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My girlfriend from Japan is visiting me in California via…

My girlfriend from Japan is...
My girlfriend from Japan is visiting me in California via her ESTA for almost 3 months. On the end of December she will go back to Japan and we want to know the best ways how she can get back to California as soon as possible.I can think of these things:
- Tourist visa for 6 months
- Student visa
- Fiancé visaI need to know:
- What are the best ways how she can get back to California ASAP, so we can be together again?
- What is the process for each of it and how long does it approximately take?
- Is any of those options influenced by the fact she was in California from Oct - Dec? E.g. does she need to stay some time in Japan before visiting me again on her tourist visa?
- What is the best way to prepare for a tourist visa interview?Thank you very much,
Daniel
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Answered in 13 minutes by:
11/17/2017
Expert James
Expert James, Lawyer
Category: Immigration Law
Satisfied Customers: 13,375
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Is the goal to bring her back to get married? Do you plan to get married soon?
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
I would prefer to postpone marriage if there are some other, good options.
Ok please give me some time to prepare your answer. This might take a while, as immigration issues can be complicated.
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Perfect, thank you very much.

Thank you for your patience. Your answer is below. When you get your answers, you will be asked to give a rating - 4 or 5 stars are appreciated. This is important because this is how I credit for doing my job. Don't worry, you can still ask related follow-up questions even after you've given a rating. Thank you!

ANSWER: A tourist visa is an option, but that might be difficult to obtain, considering that she is eligible to travel on the visa waiver program. They will wonder why she needs a tourist visa and it could raise suspicions about her ties to her home country, which she has to prove are stronger than her ties to the US. If anything, she should just use the VWP again. The issue with that is many officers want to see that a person who came to the US for 3 months spends at least that amount of time outside of the US before coming back. This is to assure that persons are not using the visitor status as a guise for actually living in the US. That also might be an issue with the visitor visa. This can happen in about 2 weeks, give or take, depending on how busy the consulate is and appointment availability. This could be influenced by her stay already, as described previously. The best way to prepare is to have evidence of her stronger ties to her home country than to the US. As her boyfriend, you are a strong tie to the US. She should answer the questions honestly. She should not volunteer any information. Keep it simple yeses and nos. If they don't ask if she has a boyfriend, she doesn't have to volunteer that information. She can say that she wants to spend more time in the US to travel, visit with friends, etc., because the 90 days she already had was insufficient to do everything she wanted to do and see everything she wanted to see. She should be prepared to talk about what she wants to do and see while there, as well as where she will stay and how she will support herself. Because I am not her lawyer or your lawyer, I cannot tell you what that is. I am only allowed to give general information here. She needs to file form DS-160 for the visitor visa. Here is how to apply: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/visitor.html

The student visa might be a good option for her since it would give her a much longer time to be in the US than say the visitor visa or the VWP would allow. She does have to show her strong ties to her home country just like she would with the visitor visa. She also has to show that she has the money to pay tuition, books, room and board, expenses (i.e., that she is legitimately able to be a student and will not become a public charge). This can take about as long as the visitor visa, for the same reasons. She needs to file form DS-160 for the student visa, but she first needs to get enrolled in a school or program that issues I-20s. Then she needs to get an I-20 from that school. Here is information on how to apply: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/study-exchange/student.html

As far as the fiance visa, this should only be used if she plans to come to the US for the purpose of getting married. And she must do so within 90 days of entry to the US with the visa. Moreover, she cannot change to any other status except for a permanent resident status if she comes with a fiance visa. Also, this takes anywhere from 7 to 9 month to process, sometimes even more time. Here is everything you need to know about the process: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/immigrate/family/fiance-k-1.html

I hope that answers your questions. Please remember to give me credit for doing my job by clicking on 4 or 5 stars at the top of your screen.

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Thank you so much for your great answers! I have some final follow up questions:
- If we would get married, she would still be a citizen of Japan and a permanent resident of the US, right?
- Can I apply for a fiance visa with my green card? Or do I need to be a citizen?
- If the fiance visa processing takes about 7 - 9 months, can she visit me on VWP while the fiance visa application would be in progress?
Sure thing. Sorry for the delay. I was offline already by the time you responded.Please remember that I don't get credit for doing my job if you do not give me a positive rating. Kindly do so by going to the top of this page and clicking on 4 or 5 stars. Thank you!QUESTION: If we would get married, she would still be a citizen of Japan and a permanent resident of the US, right?
ANSWER: I don’t know about Japan. She has to find out if they permit dual citizenship. But if she marries a US citizen, she is immediately eligible to apply to become a permanent resident. It’s not automatic. If she marries a permanent resident, then there is about a 1 year, 8 month waiting time before she can become eligible to apply for her green card. She’ll require some other lawful status to be in the US if she wants to wait here. If you become a US citizen during that time, she becomes immediately eligible to apply. For more information on that, we need to start a new thread.QUESTION: Can I apply for a fiance visa with my green card? Or do I need to be a citizen?
ANSWER: You must be a US citizen.QUESTION: If the fiance visa processing takes about 7 - 9 months, can she visit me on VWP while the fiance visa application would be in progress?
ANSWER: She can try, but the officer at the port of entry will decide if he wants to let her in or not.PLEASE do not forget that rating now. Otherwise I fear you will leave without giving me the credit I have earned by helping you. Thanks.
Expert James
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Satisfied Customers: 13,375
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Thank you so much! One more thing.. what about some work visa, e.g. that she would do some internship? Is it possible and how long does it take?

Sure, that is possible, if she can show she's eligible for it. Internships are through J-1 visas: https://j1visa.state.gov/programs/intern/

NOte that J-1 visas can be tricky because some of them require a 2-year home residency. If she is subject to a 2-year home residency requirement (not everyone is), she would either have to return to her home country for 2 years before she can get a green card through marriage or some types of working visas, or she would require a waiver.

For specifics on the J-1 visa, we would need to start a new thread. You can write "FOR JAMES" in the question so that I become your personal expert on that question.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Thank you!
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