Enter The US On Visitor Visa While I-130 Pending
Waiting for your spouse visa to be approved is bad enough, but often times it’s hard for the foreign spouse to visit the US at all. Entering the US on visitor visa while I-130 pending can be next to impossible.
Why? It’s because you already have an intent to immigrate to the United States.
To get a visitor visa, you must show that you intend to only visit American and have no intentions to set up camp and live there. Think about it, you are already showing your intention to live permanently in the U.S. bu filing form I-130, right?
In my own case, while my I-129F fiance petition was pending, I didn’t bother visiting my fiance at the time because I was worried that I’d be turned away at the port of entry.
Sure, I didn’t need to apply for a visa but it would still be up to Customer and Border Protection (CBP) to allow me entry.
Kate and Kobo got married 4 months ago in Kenya. They have since filed for the I-130 petition and have been waiting for 6 months for approval. Kobo decides to apply for a visitor visa so he can visit his wife in the US since she can’t take time off of work.
He goes to US embassy and apply for the visitor visa and he is scheduled for his interview. At the interview, the consular officers reviews his case and denies his visitor visa application because of his intent to immigrate to the US.
In this case, because Kobo is married to a US citizen and has a pending I-130 petition he will need to include lots of evidence that he will return to his home country before the visa expires.
If you’re goal is to get approved for a visitor visa while I-130 pending, try to include as much evidence of your ties back home.
Are You Eligible For A Visitor Visa With Pending I-130?
The main requirement to be approved for a visitor visa to the US is to prove you have no “intent” to immigrate to the US. A visitor visa is a temporary admission into the country for tourism reasons and you are expected to go back home before the visa expires.
So, there’s the dilemma you’re in…
You want to apply for a nonimmigrant visitor visa but already have an immigrant visa pending. Basically, you need to prove you have no intention on living in the US permanently when you have already shown that you intend to move to the US to be with your spouse.
So how do you overcome this?
Well, here’s what the US consulate is looking for:
- Plan to stay in the US temporarily.
- Have strong ties to your home country.
- You can financially pay for your trip to the US.
Those are the three criteria that will convince the immigration officers that you will not try to stay in the US illegally before your I-130 petition is approved.
Layla was petitioned for by her husband Philip. She lives in Ghana and has never visited the US before. She wants to visit her husband before the I-130 petition is approved but she doesn’t have enough evidence of her ties to her come country.
She can’t provide a lease or mortgage in her name because she lives with family. She isn’t currently working or going to school and she has no children she would be leaving behind if she visited the US.
Layla is considered high risk of staying in the US and adjusting status since she is married to a US citizen. The consular officer denies her application because he believes she has immigrant intent and has no reason to travel back to Ghana when the visitor visa expires.
In the example above, Layla doesn’t have enough ties to Ghana which means she will have a tough time getting approved for the visitor visa to the US.
How To Apply For Visitor Visa With Pending I-130
Applying for a B1/B2 is somewhat similar to the spouse visa petition you’ve just submitted. Of course, it’s not exactly the same because you are now applying for temporary nonimmigrant visa versus the spouse visa.
Visitor Visa Application Checklist:
- DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application
- MRV fee receipt
- Passport photo
- Evidence that your trip will be temporary
- Evidence that you will return home after the visit
- Proof you can financially afford the trip
- Proof that you have returned home with previous visas
Step 1: Complete Online Form DS-160
This is a multi-page online form found on https://ceac.state.gov/ website. Be sure to complete the form correctly because once you submit it, you can’t make any changes to it if there are mistakes.
After you sign and submit the online form, print the receipt page to bring to the interview.
The consulate or embassy that you are applying from will provide you with instructions on how to pay the machine-readable visa (MRV) fee. Once you pay the fee online, be sure to print the receipt and bring it with you to the visitor visa interview.
Step 2: Submit Supporting Evidence for Your Case
This is probably the biggest factor in getting approved for the visitor visa while I-130 pending. Remember, you can’t really submit TOO much evidence.
The type of evidence you want to include should show that you plan on going back home. Try to include the following:
- Bank statements with recent activity
- Rental agreement/mortgage document
- Tuition payment/school enrollment
Step 3: Attend the Visa Interview at the US Consulate or Embassy
After you’ve filled out the forms and submitted the supporting evidence, it’s time for the visa interview!
This is where you want to make a good impression on the consular officer. What I mean by this is be polite and respectful. Answer all of their questions honestly but don’t provide more information than they ask for.
The interview can make or break your visitor visa application.
Alfonzo had his American wife apply for the I-130 petition and he wants to visit her while he waits for the approval. Alfonzo has previously visited the US and has always returned to his home country.
He submitted the visitor visa application with plenty of evidence of his ties to Czech Republic. At his interview, the consular officer was interested in his previous visits to the US and asked him several questions which he answered successfully. Alfonzo has a business in his country that he still owns and runs which was a huge benefit on the visitor visa application.
Alfonzo was approved for the visitor visa and he was able to spend time with his wife before his spouse visa was approved.
In this case, Alfonzo has a business that he runs as well as active bank accounts and other types of evidence. This shows the consular officer that will likely return to his home country instead of staying permanently in the US.
Immigration Violations That Can Deny You A Visitor Visa
If one thing is guaranteed to get your visitor visa denied while you have a pending I-130 petition, it’s a previous visa overstay. If you received a visitor visa in the past and didn’t leave on time, kiss your shot at a new visitor visa goodbye.
In this case, just wait for the I-130 petition to be approved as well as the CR1 spouse visa. You will likely need to explain this prior visa overstay but don’t work, it shouldn’t be a cause for denial of your spouse visa.
Another problem that can come up is if you’ve visited a country that the US deems to be on the terrorist watch list. Yes, it’s true that an entire country can be considered “terrorism threat”.
Visiting these countries can make getting a visitor visa difficult:
- North Korea
Final Thoughts On Visitor Visa While I-130 Pending
Although it’s not impossible for you to get a visitor visa while I-130 pending, it can be difficult. The main risk that you are taking is spending the money to apply for the visitor visa and then being denied.
If you want to give it shot and aren’t worried about the visa fees, go for it! Be sure to provide as much evidence of your ties to your home country and financial standing as possible.
In my case, I didn’t want to spend money on a flight if I was going to be denied at customs. I didn’t even have to apply for a visitor visiting since I was coming from Canada but I was really worried about being denied at the border.
So if you really want a visitor visa while I-130 pending and believe you have enough evidence, follow the steps above to apply and hopefully get approved for the visa.