When we assist couples or families with the I-130 petition and consular processing, or the K-1 fiancée visa, clients often ask if the foreign national family member can enter the US to visit while the petition is in process, or while waiting for the consular processing portion of the process to play out. Our answer is a typical lawyer answer: it depends!
If the foreign national spouse/family member already has a valid visitor’s visa stamped in his/her passport, he/she can try to enter the US for a temporary visit while waiting for a green card. After the visit, the foreign national should return home and process the immigrant visa (or K-1 visa) at the US consulate there, as originally planned. If the foreign national spouse/family member plans travel to the US, they should carry with them evidence of their plans to return home, such as a return ticket, as well as documentation that they must return to their job/schooling, that they maintain a residence there, etc. The officer at the port of entry may or may not review the documentation. Also keep in mind that a foreign national is never guaranteed to be admitted to the US, even if they have a valid visa. This is especially true if they are entering with an I-130 or I-129F petition in process or approved. That being said, it is absolutely critical to tell the truth at all times when dealing with immigration officers. Finally, keep in mind that your pattern of travel may make a difference in whether the officer admits you to the US, and if so, for how long. If you have entered the US several times and/or have stayed in the US the maximum time allowed (or close to it), these details may affect your chances of being admitted again.
If the foreign national does not have a valid visa, they would need to obtain a visa to enter the US (assuming a visa is required). Unfortunately if the I-130 petition or other immigrant petition has already been filed, it is highly unlikely that a B1/B2 visitor’s visa would be approved. In that case, the couple or family may need to meet in the foreign national’s home country or another country to visit, while the immigrant visa (or K-1 visa) process plays out.
We certainly understand that being separated during the green card process can be difficult for couples and families who cannot wait to be reunited. The Sumner Immigration Law team works hard to streamline the process as much as possible to shorten the time apart. However, families should plan visits carefully to make sure to adhere to current immigration rules and procedures, and to minimize the chance of being denied entry into the US.
Current Sumner Immigration Law clients, please always contact us before arranging for travel so we can advise you according to your specific situation. As always, this information is for educational purposes only and cannot be relied on as legal advice. Please consult with a qualified attorney if you are not sure how entering the US would affect your case.
Do you need assistance with a family-based or employment-based immigration matter? Please contact our office at 804-396-3412 or at email@example.com to learn how we can assist. We look forward to hearing from you!