New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Can I Bring My Fiance To The US On A Tourist Visa?

Author: New York immigration lawyer Alena Shautsova

One of the common questions I receive through online inquires is related to bringing family members to the US. While I already have a number of articles regarding this topic (See Adjustment Of Status For K-1 Visa Entrants), I would like to focus here on a fiancé visa.

In most cases of family immigration, there have to exist a familial relationship between a petitioner and a beneficiary: a husband and a wife; a mother and a child; siblings, etc. The law does not allow any family member to sponsor any family member: for example, a grandchild cannot sponsor a grandparent; or an aunt cannot sponsor a nephew. One of the exceptions to the general rule of familial relationship is a fiancé visa: this visa allows somebody who is just planning to become a “legal” family to come to the US for a short period time prior to legalizing the relationship.

It should be noted here that a fiancé visa is now available for the same sex couples as well, as long as they meet all other qualifications, including an intent to get married within 90 days of arrival of non-citizen.

A fiancé visa can be granted to a person who is found to be a “fiancé” by the USCIS after a US citizen submitted a corresponding petition. Only a US citizen can file such a petition. A person who is a green card holder or holds any type of visa, including L1, H1B or TN cannot invite their prospective spouses to the US on a fiancé visa.

So, many ask me: can I bring my fiancé to the US on a tourist visa, and then we will get married here… The answer is … NO. One should not try to avoid Immigration regulations just because it seems easier and faster. Why? Because robbing a bank seems like a great idea when you are out of cash, but surely you will be punished for it , not even saying that a robber will likely to get caught in the process… The same happens with the B (tourist) visas for fiancées. Once a US citizen knows that he/she will be marrying or has an intention to get married with a non-citizen, a fiancé petition has to be filed. A person who will be applying with a fraudulent intention for a B (tourist) visa is likely to get his/her application denied as a consulate officer is a highly trained professional, with years of experience and will be able to recognize a true visitor from a boyfriend or girlfriend who are trying to bypass the law.

Now, imagine, you are this US citizen who has a fiancé overseas. You have talked to your fiancé for months online (on the phone, Skype, etc.), and you guys met in person, and now you are very excited about her/his visit. You called an Immigration attorney and found out that a fiancé petition may take a year to be granted… You are upset and looking for “shortcuts.” Now, while it is tempting to tell your partner to apply for a tourist visa, you have to imagine the bitter disappointment your partner may go through when that tourist visa will be denied. Well, you will say: it is worth a try, and after the denial we will just apply for that right visa… But in many, many cases, a consul will pose a question during the subsequent application of….an immigration fraud… A finding of Immigration fraud will lead to the necessity of a waiver… A waiver may cost thousands in attorney’s fees and six months to infinity in wait time… So, is it really worth it?

The bottom line is that if you know you would like to marry your partner, you either marry them outside the US and then apply for an immigrant visa (CR or IR), or you invite them to the US in prescribed by the law manner, using a K visa.

07 July 2015
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