This article is meant to cast light on the American tourist visa application process for the girlfriend or boyfriend of a United States Citizen.
Many American Citizens are not cognizant of the fact that American Consuls have wide latitude in matters pertaining to the adjudication of US non-immigrant visa applications submitted throughout the world at American Missions abroad. Bearing that in mind, each year many American Citizens, both male and female, travel to countries outside of the USA and meet someone truly special. In circumstances such as this many wonder: How can I get a visa for my foreign girlfriend (or boyfriend) to come to the United States? The answer to this question is really not as simple as it may initially seem.
Pursuant to Section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act a Consular Officer at an American Institute, United States Embassy, or United States Consulate-General is required to make a presumption that a non-immigrant visa applicant is actually an intending immigrant unless they can prove otherwise. This, in turn, leads to a factual analysis by the Consular Officer. The Consular Officer must believe that the applicant has comparatively “strong ties” to their home country, or any other country outside of the USA, and comparatively “weak ties” to the United States. In many cases, the mere existence of a US citizen girlfriend (or boyfriend) will mitigate against any “strong ties” abroad and lead to a visa denial under section 214(b). The Consular Officer’s denial should not be misconstrued as a personal rejection. Instead, the adjudicating officer is legally compelled to reject a tourist visa application if the applicant cannot overcome the presumption required by section 214(b).
From the perspective of an advocate, overcoming the presumption enshrined by section 214(b) can be virtually impossible in some jurisdictions. This is further exacerbated by the myriad examples from the past of non-immigrant visa abuse culminating in an application for adjustment of status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). These statistics, coupled with the legal presumptions imposed by section 214(b) leave many US tourist visa applications hopeless from the outset.
There are many couples who, after getting to know each other come to a genuine conclusion that their relationship should blossom into something permanent; make the decision to apply for American family visa benefits. As opposed to applicants for the non-immigrant visa categories, immigrant visa applicants (or applicants for visas which permit so-called “dual intent”) are not subject to Consular adjudication pursuant to section 214(b) of the INA. Thus, those submitting an application for travel documents such as the CR1 visa, the K1 visa, and the IR1 visa do not need to be as concerned with issues arising under section 214(b). That said, any visa application should be based upon bona fide facts and family based visa applications must be based upon bona fide relationships entered into independent of a desire to obtain American visa benefits.