Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘American Tourist Visa’

14th May 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that some have criticized the current process associated with adjudication and issuance of United States visas. Notably, it would seem that this criticism is mostly concerned with non-immigrant visas such as the B-2 visa (US tourist visa) and the B-1 visa (US business visa). To quote directly from a Reuters story posted on the website airwise.com:

The complicated US visa system hurts tourism and must be reformed if the United States wants to attract lucrative tourism from countries such as China, India and Brazil, travel industry officials said…

Readers of this blog are encouraged to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this story in detail and also gain greater insight into this developing issue.

At the time of this writing the United States maintains a system which allows for some nations to receive admission to the USA through a visa waiver program. As noted above: China, India, and Brazil are not included in the visa waiver program. This situation exists notwithstanding the fact that these three nations in association with two others (South Africa and Russia) compose the so-called BRICS group of developing countries with what some would claim is a virtually unlimited capacity for economic growth in the future.

This visa waiver program also entails the so-called “ESTA” (Electronic System For Travel Authorization) program, which requires foreign nationals to pre-register for admission to the United States before beginning their journey to America. It should be noted that in its current form the ESTA program only pertains to nationals from visa waiver participating countries. Therefore, nationals from countries such as China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, and the Kingdom of Thailand cannot benefit from the visa waiver program and the ESTA program as of the time of this writing.

Those interested in further information on such topics are encouraged to visit a few official websites: HERE and HERE. To quote further from the aforementioned piece:

“The challenge we have is the unnecessary, burdensome US visa system,” said USTA president Roger Dow. “It’s really self-imposed barriers that we put on ourselves as a country that have caused us to lose international travel and that have stymied international growth.”

This blogger has heard this argument made in the past and it is certainly salient especially at a time when tourism income is in high demand in an international context. To continue quoting further:

The US visa process from beginning to end can take as long as 145 days in Brazil and 120 days in China, a USTA report said. In contrast, Britain takes an average of 12 days to process visas in Brazil and 11 days in China…

Clearly, the visa processing time differential between the United States and the somewhat similarly socioeconomically situated United Kingdom is a stark contrast. To quote further:

US Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat who chairs a subcommittee focused on export promotion and competitiveness, said the travel industry was important to help President Barack Obama meet his stated goal of doubling exports by 2014. “We see it as part of our economic recovery. I see this as a way to get jobs in our country,” Klobuchar said…

It is refreshing to see a federal legislator like Senator Amy Klobucher from the sovereign State of Minnesota taking the time to investigate an issue that may, at first glance, seem mundane. In point of fact, matters pertaining to United States non-immigrant visas are extremely important as they can have a significant impact upon foreign direct investment in the United States and the amount of money raised by American companies and enterprises offering services to foreign nationals both in the USA and abroad. Finally, a legislator trying to find reasonable solutions to American economic concerns in a reasonable manner! America: Let us not forget, we are one of the most historically fascinating and economically dynamic nations ever to have made our voices heard in the chorus of history. Why do we forget this? We seem to find ourselves constantly debating the minutia of our past transgressions or the history of our geopolitically unique grouping of jurisdictions. We do this when solutions to some of the current economic problems stare us in the face. The reality is that there are many around the world who wish to do business with those in the United States of America. There are many who want to buy our products. There currently exists the distinct possibility that the continent of Asia will have a constantly growing middle class of prospective international travelers for decades into the future. These travelers will likely be traveling for both business as well as pleasure. It stands to reason that many prospective tourists from Asia will make their initial international travel decisions with great care. Therefore, America should continue to be mindful of the fact there exists an international competitive market for income generated from tourism.  It stands to reason that more tourists in America means more tourism income.

From a legal perspective there is something to be said for allowing further membership in the United States visa waiver program as it would lead to fewer overall denied visa applications based upon section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act. Currently, many tourist visa applications are denied pursuant to a presumption in the aforementioned section of U.S. law. This section requires Consular Officers to make the factual presumption that a tourist visa applicant is actually an intending American immigrant unless the applicant can produce sufficient evidence to overcome this presumption. The visa waiver program gets around this 214(b) presumption by waiving the need for an American visa. Simultaneously, the visa waiver program also restricts those foreign nationals admitted into the United States from adjusting status to lawful permanent residence. One may adjust one’s status to lawful permanent residence (Green Card status) from tourist visa status in the U.S.A. under very limited circumstances. The visa waiver program does not permit such adjustment and therefore requires those foreign nationals seeking immigrant status to depart the United States and undergo Consular Processing abroad.

It remains to be seen whether or not US visa policy regarding non-immigrant visas such as those described above will be changed, but clearly there is some momentum behind this rather important issue in Washington D.C.

For related information please see: K-1 visa system, K-3 visa system, or US Company Registration.

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29th September 2010

A frequently asked question from those Americans with a special someone in Indonesia is: “Can I get my Indonesian girlfriend (or boyfriend) a US Tourist Visa?” In many cases, the answer to this question is: No. However, a better understanding of the relevant laws and regulations  can be highly illuminating for those with an Indonesian significant other.

Many Americans are unfamiliar with section 214 (b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act. This legislation creates a legal presumption that an American Consular Officer must take into consideration when adjudicating non-immigrant visa applications. The section requires the Consular Officer to presume that the applicant for a non-immigrant visa is actually an undisclosed intending immigrant unless the applicant can produce strong evidence to the contrary. This creates a so-called “strong ties” vs. “weak ties” analysis whereby the applicant must show “strong ties” to their native country, or another country outside of the United States of America and “weak ties” to the USA. Therefore, the Indonesian girlfriend (or boyfriend) of an American Citizen (or Lawful Permanent Resident) must show that they have strong ties to Indonesia and weak ties to the USA. In general, the mere existence of an American significant other is enough to mitigate against many “strong ties” outside of the USA and thereby lead to a denial of an American B2 tourist visa application.

The reason for this state of affairs is first due to the fact that the the presumption contained in section 214b is quite stringent when applied to the facts of many individual cases. Many who are rejected under this provision feel that the denial is some sort of personal rejection. Nothing could be further from the reality of the situation as a US Consulate or US Embassy will routinely issue these denials for no reason other than the application of relevant law. Meanwhile, there are some who speculate that part of the reason for the relative increase in these denials over the course of the past 10 years is due in part to the tragedy of 9/11 which lead to increased scrutiny of all immigrant and non-immigrant visa applications. Furthermore, there have been those who inappropriately use the US tourist visa to circumvent the comparatively longer processing time associated with a US fiance visa (K1 visa) or a US Marriage Visa (K3 Visa, CR1 Visa, IR1 Visa).

Those who have a foreign girlfriend (or boyfriend) and can show genuine ties to countries abroad may still be able to get a US Tourist Visa. That said, this post is merely meant to explain the relatively higher denial rate that seems to exist in B2 visa applications for the significant others of Americans. Those with a bona fide relationship and genuine intentions may be able to obtain an American fiance visa or marriage visa, but it should be noted that no one should ever enter into a relationship strictly to obtain visa benefits. A family based visa application should be based upon a bona fide relationship.

For related information please see: US Visa Cambodian Girlfriend or K1 Visa Indonesia.

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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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