Dangers of Misuse of a Tourist Visa
I often get ideas for article topics from cases I am working on, inquiries from prospective clients or past cases. I recently received a call from a prospective client about an important immigration issue that I have encountered several times in the last five years. The common situation involves a U.S. citizen who has a spouse or significant other who is a foreign national and does not have lawful permanent residency in the U.S. but spends at least half of her time in the U.S. with her spouse or significant other. The foreign national usually has a multiple-entry tourist visa which she uses to enter the U.S. Generally, what happens is that a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer becomes suspicious because the foreign national is coming and going from the U.S. with such regularity. This typically will prompt the CBP officer to place the foreign national in secondary inspection where she is further interrogated. During the interrogation it is discovered that the foreign national spends more time in the U.S. than in her home country. The CBP officer then concludes that the foreign national is violating the terms of her visa because she is essentially living in the U.S. and therefore has immigrant intent. At that point the foreign national is either placed in expedited removal proceedings or allowed to withdraw her application for admission and is sent back to her home country.
The Visitor Visa and Its Limitations
The immigration law of the United States presumes that anyone presenting themselves at the U.S. Border is an intending immigrant unless they are classified in one of the non-immigrant classifications. One of those non-immigrant classifications is a visitor. U.S. Law defines a visitor as:
An alien...having a residence in a foreign country which he has no intention of abandoning and who is visiting the U.S. temporarily for business or temporarily for pleasure.
Thus, in order to qualify as a visitor a foreign national must be able to show that: 1) They have a residence abroad which they don't plan to leave; and 2) That there visit in the U.S. Will only be temporary and for a permissible purpose. A visitor visa does not allow a foreign national to establish a second or alternate residence in the U.S., attend school in the U.S., or work in the U.S.
We Can Help Get Relief from a 5 Year Bar
We regularly assist clients apply for and obtain consent to reapply for admission after being ordered removed through expedited removal proceedings. These cases are complex and require a very thorough and compelling presentation of the law and facts. Please contact us if you would like us to evaluate your case or if you would like assistance with your I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission.
Harsh Consequences for Visitor Visa Violators
Many unsuspecting visitor visa holders are quite surprised when they learn about the harsh consequences that result from violating the terms of a visitor visa. U.S. Immigration law provides for the “expedited removal of inadmissible arriving aliens.” In plain language this means that a foreign national attempting to enter the U.S. (even with a visa) can be immediately removed and sent back to their home country if they are found inadmissible. This law also provides that foreign nationals who are found to be inadmissible and removed through expedited removal proceedings cannot return to the U.S. For at least five years (the penalty is 20 years for a second removal.) In cases which involve facts similar to those discussed above, the CPB officer may place the foreign national under oath and interrogate him about the purpose of his trip and his intentions. Frequently, the officer finds that the foreign national is inadmissible as an intending immigrant and places the foreign national in expedited removal proceedings. In some cases, if the CBP officer is in a good mood, he may allow the foreign national to withdraw his application for admission and return home with no order of removal.
Relief for Those Removed
Because in many cases the person removed is a spouse or significant other of a U.S. Citizen it can be an extreme hardship for them not to be able to travel to the U.S. For five years or more. Fortunately, there is an avenue to seek relief from the five year bar. A foreign national who has been ordered removed may file an application seeking permission to reapply for admission prior to the conclusion of the five year bar.
Tips for Visitor Visa Holders
Those who frequently travel to the U.S. To visit a significant other need to be aware of the strict rules that govern their admission as a visitor. Any time a person holding a visitor visa travels to the U.S. They should be prepared to establish that they have a permanent residence in their home country that they do not intent to relinquish and that the purpose of their trip to the U.S. Is of a temporary nature. Here are a few things that can be useful to establish this:
- Evidence of a job in your home country
- Evidence of ownership or lease of home or apartment
- Evidence of family who remain in your home country