Integrity Legal

28th September 2010

A routinely asked question by many American Citizens who have been living overseas is: can I get an American tourist visa for my foreign girlfriend or boyfriend? In the context of Cambodia, the question is usually phrased as “Can I get my Cambodian girlfriend (or boyfriend) a US Tourist visa?” In most cases, the applicant cannot obtain a United States tourist visa pursuant to section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act.

For those who are unfamiliar with the American Immigration process or the visa application process, the United States offers a recreational visa for foreign nationals under the category B-2. The B2 visa is highly sought after by those wishing to travel to the United States for recreational purposes. That said, the US Tourist visa application, and virtually all non-immigrant visa applications, requires that the applicant have true Non-Immigrant intent when traveling to the United States of America. Furthermore, pursuant to language contained in section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act a Consular Officer is required to presume that all non-immigrant visa applicants are actually intending immigrants unless evidence can be produced to the contrary. This creates a so-called “strong ties” vs. “weak ties” analysis whereby an applicant must show that he or she has strong ties to, in this scenario, Cambodia (or another country outside of the USA) and weak ties to the United States. Oftentimes, the mere existence of an American Citizen significant other is a mitigating factor in favor of denial. Therefore, those boyfriends and girlfriends of US Citizens applying for US tourist visas find their applications rejected pursuant to 214b.

Those who wish to reside in the United States should not apply for a Tourist visa. However, in the past, some tried to use the US tourist visa as a method of circumventing the comparatively longer processing times of the K1 visa (for foreign fiancees) or the Immigrant visas (for the spouses of US Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents). Under US Immigration law it is illegal to intentionally mislead an interviewing officer when applying for a visa. Therefore, those who apply for a B2 visa (or an F1 visa, J1 visa, or B1 visa for that matter) with the preconceived intention to use it to immigrate to the US could be severely penalized if the deception is discovered. For this reason, those who wish to bring a foreign loved one to the United States to reside are well advised to apply for a family based immigration petition rather than attempt to deceive Consular Officers abroad.

Even if a US Citizen’s girlfriend or boyfriend obtains a US visa, this does not necessarily mean that they will gain entry into the United States. In recent years, this author has noted that the United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) Service has been increasingly vigilant in watching for those “immigrants” traveling to the United States without proper documentation. Pursuant to legislation passed in the 1990s, USCBP is authorized to place those traveling to the US on tourist visas with undisclosed immigrant intent into expedited removal. Those who are removed from the United States in this manner may be ineligible to return for a substantial period of time.

Those seeking non-immigrant visa benefits are well advised to be clear and honest on a visa application. While those who wish to bring a fiance or spouse to the USA to reside should seriously consider the status of their relationship and submit an application or petition that accurately reflects the parties’ intentions.

For related information please see: US Visa Thai Girlfriend or K1 Visa Cambodia.


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