?

When you look at the instructions above it makes it obvious that the sponsor can prove domicile even if they are not physically residing in the United States.

For most people who are temporarily abroad and fall under category B - it's pretty transparent - should not be too hard to prove domicile if you have only been out of the U.S. for a few months for example.

However, what if you and your spouse are living together in another country, like Canada - this is where Item C comes in.

All they are asking under this category is that you intend in good faith to reestablish your domicile in the U.S. - basically, at the same time as, or before the immigrant.

This applies equally to sponsors who have never lived in the U.S. - which is where it can be misleading - how can you 'reestablish' something that you never physically established in the first place?

The bottom line is domicile, for U.S. immigration purposes, does not mean that you have to physically be in the U.S.

So how do you go about proving C?

All I can tell you is what we did (and neither one of us had lived in the U.S. prior to immigrating). Really you just have to think through what would prove that you are intending to move to the U.S. with the new immigrant. This will mean different documentation for different situations, but basically this is what we sent in (in total - initially we did not send enough proof of reestablishing domicile and received an RFE from NVC for more):

- A letter from my Sister in Nebraska, stating that we would be living in the U.S. with them after my Husband received his visa and that we had come to an agreement regarding money for accommodation. She also stated that they should feel free to call her if they had any questions.

- I opened a U.S. bank account with my Sister in Nebraska and deposited a small sum of money there. I sent along a bank statement from them.

- We opened a U.S. dollar account with a Canadian bank and moved most of our funds there.

- We applied in March of 2007. We sold our rental property in January of 2007 - we sent letters from our lawyer stating we had sold that house.

- An online quote from Upack for shipping our goods from Calgary to Nebraska.

- A copy of the letter of acknowlegement from the SS office, stating I had applied for my SSN in March 2007 and the card should arrive in 2 weeks.

That's about all I can think of. There may have been a couple of other documents.

So you can see how this all goes back to putting yourself in the mindset to figure out what might prove domicle in your situation - a voting record, applications to schools etc. I believe it would be much easier to prove if the sponsor had actually lived there before and already had established bank accounts etc.

It's all about saying...hey, we are moving! - then documenting everything required for that move, as well as providing documentation of ties to the U.S.

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I read your explanation about domicile issue and it looks pretty comprehensive.I have the same issue and I am putting my documents together.You said that many people recenly had same issue in Montreal and as far as I know the decesion is very subjective.Do you have any idea about what percentage of those people could satsify cosular officers about their domicile status in Montreal?

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I don't really know what the percentage is, however, most were successful after providing more documents.

It's important to gather as much information as you can.

Unfortunately, Montreal is very very slow, generally, when reviewing information that has been sent in after the interview. Hopefully they have picked up the pace a bit recently, but I haven't heard that.

What is your situation? What did you present at the interview? What additional information are you planning on submitting?

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