Integrity Legal

17th March 2010

Many people contact this author in order to ask questions about the United States Immigration process. Sometimes, a question becomes so common that I feel the need to post an article about the subject on this blog. The question that has been recently posed with great frequency is: Can I get my Thai girlfriend to the United States on a US tourist visa? Strictly speaking, yes, but this answer needs to be highly qualified. Anyone who is approved for a US tourist visa can go to the United States and request admission, but obtaining approval of a US tourist visa application can be difficult for the boyfriend or girlfriend of an American Citizen. The difficulty arises under the provisions of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act.

Pursuant to Section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act a Consular Officer at a United States Embassy or United States Consulate-General is required to make a presumption that a non-immigrant visa applicant is actually an intending immigrant unless they can prove otherwise. This, in turn, leads to a factual analysis by the Consular Officer. The Consular Officer must believe that the applicant has “strong ties” to their home country, or any other country outside of the USA, and “weak ties” to the United States. In many cases, the mere existence of a US Citizen boyfriend or girlfriend will mitigate against any “strong ties” abroad and lead to a visa denial under section 214(b). This reasoning on the part of US Embassy personnel should not be misconstrued as a personal denial. Instead, the officer is legally compelled to deny a tourist visa application if the applicant cannot overcome the presumption imposed by section 214(b).

Many people then ask the question: can this visa denial be appealed? No, although an applicant may ask for a tourist visa application to be reopened. That being said, in virtually all cases, the denial will be upheld. A Consular Officer’s factual findings are not subject to appeal based upon the doctrine of Consular Absolutism. However, a legal finding may be subject to reversal. With that in mind, one should recognize that a visa denial under section 214(b) is a factual determination and therefore not generally subject to reversal.

If a couple truly has a bona fide intention to marry in the USA and apply for adjustment of status, then a tourist visa is really not the correct travel document as it specifically precludes immigrant intent (unlike a dual intent travel document such as a K1 visa or an L1 visa). Therefore, if the couple wishes to marry and adjust status, then a Fiance Visa is a more appropriate travel document. However, the couple must have a truly bona fide intention to marry and not simply a pretextual intention in order to pursue US Immigration benefits.

For further information for about visas in general and the complex issues surrounding family based petitions please see: US Visa Thai Girlfriend.


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6 Responses to “Can I Get A US Tourist Visa For My Thai Girlfriend?”

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