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Can I Visit My Spouse in the U.S. While Waiting for My Green Card

If you’re married and living apart, it wouldn’t be surprising if you wanted to spend time with your spouse. However, visits during the immigration process can cause problems if you are not careful.

Immigration officials often worry that spouses of citizens and green card holders will try to bypass certain procedures if they get into the U.S. It is absolutely critical to be honest when answering questions. Any hint of fraud could put your immigration goals in jeopardy.

Traveling on a Tourist Visa

You can apply for a short -term “visitor” visa to enter the U.S. to see your spouse. If you’re coming from a visa waiver country, you may need to seek ESTA authorization instead.

Because these visas are not allowed to be used for immigration purposes, you need to demonstrate that you have no plans to stay beyond a short visit. Some ways to show immigration authorities that you will honor your temporary visa include:

  • Providing tickets and other evidence of travel plans showing a return date
  • Showing that you have job duties or educational commitments to return to in your home country
  • Proving that you own or rent a residence in your home country
  • Showing that you are entering the U.S. for a specific event such as a family party

You could ask your immigration lawyer to prepare a letter explaining the purpose of your trip. An experienced immigration attorney will know the information to include to put to rest potential concerns immigration officials might have about your visit.

Traveling with a K-3 Visa

If you want to come for a longer visit, a K-3 visa can allow you to remain in the U.S. until you obtain your green card. While that may sound ideal, the process of obtaining this visa makes it impractical for many couples.

The K-3 visa is for spouses of U.S. citizens in situations where the citizen spouse has already filed a Form I-130 immigration petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Because it takes so long to process the application for a K-3 visa, often the immigration petition gets approved first, and the application for the K-3 visa is essentially canceled. Most couples find that waiting for I-130 approval and processing the visa application through the embassy or consulate takes about the same amount of time as the K-3 visa process.  

Factors That Could Make it Easier to Get Temporary Visa Approval

Immigration authorities are more likely to believe that your temporary visit is really going to be temporary if certain facts weigh in your favor. Of course, if these factors weigh against you, that can make it harder to get approved for a visit even if you have done nothing wrong.

The first factor is your history of visiting the U.S. If you have entered and exited the country many times with no immigration violations, officials will find it easier to believe that you intend to do so again. If you ever overstayed a visa or committed another offense, however, your approval is less likely. 

The second factor involves your country of origin. Unfortunately, if you are in a country known to have a high rate of immigration fraud, that could be held against you. Finally, if you have many family members living in the U.S., authorities may find it harder to believe that you do not intend to stay.

Talk to Your Immigration Attorney Before Traveling

Sometimes a small innocent action can have big effects on immigration goals. To protect yourself, it is always a good idea to check with your immigration lawyer before international travel. At American Dream®™ Law Office, we help applicants take the right steps to get green cards. Contact us today to learn how we could help.

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