Can I travel on B-1/2 visa while I-130 is pending?

Travel on visitor visa with I-130 is pending

Your family member filed an I-130 immigration visa petition for you, and you are waiting for a quota to become a U.S. permanent resident, also known as a green card holder.

But before you get your green card, you may want to visit the United States for a short period of time.  Would the fact that someone has filed a green card application for you be a problem for you to travel to the United States?

The B-1/B-2 visitor visa is a type of temporary, non-immigrant visa that allows the visa holder to travel to the United States for temporary business or tourism purposes.  Normally people who enter with a B-1/B-2 visa will get a period allowed to stay for p to six months.

As the B-1/B-2 visa is a travel visa for temporary purposes, which is a non-immigrant visa, it does not allow immigrant intent.  Since you have an I-130 pending, the U.S. officials have good reason to suspect that you are coming to the US with immigrant intent.  

The government wants to make sure that you’re not taking advantage of the temporary visa as a way to enter the U.S. while having plans to stay permanently in mind.  It can be classified as visa fraud.  If they believe you have immigrant intent on the side of the B-1/B-2 visa, you will be denied the visa or entry.

What happens is that people with pending I-130 petitions face greater scrutiny when applying for a B-1/B-2 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate office.  On the same token, he or she faced greater risks to be denied entry by the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).  It may happen that you fly all the way to the U.S. and get turned back by CBP.

It may seem discouraging.  However, it is not impossible to enter the U.S. if you have an I-130 pending.  A lot of people have done that.

If you have a pending I-130, you may consider the following points when applying for B-1/B-2 visa or at the point of entry if you already have one in your passport.  These points may help you increase the chance to travel on a visitor visa when there is an I-130 pending.

Show Strong-Tie to Your Home Country

If you have a stong-tie with your home country, the government is more likely to believe that you will return home by the end of your allowed stay for your visitor’s visa.  

What is strong-tie with your home country, the official may look to a few things. For example, if you have family members, like your spouse or children in your home Country.  It is a strong tie.

If you have a decent job in your home country, it can be considered a strong tie.  If you own significant assets in your home country, such as real estate and other investments, it is helpful to build a case for strong tie.

To prove these ties, you can bring relevant documents. You can bring an employer letter stating your job position.  You can bring proof of real estate ownership and business to show that you will need to take care of those and so you return to your home country on time.

Explain the Reason for This Trip to the United States

If there is a good reason that you want to visit the United States at this particular time, you can provide the reason to the officers.

You may come to the United States for business reasons, for pure pleasure or travel, for medical reasons, or for a combination of more than one reasons

You can explain why you choose this time to make the visit, anyone you want to see in the United States, why you want to see him or her, and what you plan to do during the time you spend in the United States.

It is good that you can provide more detail of your plans and be specific.  You can consider preparing a written statement for those details.

Prepare the Documents In Support of The Reasons of Visiting

At the time you state the reasons for this visit, you can provide related documents to support your statement.   Look into your statement to see whether it relates to any reservation, invoice, payment receipts, news, etc . . . , that can support the facts in your statement.

Obtain a Letter from the Person or Business in the United States in regard to Your Visit

If a person or business invites to the United States, it is a good idea to have the person or business issue a letter saying that you are invited to visit the United States for certain purposes.  

It may be that a relative of yours invites you because he or she is getting married and that they want you to attend their wedding, or they want to go on a tour with you, or simply that they have not seen you for many years.

If you are going to visit the United States because of business, you can have the business write a letter in regard to your visit.  The letter can provide information about why you need to visit them.  It may be to see a product, negotiate a contract, or develop a new business relationship.  Be specific about the reason for the visit in the letter.

Present Itinerary and/or Return Airplane Ticket

You can prepare an itinerary of the dates and places that you plan to travel.  If there is an itinerary prepared by a travel agency, it can be offered to show your plan in the United States.  

In addition, the officer at the entry may expect to see a return airplane ticket with a return date on it.  That way the officer can be more certain that you plan to leave on that date.

Keep a Clean Record of All Visits to the United States

There are other factors that might affect either in your favor or against you. If you have visited the U.S. in the past and have a clean record of leaving by deadlines, that is a credit.  It adds points when you have a visa interview or at the entry checkpoint next time.

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