Coming here on tourist visa. My girlfriend lives in japan and she wants to come here and live with me for a while to see

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Customer: coming here on tourist visa
JA: What steps has the tourist taken? Have they filed any paperwork with the U.S. government?
Customer: no, my girlfriend lives in japan and she wants to come here and live with me for a while to see if we are compatible together
JA: Has your girlfriend talked to a lawyer about the visa?
Customer: no, this is a year away still, but we want to prepare. she is in japan on a work visa for 3 years, it ends in august of 2022, so she wants to come straight here when thats over with.
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: She is from the Philippines.
Answered by Guillermo Senmartin in 4 mins 1 year ago
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Guillermo Senmartin
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Guillermo Senmartin, Expert

Hello!  My name is***** and I am a licensed attorney with more than 18 years of experience.  I am here to assist you with your questions.  If I do not respond quickly, I promise I will reply as soon as I can.  It may take a little time to research and write your answer, I could be helping other customers, or I could be attending to personal clients as I have my law practice.

There really is not a visa available to "see if things will work out" other than the K-1 fiancee visa.  She will have just a few minutes to prove to a usually sour and cynical (because people lie to them all the time) CBP Officer at the Port of Entry she is not planning to stay during that trip.  They can often go through luggage, cell phone, WhatsApp messages, emails, social media accounts, etc. They can even make her call whomever she says would be picking her up at the airport.  They have their ways.   Do you really want to take that risk that she be denied entry and penalized?  Why can't you go visit her?

Customer
I live in Michigan, and she is in Niigata Japan. I would like to visit her once while she is there. If they go through the phone, the can read all of our chat history if they like, we have nothing to hide, not sure if that will help anything if they are like you say. This wont be for quite a while yet but I'm the type of person who wants to know what to do before hand. So basically there is no way she can come live with me here for a while? Other than the K-1? We would take the K-1 if that were the last resort.
Customer
If we want to do the K-1, would I have to propose to her before she comes here or while she is here?
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Guillermo Senmartin, Expert

First, let me explain that if she has an ESTA Visa Waiver or B visitor visa (or will apply for one), she is NOT supposed to use either visa to enter the U.S. if she intends to stay. That is considered visa fraud, and if they do not let her in, one of three things can happen:

a) They will allow her to withdraw her request to enter the U.S., and she can go home with no penalty.

b) They will not allow her to withdraw her request to enter the U.S. and will order her excluded. That has a 5-year penalty that she cannot come back unless she gets a waiver that is hard to get.

c) They will not allow her to withdraw her request to enter the U.S., and they catch her in a lie, and they exclude her with a permanent bar due to fraud or misrepresentation, and with that charge, she cannot come back unless she gets a waiver that is hard to get.

IF you don't take my advice and she tries to come in because you can't stand to be separated for the many months it will take for her to get the correct visa to go to the U.S., and she does make it in, then she should wait 90 days or more after entry before taking any steps to stay, or she could get charged with visa fraud. Take a look at this link:

https://immigrationworkvisa.wordpress.com/2019/09/17/green-card-adjustment-after-b2-entry/

What is happening is that they are cracking down on people that are misusing ESTAs and visitor visas when they have immigrant intent.

IF she does make it in, then wait more than 90 days to marry after she enters (if you aren't already married) and files the following forms:
I-130 (Petition for a family member).
I-130A.
I-485 (application for Lawful Permanent Residency).
I-765 (Application for a work permit).
I-131 (Application for Advance Parole).
I-693 (Medical exam that a certified doctor must fill out).
I-864 (Affidavit of support).
You will need to file each form with supporting evidence and appropriate filing fees. You can find these forms at www.uscis.gov/forms.

The supporting evidence that you would file would be birth certificates, marriage certificate, divorce certificates if either of you have been married previously, proof of your U.S. Citizenship, evidence of your spouse's legal entry into the U.S., and financial documents to prove your income over the last year at least.

In about 5 to 7 months after filing, the work permit and Advance Parole (travel permit) should arrive. About 9 to 10 months after filing, the interview should be scheduled (maybe more due to COVID). If all goes well, a few weeks later, the U.S. Lawful Permanent Residency card (green card) should come in the mail.

If you are already married before you enter the U.S., this may not work, and she may get charged with visa fraud. You would then have to file an I-601 waiver asking that the government forgive her for the deception. To win that, which is not guaranteed, you would have to prove that her deportation would cause you EXTREME hardship.

IF you take my advice and have her not try to enter on a visitor visa, then there are essentially three ways to bring her, and none are fast, unfortunately (one if you are not legally married yet and two if you are):

1) The K-1 fiancée visa takes around nine months, but you must have met before at least once during the last two years to process it. The is the form that starts the process is the I-129F. After she enters the U.S., then you have to marry, and then you have to file the I-485 (the I-130 and I-130A are not needed), and she will have to wait about 5 to 7 months and gets another interview that you attend with your new spouse so that she can get Residency. Remember, in order to use this method; you cannot be legally married until AFTER entry into the U.S. on the K-1 visa.

2) The K-3 spouse visa takes around nine months; you must be legally married to start this process. The I-129F and I-130 are used to begin the process. Then after she enters the U.S., she must still file the I-485 and wait for the marriage interview about 5 to 7 months later.

3) The CR-1 visa (or IR-1 if your marriage is more than two years old) also takes around nine months (making the K-3 almost obsolete). You must be married. The I-130 is the form that is needed to start this process. But once she enters the U.S., she enters as a Resident, and she does not have to file (or pay for) an I-485, nor does she have to attend an additional interview. She gets her green card in the mail a few weeks later.

So the K-1 and K-3 might be a little faster but generally more expensive. The CR-1 (and IR-1) might be a little slower but usually cheaper. And no, there is no middle-visa that she can use to enter the U.S. while that process is pending. She will most likely have to wait outside.

Here is a link to those visas:

http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/immigrate/family/fiance.html

and another link:

http://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Resources/Resources%20for%20Congress/Congressional%20Reports/I-129F%20Petition%20for%20Alien%20Fiance%28e%29.pdf

The only other thing that I can think of that might shave off a few months from the process is Direct Consular Filing (DCF), IF it is available. Here are some links:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/the-immigrant-visa-process/step-1-submit-a-petition/filing-petitions-outside-the-us.html

https://www.boundless.com/immigration-resources/direct-consular-filing/

I know you do not want to wait. I know it is very inconvenient. I know you want to be together sooner rather than later, but I have this same conversation two or three times per day on this website. No one ever likes it, and believe me, if there were an easier or faster way, I would tell you. I know you will probably say, "but what about this...?" or "but what about that...?" But I will most likely continue to have bad news for you. I am genuinely sorry. The problem is that the U.S. concerns over security and fraud in this area are more important than a 6 to 9 months inconvenience to you. The way they see it is that if it truly is a real relationship, it will survive that length of time apart. Again, I am genuinely sorry. I wish I had a faster and easier way to tell you about it. Remember, you can visit her.

What else may I answer for you?

Customer
Thank you SO much for this information! I do not want her getting in any trouble at all, I want to do this the legal way. and I would have gotten her into deep trouble had I went ahead with my plan.Now when you said:"The K-1 fiancée visa takes around nine months, but you must have met before at least once during the last two years to process it."Does that mean that we have to have met physically? Or does online count at all? We met on a dating site called Japan Cupid.
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Guillermo Senmartin, Expert

Yes. So you most likely will have to go to her, maybe meet in a third country if need be.

What else would you like to know?

Customer
Ok thank you, ***** ***** the K-1, do you know how much that will cost on average? and also if we start the K-1 9 months before her work visa in Japan expires, can we cancel it at any time in case we change our minds? And I believe my last question is on the K-1 do I have to marry her as soon as she enters the US or do I have 3 months to do so? So like, can I decide on the last month of her visa? Her and I can stay together for 2 months and decide the last month if so. It's not ideal but if her and I want to be together then I guess thats what we have to do.
Customer
She still has exactly 1 year before her Work visa in japan expires.
Customer
Oh, i almost forgot, this part here: "and she will have to wait about 5 to 7 months" If we get married on the K-1, she can wait those 5-7 months here in the US?
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Guillermo Senmartin, Expert

$535 plus $265, I think. Here is a link:

Fees for Visa Services (state.gov)

You would have 90 days to marry her after she enters the U.S. on a K-1. You can even marry after that, but she can ONLY marry you to stay. If she doesn't, she MUST go home. Marriage to a different U.S. Citizen will not help her stay.

And yes, after entry on K-1, after marriage, you file for her to get a work permit and Advance Parole (travel permit) to allow her to work and travel internationally and eventually she would get a green card interview.

What other U.S. Immigration Law questions do you have for me?

Customer
Ok, thank you so much. That cost is not bad at all and totally doable. So say she has 1 year left. She initiates the K-1 this October, but her and I don't meet until January, does it not start processing until after we met or is it considered fraud to start it before we meet? Even if I don't see her until January, she would only have to go back to the Philippines for like 3 months so that wouldn't be bad if it had to go down that route.There was another question I had but I forgot, I will have to think, my apologies.
Customer
Oh, can the K-1 be cancelled at any time?
Customer
Also on the K-1 she does she need sponsoring? my friedn told me about sponsoring and that I would be responsible for her for 10 years if she divorced me.
Customer
Sorry for all the questions, I know nothing about immigration and I'm just trying to figure out a game plan for her and I so we can be together.
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Guillermo Senmartin, Expert

That's not the way it works. You have to have met in person at least once during that last two years before you can file the I-129F. So you need to meet first, sorry. And as for Sponsorship, you aren't going to like this, unfortunately. The Sponsor will be responsible FOR LIFE to pay back the U.S. government for any means-tested benefit that the immigrant uses such as welfare, food stamps, etc. If she uses none, then the Sponsor does not have to pay anything back. Lately, some crafty attorneys have even been able to get the Sponsor to support the immigrant at 125% of the poverty line. The responsibility only ends when one of three things happen:

1) The immigrant works ten years in the U.S. paying U.S. taxes or can receive credit for ten years of paying U.S. taxes (as if a spouse worked and paid taxes).

2) The immigrant becomes a U.S. Citizen.

3) The immigrant loses Residency for some reason:

a) Being outside of the U.S. for too long.

b) They obtained it through fraud.

c) They commit a serious enough crime.

Divorce does not terminate the responsibility.

What else may I answer for you?

Customer
Thank you for the reply, that's quite sobering information. So basically, she can marry then divorce me and stay here? that seems like a bit of a loophole to me. An immigrant can just pretend to love someone from here, marry them and then leave them to get a free pass to live here. I really hate to think she would do that to me but I don't put anything past anyone.
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Guillermo Senmartin, Expert

If your marriage is less than 2 years old when the green card is approved, they will give her a 2 year conditional card, the condition being that she stays married to you and at the end of the 2 years she has to apply to remove the conditions and prove the marriage is still good, OR if the marriage is ending or has ended, she still gets a chance to prove that even though the marriage ended, it was still a good one that fell apart:

Removing Conditions on Permanent Residence Based on Marriage | USCIS

What else would you like to know?

Customer
Ok that seems more reasonable to me. So if it were to end prematurely would they interview me and ask me and get both of our stories? Or just ask her?
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Guillermo Senmartin, Expert

Probably just hers, but if you feel there was fraud, you could report the fraud and submit evidence to ICE. What other U.S. Immigration Law questions do you have for me?

Customer
Ok. So lets say her and I meet in December, then after we meet and I come back home. How does this process start? Do I have to fill out paperwork in person? can I do it online? does she have to fill anything out or do anything?
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Guillermo Senmartin, Expert

You file an I-129F to start the process AFTER you meet in person. Here is a link:

Nonimmigrant Visa for a Fianc(é)e (K-1) (state.gov)

and another:

Visas for Fiancé(e)s of U.S. Citizens | USCIS

What else may I answer for you?

Customer
Perfect. So if for whatever reason, after we meet and then file the paperwork, i can just cancel it if her and I have a falling out in the ~9 months or change our minds?
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Guillermo Senmartin, Expert

Well, once the green card is approved, even the 2 year one, you are on the hook. You cannot withdraw your support after green card approval. You are stuck until one of the things happens that I listed.

What else would you like to know?

Customer
If its approved, but what if its still pending approval? am I still out of luck? once I file then there's no going back at any point?
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Guillermo Senmartin, Expert

Pending approval, you can back out. After approval, it is too late. What other U.S. Immigration Law questions do you have for me?

Customer
Ok excellent. I believe thats it. I'm going to have to talk with her about these options. Thank you so much for your time.
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Guillermo Senmartin, Expert

You are very welcome. Thank you for being a valued customer. My goal is to provide you with excellent service – but that does NOT mean we finished if you need to continue. If you feel you have received anything less than quality service or have additional questions, please reply. I am happy to address 2 or 3 follow-up questions for you. There is no additional charge for that. For any different cases in the future, please post a NEW session and remember to use FOR GUILLERMO in the subject line and message box so that no one else grabs the question. That way, I can become your exclusive immigration consultant.

Customer
Hi I did have another question. So if we meet, file the K-1, then it gets approved but we don't get married and we decide we don't want to be together and she goes to the Philippines and doesn't want to stay here, is there a penalty if she doesn't stay here?
Customer
What im thinking is going to meet her in November, then come back to the states and file, then while shes in japan the visa can have time to get approved so we wont have to wait another year, and if anything happens in that time where we dont want to be together, then we can just go our separate ways even if the visa gets approved, if I dont want to marry her, she cant stay here right?
Customer
Oh also if I do that and the visa gets approved while shes in Japan, can she come here straight from Japan or does she need to go back to the Philippines first?
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Guillermo Senmartin, Expert

Sure. I don't mind answering 2 or 3 more follow-up questions:

1) So if we meet, file the K-1, then it gets approved but we don't get married and we decide we don't want to be together and she goes to the Philippines and doesn't want to stay here, is there a penalty if she doesn't stay here?

There should be no penalty if she does not stay here. But make it CLEAR to her that she needs to be coming to the U.S. to be with you primarily. It is NOT OK in this situation to primarily come to the U.S. for a better life. So she has to be clear that if it does not work out with you, she MUST go home. The K-1 is one of the worst to have. She cannot stay and marry someone else to get a green card. She MUST marry AND get a green card through you or she is going home. Not even having a U.S. Citizen child would help her stay, normally.

2) What im thinking is going to meet her in November, then come back to the states and file, then while shes in japan the visa can have time to get approved so we wont have to wait another year, and if anything happens in that time where we dont want to be together, then we can just go our separate ways even if the visa gets approved, if I dont want to marry her, she cant stay here right?

Correct. That should work.

3) Oh also if I do that and the visa gets approved while shes in Japan, can she come here straight from Japan or does she need to go back to the Philippines first?

This is difficult to answer. It depends on if she is legally allowed to live in Japan AND the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Japan is willing to take her for visa stamping. If not, she is going to the Philippines to get visa stamping.

If you need additional help, please post a new session and write FOR GUILLERMO. Thank you for your understanding and good luck!

Customer
Hi, I apologize, I have viewed the question and have talked with my Girlfriend about it so we have figured something out, thank you so much for your help!
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Guillermo Senmartin, Expert

My pleasure.

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