The process of obtaining a US visa for a loved one can be confusing. This article delves into the process of obtaining a US B-2 tourist visa from Thailand.
There are many people of all nationalities and backgrounds who submit applications for American tourist visas at the United States Embassy in the Kingdom of Thailand. Although such applications are rather common, they are becoming increasingly subject to denial pursuant to section 214(b) of the United States Citizenship and Nationality Act. This rule requires Consular Officers to make a presumption that the tourist visa applicant is actually an undisclosed immigrant unless the visa applicant can show strong evidence that contradicts and thereby rebuts this presumption. Section 214(b) therefore creates a "strong ties" vs. "weak ties" analysis which necessitates that the applicant show "strong ties" to their country of origin, or another country outside of the United States of America, and also "weak ties" to the US. This can be a very problematic provision especially for those Americans who wish to bring a Thai significant other back to the US for a temporary stay.
The existence of an American Citizen boyfriend or girlfriend can be very detrimental for a Thai National's B-2 visa application (or any non-immigrant visa application for that matter including the F-1 visa, J-1 visa, B-1 visa, etc). The detriment arises from the fact that the applicant has a relationship with an American and therefore could be construed to have a "strong tie" to the USA. There are some Thai-American couples who try to avoid this issue by simply "not mentioning" the existence of a romantic relationship with a US Citizen. 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 I-601 waiver.
Although, the DS-156 form that is utilized in applying for an American tourist visa does not pose the question: "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 for this discussion is due to the fact that the remainder of the form's questions can be answered relatively easily. For example, one can say with near certainty if they have a US Citizen husband or wife, but "fiance" is another, more opaque, concept. Defining the term "fiance" can be problematic as romantic relationships, before marriage, are fairly fluid from a legal perspective. 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 Officer 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.
Whatever the factual situation, the existence of a "fiance/fiancee" ought to be disclosed as a failure to do so would likely be construed as a misrepresentation of a material fact if, in fact, the couple plans to eventually get married.
Ben Hart is an attorney from the United States and Managing Director of Integrity Legal (Thailand) Co. Ltd. Contact Integrity Legal at 1-877-231-7533, +66 (0)2-266-3698, or firstname.lastname@example.org. See them on the web at: K1 Visa Thailand or K1 visa process.