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The B2 Visa gets a Make-Over but the Visa Process Still Looks the Same

b2visa.jpegThe U.S. State Department has added yet another use for the B2 visa, announcing that it would now be used for parents of minors who have received an F-1 student visa, which is a victory for many immigration attorney who have been fighting for the change. This new designation of the B2 will allow parents to travel with their children to the U.S. This is a bit of a departure from the previous use of the B2, which was used to travel to the U.S. by members of the household of a person who is in the U.S. with a long-term non-immigrant status. In this vein the B2 has been used by elderly parents or domestic partners of non-immigration students, diplomats and temporary workers.

Those who obtain the B1 visa under the new guidelines will be granted an initial stay period of up to 1 year, with extensions of up to six months afterwards. The total amount of time permissible in the U.S. will equal the time to be spent by the minor they are accompanying. For example, if they are accompanying a child who will spend four years at a learning institution, the parent will be able to stay for up to four years as well.

One of the major challenges to obtaining the B2 visa is proving to officials that the petitioner does not intend to stay in the United States past the time frame of their visa. This can be more difficult than it may seem because the consulate agents who review the visa requests are instructed to take a “guilty until proven innocent” approach. They will only approve visas for those people who have successfully proven that they have sufficient family, culture, economic, or other kinds of ties which would compel their return to their home country.

In the case of the new use for the B2 visa the situation can become complicated rather quickly. Not only will the parent have to prove their intent, but the visa of the child, the F-1 education visa, may also be doubly scrutinized for any violations or unlawful intent. These kinds of practices may serve to limit the number of parents which seek to take advantage of the new opportunity out of fear that their application may not only be declined by may also damage or revoke the visa that the child has already been granted. Whether this will actually be the case remains to be seen.

Parents who come to the U.S. under the new B2 visa designation will not gain the right to work in the United States. This limitation means that the parent will have to prove that they will be able to support themselves for the entire duration of their stay without holding a job in the States. Only those who have substantial cash reserves or some kind of periodic allowance, such as a pension residual income, will be able to meet that kind of burden. Ultimately it may be more profitable for the parent to apply for a visa which will allow them to work.

This new designation of the B2 visa is certainly welcome, though not entirely helpful. Those looking for a way to legally stay in the United States are still often fighting an uphill batter. If you, or anyone you know, needs help with a visa situation, contact the Austin immigration attorney at Lyttle Law Firm by calling 512-215-5225.