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About me:

I have worked as a freelance developer (sole proprietor) in the crypto space for the past about a year. In these 12 months I've worked with only one client that pays me well and is based out of the US. My proprietorship has been registered for the last 3-4 months only, and before this I was working as a natural person. Prior to the freelance work, I held jobs in a couple of Indian data analytics companies for 5 years.

About my fiancé:

Pursuing a STEM master's degree in a good US university on an F-1 visa. Her course will get over in May 2023.

My options:

  1. We are getting married in December 2022 and I will be eligible for an F-2 visa post that. Is it advisable to take this route? My concerns with this option:
  • Only one semester of her master's degree study will remain. Will a visa officer give me an F-2 for such a short duration?
  • What are the chances of getting an F-2 visa anyway? Are visa officials inclined to not give F-2 visas to ensure that the F-1 visa holder eventually returns to their home country?
  1. Get a B-1/B-2 tourist visa; the purpose of visit would be to visit my friends in the US. Concerns:
  • Indians aren't getting appointments till 2024 for this visa type. However, there are rumours that some slots will open up later this year.
  • I've heard that my age, nationality and job are all not favourable in the eyes of visa officials (for tourist visas)
  1. Get a B-1 visa; the purpose of visit would be to meet my client and attend a conference in the US. Concerns:
  • Since my client is in the US, this is genuine. There are many reasons for me to meet the team I work with and many conferences I should attend in the US. But this client work will take a maximum of one week. Will a B-1 visa allow me to stay with my fiance for a few more weeks/months post that?
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    Under Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), applicants are presumed to be intending immigrants unless they credibly demonstrate, to the consular officer’s satisfaction, that their economic, family, and social ties outside the United States are strong enough that they will depart at the end of their authorized stay. How would you convince them of that if you applied for a visitor visa?
    – Traveller
    Aug 21, 2022 at 13:49
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    "will a visa officer give me an F2 for such a short duration?" Yes, if you can overcome the presumption of immigrant intent.
    – phoog
    Aug 21, 2022 at 15:43
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    I don't suppose pushing up the wedding date is a possibility? Or even holding 2 weddings, 1 in each country? (The US one could be just at a courthouse for the documentation, while the India one would be the "real" wedding.) I know someone who did almost the reverse - he married his current wife first in India, unofficially, and then officially in the US. (Neither is Indian, they were visiting India for a friend's wedding, who is Indian, so they made it a double wedding.) Aug 22, 2022 at 13:55
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    What is the nationality of your fiancé? Also Indian? Something else?
    – reirab
    Aug 23, 2022 at 4:43
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    What do you mean by "crypto"? Cryptography (computer and/or network security) or cryptocurrency? "crypto space" suggests cryptocurrency. Aug 23, 2022 at 11:10

3 Answers 3

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I don't think there's any visa that will let you work in the US for a period of several months without working for a US employer that is willing to apply for a visa on your behalf.

The F2 and B visas do not allow work. Traveling to the US for business meetings is allowed on (and indeed the very purpose of) B1 status, and while you're unlikely to run into trouble if you do remote work for a day or two while otherwise engaged in allowed activity, the same does not apply if you plan to stay for several months with no other visible means of support.

If your US client is willing to hire you as a full-time employee and apply for a visa on that basis, that would be a path forward.

I'm sure that this answer is not what you want to hear, but unfortunately it is the reality of the US immigration system at the present time.

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    "If your US client is willing to hire you as a full-time employee and apply for a visa on that basis, that would be a path forward." and just TBC, that is incredibly difficult, takes a year, takes thousands or even tens of thousands in legal fees, and - in the specific case described - there's zero chance it would happen. (If - why? - the company in question for some reason tried to help with this scheme, their lawyers would just laugh and say "well it won't work.")
    – Fattie
    Aug 22, 2022 at 15:59
  • @Fattie i agree with you that it's a difficult and slow road with less than certain chances of success, but e.g. an H1B or maybe L visa is not out of the question in the circumstances described if everyone wants to go for it. a qualified immigration attorney would definitely be needed.
    – mlc
    Aug 22, 2022 at 16:03
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    I'm afraid I disagree, in the specific case, as of writing, there's just literally no chance. I'm afraid that's my opinion based on experience. (Just TBC my company has often, specifically, been involved in software folks moving from India to, or coming for extended periods, to the US.) {Thus for example, I have literally been the theoretical person where my immigration attorney was laughing at me and saying "Good one, that will never work" :) :) }
    – Fattie
    Aug 22, 2022 at 16:10
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    H1b may potentially work if the OP is lucky enough, but will take at least a year++ for the OP to be able to arrive to the US on it. L will not work, can't see how.
    – littleadv
    Aug 22, 2022 at 17:51
  • @Fattie why is there zero chance for H1B/L to work in my case?
    – Deep
    Aug 24, 2022 at 8:00
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Unfortunately, the more 'portable' you are, the more likely you are to be refused a visa. The authorities will demand sufficient evidence that:

  1. You can support yourself for the duration of your visit.
  2. You will return at the end of the visit.

Having some family and assets is good, but it is not as if your business is tied to physical objects in India. For that matter, some skepticism may even attach to the crypto space at this time.

Note that since an F2 does not permit employment, and working in any fashion, no matter who is paying you, counts as employment, you will have to show available assets sufficient to cover the entire visit. You might even be asked to explain how your business will survive for the long period of time that you will not be working.

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  • Could F2 work if i say i only want to visit for 1 month? Would they find it reasonable for us to want to spend a month together after marriage while I take leave from my client work?
    – Deep
    Aug 24, 2022 at 8:02
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The simple answer is just get an ordinary B1 visa. And of course, you can stay for a week or two longer, to visit friends, see the Grand Canyon, or whatever.

The basic problem you're facing is that you're trying to stretch a week to apparently "months".

The extremely short answer is unfortunately, it will never happen.

If India was a visa waiver country, it would be no problem, as you know.

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    @Voo why is it gray? No, employment is not allowed on B1. Nothing gray there.
    – littleadv
    Aug 22, 2022 at 17:53
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    @littleadv You're explicitly allowed to have business meetings on a B1 visa. Clearly preparing a presentation or looking through code or adapting code for such a presentation is fine. Writing down notes after the actual meeting also certainly fine. Hence there's some grey area where you could argue you're having your business meetings. Certainly less than "several weeks" though.
    – Voo
    Aug 22, 2022 at 18:37
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    @Voo "does it also cover working on your own several weeks for the same client?" - no, it doesn't. You can prepare for the presentation without being in the US, and taking notes doesn't take weeks, or even days.
    – littleadv
    Aug 22, 2022 at 18:51
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    @Voo absolutely not. There is no "gray". You ABSOLUTELY can not do that.
    – Fattie
    Aug 23, 2022 at 16:05
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    @Voo I usually am able to finish my notes on the day of the meeting. And I have had cases where I wrapped up stuff from a visit in an airport lounge or on a plane. Once the meeting ended - you don't need to physically be in a location, even if you still need to continue work. While ICE is not going to chase you out of a boardroom, your justification is definitely not a reasonable one for overstay beyond what's actually needed for a physical presence.
    – littleadv
    Aug 23, 2022 at 16:11

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