When you apply for a nonimmigrant (temporary) visa, an adjudicating officer will generally deny your application if they believe you intend on moving to the U.S. permanently. As such, you typically need to prove that you have a residence in your country of origin that you have no intention of abandoning.
The stronger ties you have to your relatives, employment, financial interests, and other factors in your country of origin, the more likely the U.S. will believe that you will leave the U.S. when your nonimmigrant visa expires (rather than staying unlawfully).
A dual intent nonimmigrant visa, however, allows you to hold two opposing intentions:
- To visit the U.S. temporarily; and
- To become a permanent resident of the United States.
Essentially, a dual intent visa allows you to obtain nonimmigrant status even though you intend to apply for a green card at some point during your stay.
There is only a handful of dual intent visas, including:
- The K-1 visa. This is the “fiancé(e) visa,” and a U.S. citizen can use it to bring their foreign-citizen fiancé(e) to the United States to live with them permanently. While the K-1 visa grants only 90 days of status, it allows the foreign citizen to adjust their status to permanent residence on the condition that the couple marries in the United States within those 90 days.
- H-1B, O-1, and L-1 visas. These are employment-based nonimmigrant visas (for specialty workers, extraordinarily individuals, and intracompany transferees, respectively). The U.S. government generally expects qualifying employers to sponsor these visa holders for lawful permanent residence, but a visa holder must intend to leave the U.S. voluntarily if their adjustment of status process fails and their temporary visa expires.
- E-2 visa. The E-2 visa allows investors from treaty countries to obtain nonimmigrant status while they complete their investment and other commercial activities with a U.S. business. Before adjusting their status, however, they must file Form I-508, Waiver of Rights, Exemptions and Immunities. Consult with a professional to determine whether giving up your rights in relation to the treaty trader program may adversely affect your interests.
If your goal is to become a lawful permanent resident while you are in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, you will likely need to select one of the above visas and retain the support of a seasoned attorney. The process requires care, knowledge, and precision, and even the smallest mistakes can result in a denied application.
Is It Possible to Adjust Your Status from a Non-Dual Intent Visa?
If your nonimmigrant visa does not allow for dual intent, you may still be able to adjust your status to permanent residence. However, this process is tricky, as you will need to fully intend to leave the U.S. after a limited amount of time.
When evaluating your non-dual intent visa application, an adjudicating officer will generally consider the following:
- Personal, familial, social, and/or cultural ties in each country
- Employment or financial ties in each country
- Homes, vehicles, bank accounts, and other assets or investments in each country
- Any previous efforts to visit or move to the U.S.
- Past immigration violations
If the adjudicating officer believes you are applying for a nonimmigrant visa even though you ultimately want to become a permanent resident, they may accuse you of fraud (intentional misrepresentation), which could prevent you from ever qualifying for a visa. If you are concerned about how the U.S. government may interpret your intentions, you will greatly benefit from support and guidance from an experienced professional.
Bring Your Case to Our Dedicated Team
Whether your goal is to visit the U.S. or move here permanently, our attorneys at Kanu & Associates, P.C. can help you prepare your applications with the utmost care. Navigating the immigration system can be an enormous undertaking, but we have years of experience helping individuals, families, and businesses obtain the benefits and statuses they need to accomplish their legal and personal goals.