070721 Thaikarl - the visa story in depth


here's the story on trying to get a tourist visa.  my short flaming spew i sent before was confusing, i know.

the setting:
Tok and I are getting married.  we could apply for a fiancee visa, which allows a foreigner to come to the united states for up to 90 days, during which time you must get married - or not.  no matter what, she/he must leave the country.  if you marry, you can then  apply  for immigrant status, with green card and all that.   the fiancee visa costs several hundred dollars and more importantly, takes 4 to 6 months to complete.  not fast enough, since we are to marry next spring.

so the next logical choice would be to get her a tourist visa.  just enough time to visit the united states, meet family and friends and have a little look around.  the immigration website states clearly that they consider anyone who wants to come to the US to be an immigrant- meaning you want to come to the USA to live and work.  (of course, if you are from a developed countries like Europe or japan, you are going to be just a tourist, you get a visa by just showing up.)  they state that you must prove to them that you have sufficient ties to your home country to ensure that you will go back.  we figured that we had all that covered: Tok is caring for a young daughter and an aged mother. she has property and employment.   we had documents and photos and everything to support this.  we thought that her having a fiancee in the USA would be a help- it would show that she has support there, a place to go and someone to look after her. i also thought that they would consider it favorable because we wouldn't want to screw up the tourist visa because it would make it unlikely that she could ever get an immigrant visa after we are married. 

sounds good yeah?  legitimate, honest and open. 


in their eyes, having a fiancee in the united states means that you want to go to the us to live with them, and are applying for a tourist visa just to get into the country, with no intention of going back.  the girl at the consulate counter even said that:  "i cannot issue a tourist visa to you because i believe you want to go to america to live with your fiancee"  and that was that.  that is why i said in the earlier email that as soon as i said i was her fiancee, i could tell the answer was NO.  for Tok to apply for a tourist visa under those circumstances would be truthful, but not the whole story - as she would like to visit the america.

I did talk with a local immigration lawyer a while back.  when i emailed him of our failed result he replied:

Dear Mr. Karl


For any consolation it may be, the officer really doesn't have any choice in the matter with an admission of a principal personal relationship with a US Citizen residing in the US. Under those circumstances it is virtually impossible for the applicant to overcome the statutory presumption of immigrant intent under INA section 214(b). I would wager that the denial sheet they gave you gave section 214(b) as the basis for denial, often expressed as "the applicant failed to demonstrate sufficiently strong ties to the home country.

so it wasn't the interviewers fault really, she was just following the rules.  yeah.

It would have been much better if Tok applied for a tourist visa all on her own.  no mention of a fiancee at all.  and i shouldn't have been with her.  if she went there and said she just wanted to visit america, see a few sights and come back, they would have looked at her property,  employment and band statement and determined (by whatever formula they have back there) if she had sufficient cause to return to thailand before the visa ran out.  while we were waiting, we watched and listened as many people went to the windows for their interviews.  the ones who walked away smiling and holding a green paper got their visa's.  there were all kinds of people, going for all sorts of reasons- visiting relatives, holiday, student trips etc.  most of them were seemingly successful. tho we did hear a few cases where they wanted more documentation of employment etc.

so, whatever.  it's not like its a whole lot easier to stay in thailand.  except that, anyone from a developed- meaning RICH country can just show up  at the airport and get an automatic 30 day stamp in their passport.  and as i've mentioned,  you could extend that for up to 5 months stay in total before you have to exit the country for 90 days.  used to be you could do a visa run every thirty days and stay in  thailand indefinitely.  but they got tired of that a few months ago and changed the rules.

oh well.

Nu and Tok

I am in southeast asia April 19 - July 20 2007 ::: http://thaikarl.blogspot.com/

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