I am an American and my partner is Australian. We've been together nearly a year, and we're coming to America so he can meet my family and see where I'm from. We planned for him to use the visa waiver for 90 days, then go to Canada for the weekend and return, assuming another 90 days would be granted.

We've found out this isn't an option, and we're wondering what a more long-term visitor visa option would be for him, so we can stay in the States longer than 90 days.

We've looked into the B2 visa, but that doesn't seem likely as there's no US consulate where we are (in Tasmania). Please let me know my options!

  • We are in a romantic relationship. – augu5t Apr 2 '18 at 9:08
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    From that I read 'romantic but not legal' which is about the hardest to get visa for. (As it will be assumed that your partner might want to overstay a visa to stay with you.) Is making the partnership legal an option? – Willeke Apr 2 '18 at 9:14

As you've said, attempting to do a "visa run" to another country will almost certainly not work. There are specific rules for Canada (and Mexico and some other nearby countries), but even if he was to go to another country then he would most likely be refused entry on returning to the US.

The ONLY option for staying in the US for more than 90 days is to apply for a visa.

However given your circumstances, it's very possible that a visa would NOT be approved. The US frequently refuses visa applications from people from Visa Waiver Program countries, unless they have a specific need that requires them to stay in the US for more than 90 days. The fact you are a US citizen doesn't necessarily help his case here, as it could be seen as you moving back to the US and him living there with you.

If he does apply for a visa and it is refused then you unfortunately may end up in a far worse spot than you are in now, as he will need to declare this visa rejection when applying for an ESTA to use the Visa Waiver Program, which may lead to his ESTA not being approved meaning he can not travel to the US under the VWP (See https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1097/~/previously-denied-a-visa-or-immigration-benefit)

Your best option might be to reach out to an immigration lawyer who will be able to provide the best option - be that risking applying for a visa, staying only for <90 days, or potentially getting married at which point he would be able to apply for a visa as your spouse.

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    To the best of my knowledge there is not currently a rule saying that having had a visa application refused will disqualify someone from using the VWP. Can you reference such a rule (the actual legal text, not just a website somewhere which claims it exists)? – hmakholm left over Monica Apr 1 '18 at 19:05
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    @HenningMakholm Fair point - it's not exactly black-and-white. I've softened the wording a little, and added a reference to the CBP website which backups up my statement ("will most likely be denied") – Doc Apr 2 '18 at 1:17
  • thank you for this response, i think we will go with the VWP for 90 days. if we want to come back again, in the near future, after the 90 days.. what are his options then? – augu5t Apr 2 '18 at 9:09

Assuming that your partner is coming for a visit (and not intending to immigrate) then the correct course of action in your case is to apply for a B2 visa. This might require you to travel to a US embassy on the Australian mainland.

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