I read many websites that make it seem as though a US tourist visa is easy to get. These same sites also make it seem as though this is the right visa for taking a Thai fiancée or spouse to the US to stay permanently. I have written this article to explain why the tourist visa is not the best way to bring a Thai loved one to the USA.
Tourist Visas are granted at the DISCRETION of the Immigration officer
The first problem with the tourist visa is the fact that getting one is highly discretionary. Whenever I’m in the US Embassy I always hear the ubiquitous statement “I cannot give you a visa to the USA,” usually this seems to be said to a person looking to obtain a tourist visa to the US. In fact, I heard the officer state, “you must show strong ties to Thailand and you have not shown strong enough ties for me to issue this visa.” That officer was right. The immigration officer has to look at all applications for visas with the presumption that the applicant (for our purposes a Thai fiancée) will live indefinitely in the United States should they be granted entry. This said, it is on the Thai applicant to prove this presumption incorrect. The way for a Thai fiancée to do this is to prove that she has strong ties to Thailand (i.e. the Thai is so tied to Thailand that she will come back to Thailand after staying in the USA for a short while).
The ways to prove strong ties to Thailand essentially come down to money. If the Thai fiancée has a well paying job (by US standards), a good deal of money, a home in Thailand, or investments in Thailand these factors can be used to show that a Thai fiancée has strong ties to Thailand. Another factor is the American fiancé. If the US citizen has a job and strong ties to Thailand and is going to return with the Thai fiancée, then Immigration will likely look more favorably upon the petition for a tourist visa. It must be noted again that this visa is completely discretionary. Even if the applicant shows all kinds of ties to Thailand the immigration officer can still reject the application based upon little more than gut instinct.
The Odds of obtaining a Tourist Visa for a Thai Fiancee are Bad
The fact is: the Tourist Visa has about a 95% rejection rate among Thai applicants. It is just not an efficient way of getting a Thai fiancée into the US. Why would you spend the time and money to go up against those odds?
It COULD BE CRIMINAL to take a Thai Fiancee to the USA on a Tourist Visa and get Married!
A tourist visa is exactly what its name implies: a visa for touring the US. It is not designed to be used to bring a Thai fiancée to the US with the intention to marry her and have her remain. If you intend to use the tourist visa to bring your Thai fiancée to the US to marry, then it could be deemed to be an attempt to defraud the US government. The possibility of being found to have defrauded the government increases if you and your Thai fiancée immediately get married and try to adjust her status to permanent residence. If you and your Thai fiancée are found to be attempting to defraud the government it could lead to criminal penalties and possible deportation for your Thai fiancée.
Use the Correct Visa to take your Thai Fiancee to America
Even though the process for getting a Thai fiancée to the US is frustrating and time consuming a lot of complications can be avoided by not being taken in by the supposed allure of the tourist visa. In the end, the benefits of the tourist visa are far outweighed by the disadvantages. If you want your Thai fiancée or spouse to come to the US to reside with you, then use either a K1 Fiancée Visa or a K-3 or Immigrant Relative Spouse visa. Although these visas seem to take more time and cost more money, in reality they take less time because you and your Thai fiancée won’t be hitting any dead ends and won’t throw money away on a visa that you have only a 5% chance of getting.