I am married to a person with a green card living in the USA. Will obtaining a visitor visa be beneficial to me? I read that someone on a visitor visa cannot change to immigrant status while visiting the USA. My ultimate aim is to live with my husband in the USA.

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    Has your husband looked into naturalization? As I understand it immigration rules for spouses of citizens are much more favorable than those for permanent residents. Aug 16 '20 at 14:08

Obtaining a visitor visa will likely be problematic. It is possible, however. Furthermore, it is not forbidden to adjust from visitor status to permanent resident status, but it is also problematic to do so.

In the second case, the problem lies not in the switch itself, but in the conditions for entering as a visitor. If you enter the US with the intention of applying for permanent residence then you do not fulfill the statutory requirements for entering as a visitor. (The possibility to adjust from visitor status to permanent residence exists for cases in which the traveler's intentions change after entering the US.) This means that you could be denied entry or, worse, accused of fraud or misrepresentation at the time of your admission to the US, which would result in a lifetime ban from the US.

The likely problem in obtaining a visitor visa follows from this: even spouses who legitimately seek to visit the US temporarily sometimes have trouble with it, because of the suspicion that they are trying to avoid the complexity and the waiting inherent in the process of applying for an immigrant visa.

In short, you should not apply for a visitor visa unless you genuinely intend to visit the US as a temporary nonimmigrant visitor.


As @phoog correctly notes, US immigration law contains many non-obvious and unexpected subtleties. As he points out, making the wrong choice now can have lifelong bad consequences. For example, while you could try to visit, visiting might prove disastrous for your future immigration possibilities if the consular officer reviewing your visa application, or CBP officer at entry if you get a visa, disbelieves your "I'm going to leave" statement.

Your situation contains several challenges. The best approach would be for your husband to consult with a lawyer in the the US who's well-versed in US immigration law before you attempt to visit or make any application to do so.

You will have a greater chance of success in your ultimate goal (joining your husband in the US) if you obtain expert advice now, before any irrevocable steps have been taken.

Source: I'm a retired lawyer.

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