If you have ever applied for a nonimmigrant visa, such as a tourist visa, you may have been asked very specific questions about your intended stay by a consular officer or Customs and Border Patrol agent. For example, questions regarding the purpose of your visit, the length of your stay, who you intend to visit and your connections (job, property, family, etc.) to your home country. Aside from ensuring that your answers match what you indicated on your nonimmigrant visa application, the officer is also assessing whether you have “immigrant intent.”
When applying and traveling to the United States on a temporary visa, the traveler cannot have the “preconceived intent” to stay permanently in the United States. If the applicant’s original intent is to remain in the United States and apply for residency or adjust your status, that can result in serious consequences, including being charged with committing fraud or misrepresentation on your original nonimmigrant visa application.
Does this mean that you can never apply for residency or adjust your status after entering on a nonimmigrant visa for fear that you can be charged with fraud? No. Immigration officials understand that there are unexpected events or changed circumstances that can result in an individual remaining in the United States longer than they intended and then later apply for residency. However, after applying for residency, government officials will examine your original intent when you applied for your nonimmigrant visa, and if they determine that you lied on your original application, that can result in a denial of your application and subject you to a permanent ban from having a petition approved on your behalf in the future. While certain waivers exist to ask the government to “forgive” the fraud and misrepresentation, not everyone will qualify for a waiver and they can be difficult to obtain.
If you have any case-specific questions related to this or any other immigration matter, please contact an experienced attorney at Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan, P.C.