Integrity Legal

24th April 2009

An extremely popular question asked by those seeking to bring a loved one to the United States from Thailand revolves around whether it is possible to obtain a tourist visa from the US Embassy in Bangkok. The crux of the problem with tourist visas comes down to an inability of most applicants to overcome the consular officer’s presumption of immigrant intent.

Tourist Visas and Immigrant Intent

Under section 214 (b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act, a consular officer at a diplomatic post is required to presume that all applicants for a non-immigrant visa actually are intending immigrants. In order for an applicant to overcome this presumption, they must produce evidence which denotes that the applicant has a compelling reason to return to Thailand after visiting the United States. Evidence of a compelling reason to return to Thailand includes: Employment in Thailand at a high salary (the salary itself is not so much of likely interest to a consular officer per se, but the fact that a high salary is not something most people abandon), strong family ties to the Kingdom,  and investments in Thailand that are difficult to abandon (real property, small business, etc.). This list is not exhaustive, but is simply intended to give an idea of what consular officers are looking for when determining whether an applicant has overcome the presumption of immigrant intent.

Is a US boyfriend or husband a “poison pill,” for a Thai’s US Tourist Visa Application?

Some people believe that the presence of an American as the Thai’s primary partner in a relationship causes an automatic denial of a tourist visa application. The author does not believe this to be the case. Instead, where the Thai applicant has an American significant other, the applicant must still show that they overcome the presumption of immigrant intent. The difference when there is an American present comes down to showing that the couple is not utilizing a tourist visa to circumvent the conventional method for immigrating to the US by entering on a tourist visa and attempting to regularize status and obtain permanent residence. Put simply, the couple needs to show that they are using the visa for its legitimate purpose: tourism.

If a K1 Visa is a non-immigrant visa, why can a Thai fiancee remain in the USA on it?

In a way, the K1 Visa is a fusion of elements of both the non-immigrant and immigrant visas. The visa allows the Thai fiance to enter the US for 90 days for the sole purpose of marriage to a US Citizen and adjustment of status in order to remain in the USA. The visa was created to allow couples the opportunity to see if a marriage will work and if the couple decides that it will, then status adjustment is permitted. So the visa is non-immigrant insofar as it has a definitive expiration date, but if the K1 visa holder complies with the visa and decides to marry stateside, then they can remain in the USA with a minimum amount of legal difficulty.

Please note: None of the above should be construed as creating an attorney client relationship nor should be used in lieu of legal advice from a competent licensed attorney


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One Response to “K1 Visas & Tourist Visas: A Matter of Intent”

  1. Major Macke says:

    You will see that an efficient lawyer is well worth his or her fee. Normally you get what you pay for.

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