VIDEO: B2 visitor visas to the US

What can I do to improve my relative’s chances of coming to the United States on a visitor visa?  Hi.  I’m Jim Hacking, Immigration Attorney practicing law here in St. Louis, Missouri.  Unfortunately, there’s not a terrible amount that we can do from here at the United States to improve your relative’s chances of getting that B2 Visitor Visa to come to the United States.  What we’re talking about here today is a situation where someone wants to come for a short visit, and not stay in the United States in any kind of long-term status.  They’re not coming as a student or as an employee, or they’re not coming as an immigrant to stay.  What we’re talking about is that B2 Visitor Visa.

A lot of times, people contact us through the website or call our firm because their loved one got denied at the Embassy to get a visit visa.  Now, the thing you need to know is that the State Department has a lot of leeway in deciding who gets visit visas and who does not.  This means that if they deny a visit visa, it’s pretty hard to overcome that, and so we recommend doing certain things at the outset to improve the chances of success in getting that visit visa.  How do we do that?  The main thing to keep in mind is that the State Department is concerned that people who come on visit visas will not return to their home country.

The funny thing is the US Immigration Service and all government agencies obviously keep track of who comes into the United States, or we don’t really keep track very well who leaves the United States.  A lot of the people who are currently in the United States out of status came on some kind of visa and never went home; and so when the State Department is requested to give a visit visa, they’re going to scrutinize that individual to try to determine whether or not that person has an immigrant attempt, that is if they want to stay in the United States, or that they’ll follow the rules and go back to their home country when their visit is up.

A typical visitor visa is good for six months.  You can sometimes get that continued for another six months, but they want to make sure that at the end of the stay, the person is going to leave the United States.  One way people do remain in the United States, and do and learn around a lot of the immigration laws is they come on a visitor visa, and they’d marry a US citizen.  This is the main thing that the State Department is concerned about when they had someone sitting across the table from the Embassy trying to decide whether or not they get a visit visa, is this person going to come back home, and go back to their lives and their home country?

If you operate from that mindset, if you operate from the point of view of the State Department and think to yourself, “Well, what are some ways that I can demonstrate that the relative intends to go back to their home country?”  The best way to do that is to document and demonstrate a secure life back in the home country.  For instance, let’s say that we have someone whose cousin wants to come visit from Peru.  Now, if this person is 25 years old, and unmarried, and work in a part-time back in Peru, it’s going to be very difficult to demonstrate that that Peruvian is going to go back to their home country.

Now, if they can show up significant ties like owning property, or having a bank account, or having a business, or working for an employer, those are the kinds of things that can show that the person is going to go back home.  Sometimes, it’s just as simple as making a written promise to show that they will indeed go back to their home country.  That’s one way we can do it.  Another thing we can do is demonstrate that the person is going to be supported in the United States by a loved one.  If the US citizen or lawful permanent resident of the Peruvian were to make some kind of written promise to make sure that the individual goes back home to Peru, I think that goes a long way towards demonstrating nonimmigrant intent, and that’s what we’re talking about here.

We want to demonstrate nonimmigrant intent.  At the end of the day, we can’t control what they do.  There’s not an appeals process.  If you have anyone who’s promising you, “Oh, yeah.  I can give you a visit visa.  Just give me some money, and I’ll take care of it for you,” I would be very circumspect and very worried about that.  I think you have to ask yourself, “Is it realistic that I’m going to be able to demonstrate that this loved one is going to go back to their home country?”  Sometimes, we have people get visit visas denied, and it really surprises us.  Sometimes, old grandmas and grandpas don’t get visitor visas, and we don’t always know why.

One of the reasons why though is because they have a US citizen child, and the Immigration Services is concerned that instead of filing an Overseas I-130, an Overseas Immediate Relative Visa Application, that the US citizen is instead trying to get them to come to the United States, and then get a green card through adjusting status here in the United States.  We had a situation come up recently where someone came to see us, and the mother had done just that.  You have a US citizen and a mother and father who live overseas.  The mother got a visit visa about five years ago, and while she’s in the United States, she obtained her green card.  Now, it’s time for dad to request a visit visa, and the State Department turned him down.

Do you know why?  Because the mom had screwed it up for the dad because the mom had adjusted status, and obtained a visit visa, and then come to the United States, and adjusted her green card status right here in United States instead of waiting like everybody else.  That went, and when the dad wanted to get a visit visa that the State Department was not going to be so generous, and they denied that application.  These are the kinds of things you should think about if you’re trying to get a loved one here on a visit.  It’s not automatic certainly, and you can be denied if you don’t have the proper documentation.  If you have any questions about this, give us a call 314-961-8200, or you can email me jim@hackinglawpractice.com.  Thanks.