Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘US Tourist Visa Refusal’

5th October 2010

Southeast Asia is a beautiful and  often visited part of the world. One of the lesser known, but highly enjoyable, destinations in Southeast Asia is the country of Laos. This small landlocked country north of the Kingdom of Thailand, the Kingdom of Cambodia, and South of the Peoples’ Republic of China has been a destination of choice for those seeking the adventure and natural beauty of tropical Asia. Some Americans who travel to Laos meet a special someone whom they wish to bring back to America. For these people, the first thing that comes to mind is: “Will my girlfriend (or boyfriend) need a US Visa?” In most cases, a visa will be necessary as the United states does not allow Laotians to come to America on the US Visa Waiver Program. Therefore, the next question for many is: “Can I get my Lao girlfriend (or boyfriend) a US Tourist Visa?” In most cases, the answer to this question is: no, but a deeper understanding of relevant immigration law may provide insight into the reason for possible denial.

Relatively few Americans are aware of a provision in the United States Immigration and Nationality Act called section 214(b). Under this section of the INA a Consular Officer adjudicating a non-immigrant visa application (like a B2 visa application, B2 is the official category for tourist visas) must presume that the applicant is an intending immigrant unless the applicant can provide strong evidence to the contrary. This creates a sort of “strong ties” vs. “weak ties” analysis whereby the Consular Officer will balance the applicant’s ties to the USA and Laos (or another country abroad). If the applicant can show strong ties to Laos and weak ties to the USA, then that applicant may be granted the tourist visa. However, in cases where a US Citizen is a significant other of the applicant such a relationship may have a negative impact upon the visa application as the relationship itself could be viewed as a “strong tie” to the USA. This should NOT be read as to imply that a relationship should not be disclosed as it is this author’s opinion that failure to disclose the existence of an American significant other could be construed as misrepresentation. That said, such a relationship could still have an adverse impact upon an applicant’s tourist visa application.

Those who wish to bring a Lao loved one back to the United states for the purposes of marriage and subsequent residence are well advised to seek either a US fiance visa (K1 visa) or a US Marriage Visa (CR1 Visa, IR1 Visa, or a K3 Visa although the K3 visa category has been effectively phased out by the National Visa Center in recent months).  That said, no one should ever enter into any type of relationship strictly as a pretext for obtaining a US Immigration benefit. Therefore, the relationship that acts as a basis for any visa application or petition ought to be bona fide and genuine.

For related information please see: US Visa Vietnamese Girlfriend or K1 Visa Laos.

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30th September 2010

A frequently asked question among American expatriates and tourists overseas is: “Can I bring my foreign girlfriend with me to the United States on a Tourist visa?” In the context of Burma (Myanmar) some Americans may pose the question: “Can I bring my Burmese boyfriend or girlfriend to the United States on a Tourist Visa?” In many cases, the answer to either of these questions is a qualified: No. However, an in depth understanding of the statutory scheme underlying the Consular adjudication of visa applications can provide insight into the reasons for denial of these types of visas when sought by the significant others of United States Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents.

Relatively few people (Americans included) are aware that United States Immigration law imposes a rather stringent statutory presumption that Consular Officers must adhere to when adjudicating non-immigrant visa applications. Under section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act a Consular Officer adjudicating a non-immigrant visa application abroad must refuse to issue the visa if the applicant cannot overcome the presumption that they are intending to immigrate to the United States of America. This creates a sort of “strong ties” vs. “weak ties” analysis whereby the Officer adjudicating the application can only grant the requested visa if the applicant can show sufficient “strong ties” to their home country and “weak ties” to the USA. This presumption is not easily overcome under the best of circumstances, but when an officer takes into account the fact that a non-immigrant visa applicant has an American boyfriend or girlfriend, the presumption could become virtually insurmountable without strong documentation in support of issuance.

Unfortunately, in the past there have been instances of couples attempting to utilize the US tourist visa for the purpose of circumventing the relatively long processing times associated with applying for US family immigration benefits. It should be noted that misrepresenting one’s intentions on a visa application could be construed as visa fraud by American authorities. A finding that fraud has occurred could result in civil and criminal sanctions for both the applicant and the American significant other.

Those couples wishing to obtain a family immigration benefit through use of an American fiance visa (K1 visa) or a spousal visa (K3 Visa in limited cases or a classic CR1 Visa or IR1 Visa in the vast majority of cases) should bear in mind that a visa petition should only be brought if the couple has a bona fide relationship. In short: a couple should not get married or file for a fiance visa if they do not have a bona fide relationship. A pretextual relationship, or so-called “marriage of convenience”, should not be used as a basis for submitting an application for a US visa.

For related information please see: US Visa Indonesian Girlfriend or K1 Visa Burma.

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