IMMIGRANT AND NON IMMIGRANT VISAS
Most temporary visitors to the United States have to apply for non-immigrant visas such as tourist visa (B-2) or business visa (B-1) in order to be able to come to the United States. The B visa is the most common type of non-immigrant visas. B1/B2 visa is often referred to as a visitor visa, either for business (B-1) or for pleasure (B-2). The application for a visitor visa is usually made at a United States embassy or consulate in the applicant’s native country. The applicant has to appear for a visa interview before a tourist visa can be issued.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) under 214(b) considers all visa applicants, including those applying for visitor visas, to be immigrants until they prove to the consular officer that they qualify for non-immigrant status (with the exception of H-1B, L, and V visas, which allow for dual intent). In order to be classified as a non-immigrant, you must prove to the satisfaction of the consular officer that you are entitled to a nonimmigrant status under section 101(A)(15).
If you have a relative in the United States, you should prepare even more thoroughly and provide even more documents to show that you do not intend to remain in the United States permanently. If you are denied a visitor visa, it will be very difficult to obtain a visa in the same classification unless there is a material change in your circumstances. For that reason, it is especially important to carefully prepare for your initial tourist visa interview. At all subsequent interviews, you are likely to be denied as soon as the officer sees in the system that you have been recently refused a visa.
Agents at SO Travel Ghana LLC. are dedicated to helping international visitors to successfully obtain non-immigrant B-1 business and B-2 tourist visas. We are thoroughly familiar with non-immigrant visa procedures all around the world, including from the most difficult countries and consulates. We guide our clients every step of the way.
Visa for Alien Spouse or relative in the USA
Based on past applications, family reunification has been the easiest and fastest way of bringing your loved ones to the United States. If you are a United States citizen married to a foreign national, and you want to sponsor your foreign spouse or alien relative’s immigration, you are probably wondering what the best and fastest way to do it is. In some cases, the fastest way to bring your spouse or alien relative to the United States may not be the best one, and a mistake can lead to unfavorable consequences for your family. However, you should be careful and talk to an experienced immigration agent about your specific case in order to avoid any potential problems and complications.
If your foreign spouse or alien relative is in the United States, he or she may file for adjustment of status (green card) at the same time when you file your Petition for Alien Relative for him or her. Note that you can do that even if your spouse does not currently have valid immigration status or violated their status, as long as he or she entered the United States legally. Your spouse can also apply for employment authorization (work permit) and travel authorization (travel document) at the same time.
Provided that you file everything correctly and your case does not encounter problems, your spouse may receive his or her green-card as soon as in four (4) to six (6) months. If the process lasts longer, the foreign spouse or alien relative may be able to work in the United States and travel outside the United States while his or her immigration process is pending. Currently, adjustment of status provides a faster immigration process compared to consular processing. In addition, adjustment of the status applicant does not have to obtain police clearance records from abroad, as applicants for consular processing do. However, in order to be eligible for adjustment of status an applicant must be physically present in the United States, which could present a difficulty for some couples.
If your foreign spouse or alien relative leaves the United States BEFORE you file for his or her immigration, he or she will not be able to adjust his or her status to a permanent resident at the same time when you file your I-130 petition. Instead, he or she will need to wait, while living abroad, until your petition is approved, and then undergo consular processing and receive an immigrant visa at the United States Embassy or Consulate in his or her country (GHANA). This can cause lengthy separations. As of January 17, 2017, the entire process of Consular Processing takes approximately 8-12 months.
Visa for Alien Spouse or relative outside the USA
If your spouse lives abroad, or if he or she left the United States before you filed for his or her immigration, your foreign spouse or alien relative will need to go through consular processing.
The process of sponsoring your foreign spouse or alien relative through the US consulate abroad consists of three stages.
First, you, the U.S. Citizen, need to file form I-130, petition for alien relative, for your foreign spouse or alien relative. This petition is filed with the USCIS in the United States, unless the US consulate in the country where you are located (GHANA), allows you to file directly with the consulate. If you file correctly, and your case doesn’t encounter serious problems, the I-130 petition takes approximately six (6) months to be decided on. Unless you are a permanent resident which then takes longer.
After your I-130 petition is approved, the case is then transferred to the US Department of State, National Visa Center (NVC). NVC typically sends you a notice asking you to pay fees, file additional online forms, and to submit additional documents. You and your foreign spouse or alien relative will need to submit additional documents, including an affidavit of support for your foreign spouse or alien relative.
After the NVC collects all the required documents, the NVC sends you a notice confirming that they got everything they need and, that they will transfer the case to the US consulate handling immigrant visas for the citizens of your foreign spouse or alien relative ’s country (GHANA). At this point, your foreign spouse or alien relative will need to collect police clearance(s) and undergo a medical examination. Eventually, your spouse will be invited to the United States consulate in his or her country (GHANA)for an immigrant visa interview. If granted a visa, he or she will be admitted to the United States as a permanent resident and receive a green card in the mail after arrival in the United States.
K-3 / K - 4 Visas
Understandably, many people want to be able to live with their spouses in the United States while their foreign spouse’s immigration petition is pending. For that purpose, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) created the K-3 visa. K-3 is the visa for spouses of U.S. citizens; it allows the foreign spouse to come to the United States while the I-130, petition filed by the U.S. citizen, is pending. K-4 is the visa for minor children of spouses; it allows children to come to the United States with their parent who is married to a U.S. citizen. K-3 and K-4 are considered non-immigrant visas, but they allow their holders to adjust their status to permanent residents in the United States and receive green cards. However, the K-3 visa process did not meet its intended goals. Unfortunately, the K-3 visa process itself takes the same or even longer amount of time than the immigrant visa process, thereby even potentially delaying the process rather than helping.
One potential problem with foreign spouses trying to obtain nonimmigrant visas and/or enter the United States using such a non-immigrant visa or on the Visa Waiver Program is the so-called “immigrant intent”. A person who applies for a non-immigrant visa must prove that he or she does not have “immigrant intent”, meaning that he or she does not plan to stay in the United States and live in the United States permanently.
For that reason, your foreign-citizen spouse may not be able to receive a non-immigrant visa to visit the United States while his or her immigrant petition is pending. The fact that the applicant for a tourist or visitor visa is married to a U.S. citizen, especially if he or she already has a pending immigrant petition, creates a presumption of “immigrant intent”, which makes the applicant ineligible for a non-immigrant visa.
Similarly, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspectors may deny entry to the United States to a non-immigrant visa holder for the same reason – presumed immigrant intent resulting from marriage or even engagement with a U.S. citizen or green-card holder.
A foreign spouse trying to enter the United States on a valid non-immigrant visa issued prior to the marriage can be still be denied admission, if it surfaces that he or she is married to a U.S. citizen, thus creating a presumption of “immigrant intent”
The foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen may be able to obtain a non-immigrant visa to visit the U.S., if he or she is able to show that he or she does not currently plan to immigrate to the U.S. For example, if both spouses live and work abroad and plan to return to their country of residence after a temporary visit to the United States, the foreign spouse may be able to obtain a visitor’s visa.