A J visa is a cultural exchange visa granted for various reasons. The J visa is commonly granted to certain foreigners who have academic distinction or other talents or to foreign college students who work at summer jobs, such as in our National Parks. It can also be used by au pairs working for families in the U.S.
Will wants to marry when his fiancee arrives in the U.S. on a J-visa.
Hi, my girlfriend in Thailand is about to arrive in the United States around June on a work / travel visa for the Au Pair program. We plan on getting married while she’s here. My question is would we still apply for the fiance visa, or a different process is needed because she is already here in the states? Her work / travel visa is for 1 year. Also, because she is in the U.S. what different process and requirement is needed in order to get married? Thank you!
Will, Thank you for your inquiry. Please do not tell her of your plans. The only way for her to obtain a J Visa and use that visa to enter the U.S. is if she honestly and openly asserts she has no interest in remaining in the U.S. when her stay on the J visa comes to an end. If she plans on remaining in the U.S. is caught not telling the truth to an immigration officer, she can be barred from the U.S. Misrepresentation is a fraud and is grounds for a permanent bar, married or not.
Beware that immigration officers are trained to check emails, Facebook and so forth to determine her intentions. This can happen at anytime, including right at the border when passing inspection. When you communicate with your fiancee please do not set plans for her to remain in the U.S. since that is not the purpose for the J visa.
It will be important to check to make sure the J visa does not have a two-year home restriction. About ½ the J visas require that she depart the U.S. and remain in Thailand for 2 years once her time in the U.S. has ended. Most of the au pair jobs will not have that J visa restriction, so she is likely o.k. A good way to check would be to look at the bottom of her J visa and see whether section 212(e) applies or not.
You are welcome to call me if you like to discuss her choices. Normally, she should depart the U.S. and return on the proper visa, either a fiancee or spousal visa. It can be possible to keep her in the U.S. – if it is safe to do so. Safety is the most important consideration. Please do not assume immigration officers are concerned about your relationship. Most officers take their work seriously. You have the burden of proving proper intentions on the J visa. The government is not required to prove anything. They just listen and make a decision. If they do not like what they hear, they can deny a marriage Green Card. You need to be careful how you both proceed.