What to do when a foreign fiance simply wants to transit through the U.S. going to another country? The question is whether a U.S. border agent will allow transit where the foreigner is engaged to a U.S. citizen.
What to do when a foreign fiance simply wants to transit through the U.S. going to another country. The foreigner must have a visa since he or she will clear U.S. immigration during transit (unless coming under the visa waiver program, or VWP). The question is whether a U.S. border agent will allow transit where the foreigner is engaged to a U.S. citizen. Here is an example of a couple who reside in Guatemala doing missionary work and the foreigner has an R religious worker visa.
My fiancé and I are booking tickets for “travel” in December (really for our honeymoon – but since we won’t be legally married in Guatemala until after we come back we’ll just call it a trip). My question is will it be o.k. if we fly through the USA on our way to Europe (we’ll have to go through customs in Houston, the fly on to Madrid and when we come back we’ll fly from Madrid into LA). He will have a letter from a church in California where he’s going to speak in Dec. Do you think this will be o.k. with his R Visa?
Michelle, Travel in December will likely be fine, but the risk of a problem is significant. There is about a 85% chance of clearing U.S. immigration without incident. Now that you are engaged there is an inherent risk of overstay in the U.S. Once he clears immigration there is no guaranty he would transfer flights. It is up to your fiancé to show he is a low risk. Here is how to help improve chances of success.
Since you are not married, there is no need that he mention your relationship to an immigration border agent. You should clear through the American line and he should clear through the foreigner line. He simply should indicate he is transiting and hope he is not pulled aside and interrogated. He does not need to volunteer information about your relationship, but he should not shy away from discussing it if asked about a girlfriend, fiancee or spouse. His answers must be honest. Even if he admits he is dating an American there is a low risk of overstay in transition because he wants to be with you in Guatemala, not in the U.S.
You both should have documentation showing you live in Guatemala. If there is a problem, you can somehow try to get involved to show your documents.
There is also the possibility that a border agent can solve the problem by issuing on the spot a C1-D transit status which would prevent him from remaining in the U.S. when his stay on the C1-D expires.
Altogether, I think he should be o.k. to transfer and it should be acceptable to route your travels through the U.S. if there is no other easy (cheap) way to travel to Spain from Guatemala without transiting through the U.S.
Upon your return to the U.S. from Europe, he simply needs to be open and honest and see if they let him in. If not, then he will be put on a flight back to Guatemala. Try and purchase ticket that can be changed if necessary for a small fee. I hope this information helps.