Integrity Legal

11th Mar 2010

There are many people of all nationalities who submit applications for a US Tourist Visa at the US Embassy Thailand. Although these applications are quite common, they are becoming increasingly subject to denial pursuant to section 214(b) of the United States Citizenship and Nationality Act. This provision basically requires that the Consular Officer make a presumption that the tourist visa applicant is an undisclosed immigrant unless the applicant can provide strong evidence to the contrary. This creates the “strong ties” vs. “weak ties” analysis which requires that the applicant show “strong ties” to a country outside of the United States and “weak ties” to the USA. This can be a very problematic provision especially for those Americans who wish to bring a Thai significant other back to the US.

The existence of an American Citizen boyfriend can be very detrimental for a Thai’s B2 visa application (or any non-immigrant visa application for that matter ex: F-1 visa, J-1 visa, B-1 visa, etc). The detriment arises from the fact that the applicant has a primary relationship with an American and therefore could be construed to have a “strong tie” to the USA. Some couples try to get around this problem by “not mentioning” the existence of a relationship with an American. This is not a good idea, in this author’s opinion, because any dishonesty, even dishonesty by omission, is unethical and could be viewed by the Embassy and/or Consulate as an attempt to defraud the US government. For an American Citizen, a finding of fraud and misrepresentation could lead to penalties, but such a finding could have a highly negative impact upon the applicant’s chances of ever obtaining a US visa in the future as fraud and misrepresentation is considered a legal grounds of inadmissibility to the USA that would likely only be remedied upon the approval of an I601 waiver.

However, the DS-156 form that is used to apply for a US tourist visa does not ask “do you have an American boyfriend/girlfriend?” Instead the forms asks:

“Are Any of The Following Persons in The U.S., or Do They Have U.S. Legal Permanent Residence or U.S. Citizenship? Mark YES or NO and indicate that person’s status in the U.S. (i.e., U.S. legal permanent resident, U.S. citizen, visiting, studying, working, etc.)”

The form then allows the applicant to note family relationships, including “fiance/fiancee.” The reason this is being discussed is due to the fact that the rest of the form’s questions can be relatively easily answered. For example,  one can say with near certainty if they have a US Citizen husband, but “fiance” is another, more opaque, concept. Defining “fiance” is difficult as relationships, prior to marriage, are fairly fluid from a legal standpoint. In this author’s opinion, if the applicant has a romantic relationship with an American Citizen, then this fact should be disclosed to the Consular Officers either in writing or at the visa interview, but if there is any inkling that marriage and adjustment of status may be a possibility, then it may be better to forgo an attempt at a tourist visa, as this is not really the proper travel document, and submit a petition for a K1 visa.

For further information, please see: US Visa Thailand.

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