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I've been browsing this site and reading up on tourist visas, I'm trying to help my long-distance boyfriend get a tourist visa to America to visit with me for maybe like a month or two. I video chat with him every day and have been doing so for a few years but it's not the same as visiting in person. I visited him last year (for a week) in a country he moved to but I worry that he might have issues getting to America (Perhaps moreso with the politics of right now).

I don't have as much time to visit him this year (I work full time + I'm in school, I would take a break from school if he visits though). He has a temporary residency in the country he moved to, he works there for the same company he has worked for a while in his home country. He doesn't have strong ties to the country since he hasn't been there long (just a few months), nor does he make a lot of money. I plan on moving to his current country later, but it would be great if he could visit this year before I move internationally so I can show him what my life was like and how America is and he can meet my family a bit etc. I'm fine with helping to sponsor his trip and he can stay with me and my family to save money but there isn't a lot to prove he has strong ties to his current country besides his apartment, bank account, and job. Is that enough? I heard visiting other countries helps and buying property. I would consider buying property in his current country and maybe putting it under both our names (considering I'd like to move there...but neither of us knows the language of that country yet so I'm wary of buying stuff just yet, besides the fact I don't plan on moving for a little while...At least his country is waaaay cheaper to live in so it's a much smaller investment than here, for example, about two months' salary is enough for some decent property over there!)

What else can I do to help him increase his odds? Do visa paid services increase the odds of success? I can help pay for a 3rd party visa service. I'm not made of money though, I have a lot of medical work I need done this year too so I'm trying to avoid spending unless I really have too. I know visa wise it's way way easier for me to visit him since I'm an American, but I have a lot on my plate right now. Neither of us have much experience with visas. I want to improve his chances as much as possible hence why I'm asking for advice.

Update to Comments: Yes, he speaks English fluently often correcting my typos.... (and knows some German) and we are both learning Serbian. He likes languages so that is not too big an issue. He does work for an international company in Serbia, he is really smart and I'm sure with some confidence boosters we can find a way to improve his circumstances and hopefully down the road, he can get a Schengen visa though I know conditions are very bad for that right now. My surgery went well and my contract work ends in the fall so perhaps I can visit then again. Down the road I will move where he is, so it's not the end of the world just a bummer with how complicated everything is.

Thanks for the info on the Visa update though 6 days are really impressive!

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  • Based on the information you’ve given in your question IMHO his chance of success seems pretty slim and there’s likely nothing you can do to improve that, at least not in the short/medium term. Showing non-immigrant intent is very difficult without strong ties travel.stackexchange.com/questions/103826/…. What is his citizenship and current country of residence? Does he have a good travel history up to now? Can you meet up in a country he can enter more easily than the US?
    – Traveller
    Mar 12, 2023 at 8:53
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    Paid visa services are not needed and many can work against you by sending in forced documents. We see a lot of questions here about agents who made a mess. The few paid options that would work do not handle cases like yours, they sort out the mess those agents made.
    – Willeke
    Mar 12, 2023 at 10:46
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    @Willeke a good US immigration lawyer could be useful, but it’s probably going to cost quite a bit.
    – jcaron
    Mar 12, 2023 at 13:13
  • It depends where he will apply for the US tourist visa. I was able to get my wife's parents tourist visas last summer but it was in Budapest and we waited a year for the interview. Chances were slim but it worked out. They didnt want to see any of their paperwork about properties or bank accounts, etc. They simply wanted honest answers to simple questions. Since the US Consulate in Russia closed, they'll accept applications in some places abroad but wait times vary. You can check wait times here: travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/…
    – AussieJoe
    Apr 18, 2023 at 6:16
  • I think the best think you can do is to work together with him to find a permanent job either in his current place of residence (Belgrade) or in some another country that does not require visas, and after some time the chances of getting a visa would be way higher.
    – dimnnv
    Apr 18, 2023 at 9:41

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What else can I do to help him increase his odds?

There is not much YOU can do to increase his odds, other than help him research his best options. It is up to the discretion of the consulate officers to accept his application or not. My advice is to be truthful but do not volunteer information if they do not ask for it. Only give them the information they ask for. Also, he may need a translator if he does not speak fluent Serbian, in which case you must arrange that with the consulate beforehand and submit the translator's passport and details to the consulate.

Not all US consulates will accept non-residents for interviews. It is up to the consulate and its at their discretion. Some consulates will not process Russian applications regardless of residency status, so you will need to contact the consulate beforehand. Either call them or email them for answers. Each one has different rules and regulations.

According to their website, translators are not allowed in the waiting room. So it may be possible they do not allow translators at all, you will need to verify this directly with the consulate.

Note: All nonimmigrant visa applicants are expected to speak either English or Serbian at their visa interview. No interpreters will be permitted in the waiting room. Please note that this designation for Russian applicants does not guarantee that a visa appointment will be available for all applicants in the above designated visa categories.

If Serbia does not allow tourist visa interviews for Non-Serbians, you will have to find somewhere else nearby, such as Budapest that will allow it.

Do visa paid services increase the odds of success?

In my opinion and experience, no they do not. They simply fill out the paperwork for you and ask you to provide all the evidence and personal records necessary to apply. So you essentially do the work for them anyways, they just fill out the paperwork, which isn't too hard. They also schedule your interview appointment for you, using the same website you would have to use. So you do not gain much.

If you decide you want to go that route, I would suggest finding a Serbian visa service that works with the US Consulate there already. Those types of companies will have translators and package deals ready for you.

Unfortunately there is not much you can do to guarantee he will get a visa. They look at many factors and do thorough background checks. It is difficult to accept Russian tourists as many of them are fleeing their country permanently, so there is a risk he is not a genuine tourist. The officer will need to figure out and determine this, and the best thing your boyfriend can do is be honest, be calm as possible and be friendly. A good joke to break the ice always goes a long way in my experience. They will want to know why he is visiting the USA and he can let them know he has a girlfriend there. They will also want to know if he intends to overstay or will return home. If he has a job in Serbia, he can show proof of his job offer, and show he has ties and a reason to come home. He could even get his employer to write a letter but generally USCIS doesn't accept such magic letters in an interview. He can bring whatever paperwork he wants but in our experience, they rarely look at that, and focus more on background questions and to see if your story adds up or conflicts.

It is entirely possible that they suspect he is fleeing or dodging the draft in Russia and they could deny him. But if he has a fair interview, he should have nothing to worry about.

Also, the current wait time for a B category visa (tourist visa) in Belgrade Serbia is 6 days. So that is very good news! My in-laws had to wait 12 months for an interview in Budapest!

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  • "Not all US consulates will accept non-residents for interviews": the question indicates that he will be applying in his new place of residence, so this is not relevant. "Some consulates will not process Russian applications regardless of residency status": the Belgrade consulate processes applications for certain visa types for Russians residing in Russia; it's hard to imagine that it would refuse to consider an application from a Russian resident of Serbia.
    – phoog
    Apr 20, 2023 at 11:29
  • "If Serbia does not allow tourist visa interviews for Non-Serbians": they interview only in Serbian or English; this says nothing about the nationality of the applicant. Presumably this applicant, with his girlfriend in the US, can handle a visa interview in English. It's possible that he works only in Russian, but if there are many Serbians in that office there's a good chance that at least some of them speak better English than Russian, implying a likelihood that he uses English at work. See What foreign language is the most common in Serbia?
    – phoog
    Apr 20, 2023 at 11:42
  • @phoog you're assuming he will apply in Serbia. Like I said, Budapest is an option. He may not end up using Serbia. So heads up, some consulates will not process Russian applications because of whatever reason today.
    – AussieJoe
    Apr 20, 2023 at 16:00
  • @phoog I am unsure what language he speaks, since it's his girlfriend that posted this in English. Since his passport is Russian, I assume he speaks Russian. Many Russians do not speak English or Serbian. I am also not going to guess. Thanks.
    – AussieJoe
    Apr 20, 2023 at 16:03
  • Why would he apply in Budapest if he lives in Serbia? There is no part of Serbia that is closer to Budapest than to Belgrade. Plus, as you note, "not all US consulates will accept non-residents for interviews." On top of that, he would need first to have a Schengen visa to enter Hungary for the US visa interview. It makes no sense. "Many Russians do not speak English or Serbian": this is true, but that does not justify the logical disconnect from "applicants are expected to speak either English or Serbian at their visa interview" to "not allow tourist visa interviews for non-Serbians."
    – phoog
    Apr 21, 2023 at 9:54

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