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I am a Pakistani PhD student in Canada who has approximately $40k a year in funding. I have been here for two years and have visited the states for an academic conference on a visa. The same visa is also applicable to tourism.

My girlfriend, whom I met in Canada, is now moving to Colorado to begin medschool. I of course want to see her as regularly.

As a Pakistani, I expect to be question a lot when visiting the states. My ties in Canada are:

  • my PhD degree
  • my MS degree that I also earned here,
  • and my lease and car.

I understand not to volunteer information and to answer to the point. But what can I do to make this process simpler and convincing? My guess is repeated visits (~once every 2 months) to the same place will raise questions. I do not intend to stay for long periods - most commonly just a weekend and sometimes for 10 days. Month long visits are not a possibility for me.

Would repeated travel strengthen or weaken the probability of me being denied?

Note: This question is meant for normal times. Travelling now would just put people at risk of catching covid.

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This answer relates to a time when there are no extraordinary restrictions on travel, such as Covid19.

As a Pakistani citizen you are required to get a visa to visit the US. For the purposes you describe (visiting your girlfriend), at the frequency you describe (every couple of months for a few days at a time) a B2 visa is what you need. Be up front about your reasons for the visit in your application, and tell them frequency of visit you expect to make. Your proposed visit schedule is entirely reasonable, and the fact that she is your girlfriend not a serious disadvantage given your ties. It is possible that they may suspect you of trying to move to the US, but I doubt it. In any case a rejected visa is much better than being accused of deception on an application, which might happen if you try to conceal your relationship.

The US makes its own decisions on visas, but given the ties you have to Canada (a PhD course and a home lease), my opinion is that you should be able to get one, assuming there are no issues in your past. The frequency of visits is not excessive, and you seem to understand that you will not be attempting to live in the US.

Once you have received the visa you should be able to cross the border for the visits you describe with little trouble. In the current political climate being a Pakistani national will undoubtedly get you additional screening at the border, but once you have a valid visa they are very unlikely to deny you admittance. And with any luck the political climate will change in January 2021.

EDIT: You say that you have a five year B1/B2 visa obtained for an academic conference. A five year visa indicates that the US trusts you a lot, and a B1/B2 visa is valid for tourism and family/friend visits. You will have no trouble visiting the US as long as you keep your visits to the schedule you describe.

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  • Thank you. This is most encouraging. However, I already have a B2 visa through which I visited the US in January. During that visa interview, I was asked for my purpose and I mentioned that I would like to travel for academic conference. I did not ask for a 5-year visa but was graciously given one by the US. The visa type is "B1/B2". Given that I originally mentioned an academic conference as reason for travel, would it still be ok to travel on this to meet my girlfriend? Or would this raise questions? If so, how can I assuage such fears of an immigration officer. – saad Jul 22 '20 at 20:49
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    It would be perfectly OK. The fact that you were given a five year visa means they trust you a lot. That it's a B1/B2 means they explicitly allow tourism and family/friend visits. You may get a small amount of extra questioning the first time, but you don't get a five year visa unless they are happy for you to visit the US. Forget almost everything I said about secondary questioning. – DJClayworth Jul 22 '20 at 20:58
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    "And with any luck the political climate will change in January 2021." i.imgur.com/ponidjq.jpg predates Trump. – chx Jul 23 '20 at 5:18

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