Integrity Legal

15th June 2009

For many Americans the Tourist visa is the travel document that comes to mind when discussing US Immigration. For Immigration based upon a family relationship the Tourist Visa is the worst option when an American Citizen spouse or Fiance is seeking to bring the foreign fiancee or spouse to the USA in order to remain.

One of the main reasons why the tourist visa is not an option that should be contemplated when making family immigration decisions stems from the fact that the purpose of the US tourist visa is misunderstood and the visa itself has been greatly misused in the past. A US Visitor Visa is intended for short term recreational purposes only. Similarly the US business visa is meant for short term business endeavors in the USA (conferences, trade shows, etc.) Neither are designed for use by those who seek to have their loved one remain in the USA permanently.

Consular officers making a judgment call on a US visitor visa must be convinced that the applicant has overcome the statutory presumption of immigrant intent. This doctrine stipulates that the applicant for a tourist visa is a presumed immigrant until they can demonstrate that they are strongly connected to a place outside of the USA. So connected, in fact, that they are more likely to leave the United States in order to return to that location than they would be to remain in the United States past their visa expiration.

A major misconception regarding practically any visa is the idea that it confers a “right” to enter the United States of America. In reality, the visa confers a right to present themselves at the border and upon inspection and approval from the Immigration officer, be admitted to the United States. Even at a United States port of entry, it is possible for the traveler to be turned away if the Immigration officer feels it is necessary. As a practical matter, this rarely occurs due to the fact that most entrants to the USA have a legitimate reason for entry.

Since September 11, 2001 US Immigration officials have been more zealous in their enforcement of US Immigration rules and regulations and as a result the scrutiny placed upon entrants to the US, whether they intend to immigrate or not, has increased.

Due to the fact that the US tourist visa is intended for non-immigrant purposes and the fact that scrutiny of non-immigrants to the US has increased. It is now highly advisable that those wishing to bring a loved one to the USA use the proper travel document. For those seeking to bring a loved one that they are not married to, a K-1 visa may be an appropriate option. While those with an overseas wife might opt for the K-3 visa, CR-1 Visa, or IR-1 Visa depending upon the couple’s circumstances and immigration goals.

Be advised that entering the USA on a visitor visa with anything other than NON-immigrant intent, could be viewed as an attempt to defraud immigration officials and lead to criminal or civil penalties as well as a possible later finding of inadmissibility. If deemed inadmissible, one can only be admitted to the USA after application for a waiver.

(Please note: this post is not a substitute for legal advice. For proper legal advice seek the counsel of a licensed attorney. No part of this piece should be construed as forming an Attorney-client relationship between author and reader.)


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