Integrity Legal

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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