Integrity Legal

6th September 2009

For those entering the United States of America on a non-immigrant visa, there is generally a requirement that the entrant have non-immigrant intent. This means that the person entering the country must intend to simply remain on a temporary basis and not have the intention to reside in the United States permanently. United States Visas that require non-immigrant intent include the US Tourist Visa, the F1 Student Visa, and the J1 Exchange Visitor Visa. For each of these categories, the prospective entrant could be denied access to the United States either by visa denial or entry denial at the United States Embassy in Bangkok or the port of entry in the USA. Due to the risk of visa denial or entry denial, it is always recommended to apply for a visa that comports to the applicant’s true intentions.

Conversely, it may be unwise to apply for an immigrant visa if the parties true intentions do not actually involve residing in the United States. In this situation, the issue of intent is somewhat more fluid, but it is still advisable that the parties have a bona fide intention to reside in the USA.

With both of these issues in mind, there is something of a “middle path,” with regard to United States Immigration. This middle path is the doctrine of dual intent. This doctrine is a legal concept that deals with the fact that there are some cases where a US Visa must permit foreign nationals to be present temporarily in the United States of America in legal status and still have immigrant intent. The doctrine was promulgated due to practical necessity as there are situations in which aliens come to live and work in the USA on temporary visas, but they themselves wish to eventually obtain lawful permanent residence. United States Immigration authorities and experts have come to recognize that there are certain situations where this seemingly paradoxical situation must be accepted and, to a certain extent, encouraged.

An example of a commonly sought visa category in Thailand, is the K1 fiance visa. The K1 is a non-immigrant visa, but the alien entering the US on this visa is generally doing so in order to: reunite with their fiance(e), marry, and adjust status to permanent residence.  Therefore, the K1 visa is essentially a dual intent visa as it only allows for a 30 day temporary stay, but provides the opportunity to acquire US permanent residence.

To some extent, the K3 visa is a dual intent travel document as it is technically a non-immigrant visa, but once in the United States, the visa holder must eventually adjust status as the K3 does not confer lawful permanent residence. Usage of the K3 has declined in recent years as visa processing times have decreased for immigrant visas and increased slightly for K3 visas.

L1 visas as well as H1-B work visas are further examples of temporary visas which allow for dual intent. Although, these categories are employment based visas.


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2 Responses to “American Visas, Immigration, and the Dual Intent Doctrine”

  1. Mestytootly says:

    Thankyou integrity-legal.com and I am really pleased to find this exactly what I was looking for …

    I shall be very pleased to become a regular!

  2. Trina says:

    Kudos from one braniac to another. :)

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