Obtaining a tourist visa may seem impossible, especially if you have family in the United States or have an approved Immigrant Visa petition. However, with the right documents and proper preparation, visiting the U.S. is still very possible.
For years Maria dreamed of visiting the United States. However, she believed that her chances of being granted a tourist visa were pretty slim due to the fact that she has numerous close family members living in the U.S. and an approved immigrant visa petition from a U.S. employer. Maria, whose name has been changed for confidentiality reasons, thought that it would be nearly impossible for her to obtain a tourist visa at the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, as she heard many stories from family and friends who time after time were denied tourist visas.
To be eligible for a B-2 tourist visa, a noncitizen must demonstrate that they have a foreign residence that they have no intention of abandoning, and that they will only be visiting the U.S. temporarily for tourism or pleasure. The burden is on the visa applicant to show they do not have “immigrant intent” – that is, their visit to the U.S. will be only temporary. In determining whether to grant the visa, consular officers look at a variety of factors including whether the applicant has stable employment in their home country, a family and a home to which they can return, and sufficient funds to support their temporary stay in the U.S. While Maria had many favorable factors in her case, she also had numerous adverse factors that could lead an officer to conclude she had immigrant intent.
Several years ago Maria applied for a job with a U.S. employer who subsequently filed an employment-based petition on her behalf. The employment-based petition was approved, but for various reasons Maria was unable to immigrate to the U.S. at that time and she remained in the Philippines. Even though Maria had long abandoned her plan to immigrate to the U.S. to work for that employer, the approved petition still remained in her immigration record and was available for a consular officer to see and use as potential support for a finding of immigrant intent. In addition to the approved employment-based petition, Maria also has numerous family members living in the U.S., including U.S. citizen parents and siblings – other factors that would heavily weigh against her in being granted a tourist visa. Maria was also hesitant to apply for a tourist visa as both her children had previously applied for tourist visas and were ultimately denied after being told by the consular officer that their applications had been denied because their mother had an approved immigrant visa petition.
Despite all of the above, Maria was not willing to give up her dream of visiting the U.S. She contacted Reeves Immigration Law Group (RILG) to see if she had any chance at obtaining a tourist visa. The attorneys at RILG explained that obtaining a tourist visa was possible, but that she would need to submit a very detailed application with supporting documents and make sure she was thoroughly prepared for the visa interview. Tired of being unable to visit friends and family members in the U.S., Maria retained RILG to assist her in her tourist visa application.
The team at RILG guided Maria through the entire visa application process step-by-step, from document collection and review, to completion of application forms, to thorough preparation for the visa interview. Not only did Maria have a complete application packet and strong documentation, but she went into the visa interview well-prepared and with confidence. After so many years filled with doubt and uncertainty as to whether she would ever get to visit the U.S., Maria’s dream finally became a reality. Her tourist visa application was approved, and Maria will now be able to use her B-1/B-2 visa to come to the U.S. multiple times over the next 10 years.
While it may seem like obtaining a tourist visa should be a relatively painless task, obtaining one at a consular post where there are historically high rates of denials (China, Mexico, and the Philippines), is definitely not easy. Heightened screening and vetting of applications for visas and other immigration benefits has been underway for the past several months and has made it even more difficult to obtain visas. However, as Maria’s story shows, with competent immigration counsel and the right preparation, obtaining a tourist visa is not impossible even with multiple adverse factors. Maria is now able to finally visit her loved ones in the U.S. after so many years and is looking forward to the wonderful memories they will make during her temporary visit.