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Tourist Visa Rules and Process

Tourist visas are short- term non work related visas issued for holiday or recreational visits. Many people opt for this type of visa due to the simplicity of it. Below are the more commonly asked questions regarding tourist visas and the rules that apply to them and have been answered by Experts.

Can a Tourist Visa to the U.S. be converted into a Student Visa?

There is a way for a person to change a B-2 visitor's visa to an F-1 student visa. To do this, you will need to complete an I-539 Application to change Non-immigrant Status. You can find this form on the USCIS (United States Citizen Immigration Services) website. You will also be required to have an I-20 Form which is issued by the university, proof of a SEVIS payment (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) and proof that you will have the financial funding to pay for your course studies. Another important piece of information required it proof that you intend to return to your homeland when your studies/schooling is complete. You should also attach a letter explaining your reasons for wanting the educational experience, a copy of your passport and I-94. There will be a filing fee of $300.

There are a couple of issues with this approach.

1. If you attempt to change the status of your visa as soon as you enter a country, you will draw attention and speculation as to what your intent is. The USCIS may think you have ulterior motives for the status change and have plans of staying longer than they had expected. It is normal for a person to change their status after being in the country for awhile (60-90 days) but changing your status before this time may draw undo attention from USCIS.

2. Your application for change of status must be with the USCIS before your I-94 expires. Furthermore, your I-20 should run concurrent with your I-94 with no gaps in between or before the expiration of the I-94. You will have to have your application approved before you can begin your studies.

If an individual is married and is on a tourist visa from the Philippines and must get a divorce then apply for an extension because the individual needs to have a 6 months residency before being able to marry an American citizen, is it possible for both individuals to get married in the U.S.?

If you and your fiancé attempt to marry under this type of action, your fiancé lose any chance of having a green card. You would be in violation of the immigration law by having your fiancé enter the states on a tourist visa with the intent to stay in the states for 6 moths then marry. While your fiancé is in the country for 6 months on their tourist visa, he/she is not considered as residing. If you wish to comply with immigration law, you must first get the divorce out of the way, have your fiancé return to their homeland, and you will then petition for a fiancé visa. This will allow your fiancé to enter the country legally without pretense and you will be able to marry them without delay.

This option may require more time for you and your fiancé to be apart, however, if you do this your way, your fiancé will more than likely lose any chance of re-entry to the states.

If an individual came from Australia to the U.S. on a tourist visa and I am a green card holder of the U.S., can the individual from Australia become a resident of the U.S. after getting married to an U.S. citizen?

If you were to get married and you have a green card, your spouse would have to apply to adjust their status. However, your spouse would have to remain outside of the United States while he/she waits for their visa. When marrying a U.S. permanent resident, there is a 5-6 year wait for a visa and your spouse would be "out of status” before the waiting period was finished.

You can try to obtain your citizenship first, and then marry your fiancé. By doing this, he/she could remain in the United States while he/she applies to adjust their status.

If you are on a tourist visa and you get arrested for petit larceny what happens legally?

The process is like any person in the U.S. who is arrested. You will pay your fines and then leave the country. Your charge is a misdemeanor charge which shouldn't affect any future attempts to get a tourist visa. You may want to speak with the prosecutor handling your case and see if he/she is willing to work with you. You may be able to have the charges expunged once you pay your fines and complete any community service/probation etc. In many cases, the prosecutor will dismiss a case involving a tourist as long as all obligations to the case are met.

Tourist visas are very popular with foreign visitors who enter the U.S. for leisure and fun. Many people use this type of visa without issue. However, there are times when a person may come up against issues regarding their tourist visa and need help. If you have questions or concerns about your tourist visa, you should ask an Expert for legal insight and assistance.
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