Filipina wife in Taiwan married to US citizen: applying for nonimmigrant US visa (B-2)

Does anyone have experience trying to get a US nonimmigrant visa (B-2) for a Filipina wife living in Taiwan? I’m wondering what supporting documentation might be helpful to persuade AIT to allow her to travel with me (her US husband living in Taiwan) to the US for a few weeks to meet my family. She is in Taiwan on a spousal visa, not entitled to work here, and dependent on me for finances.

I’m a US citizen but permanent resident in Taiwan (APRC), so the K3 route is not an option I think.

I think as long as AIT see your marriage is real (I.e. well documented and legal) , and that you have ties to Taiwan that will make sure you will come back here (aprc, job) you should be fine, you aren’t doing anything illegal.
best of course is to ask them.

Why not simply apply for the B2 visitor visa? This shouldn’t be a problem since it’s just a short trip to the US to visit family temporarily. There shouldn’t be any issues for applying for a visitor visa, but applying for a K3 visa is a precursor to adjusting her status to permanent resident and there are lots of hoops to jump through for that.

As long as she wasn’t previously a migrant worker in a Taiwan, I don’t see any reason why a visitor visa would be denied.

In theory, it should be easy, but when giving visa’s the AIT or any embassy looks at the applicants situation in the country. Things like if they have an ongoing job, property or other significant assets, children who aren’t traveling with them. If your wife is your dependent in Taiwan, she has no compelling interest to return to Taiwan or the Philippines. Also, being married to an American means it’s much less likely she’d get a visa. They don’t want people circumventing the more difficult K-visa immigrant system. But if you have an ongoing job or property, it would help, especially if you’re making a salary comparable to what you could make in the US and/or you’ve lived together in Taiwan for a considerable length of time. It would probably be easier to get a K3 visa and have someone in your family sponsor her if you might want to stay at least a year. If you do plan to return to Taiwan after a short trip, you don’t want to do that because it would make it harder to get a K3 in the future if you leave the US without completing the immigration process.

All this is based on past research because I’m in exactly the same situation. I’m not giving this as a legal opinion, but I’ve had years to look at it. One day I might take a crap shot and have her apply for a visa, but I’d rather use the money to let her visit her family. It’s all about odds. Each factor lowers (no ties to Taiwan, ability to stay in the US based on marriage) or raises (established life in Taiwan) the odds each way. In my case, the odds are so low as to not bother trying. Being turned down for a visa once is also a factor in getting a visa in the future.

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A couple of important things to note - first, even if your wife is granted a B2 visa at AIT, she can still be refused entry into the U.S. by a U.S. CBP officer at the port of entry. The AIT staffer works for the Dept of State, and the CBP officer works for Customs & Border Protection. Different governmental entities, and they may look at your wife’s situation differently. What they are both interested in is her intent in applying for the visa and entering the U.S. If either thinks that her intent in entering the U.S. is inconsistent with the visa requirements and she won’t leave the U.S. at the end of the visa term, then she won’t get the visa or be granted entry. It will also be a lot more difficult if you’ve already submitted your green card petition for her. You should talk with an experienced immigration attorney.

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That’s true, but it’s quite rare. If they have a visa, the couple just needs to demonstrate that they plan to return. A return ticket and proof of the husband’s employment should be enough.
Is an immigration attorney going to be much help crossing the border with a tourist visa?


Thanks very much for the helpful replies. I’ve had the experience in a previous relationship with a Taiwanese girlfriend getting repeatedly denied a tourist visa to the US for no specified reason, so I can appreciate SunWuKong’s pessimism and cautionary advice.

For clarification, we have not tried and are not presently trying to apply for any kind of immigrant visa. We are planning to continue living in Taiwan for at least the next several years. I’ve lived here over 20, and we’ve been married just shy of 2. Think I’ll wait for the 2-year anniversary, just to minimize any chance of doubt about legitimacy.

I’ll be able to document stable employment in Taiwan, but not property ownership. I guess I’ll go about documenting my lease in case that makes any difference.

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I hadn’t thought about the lease, that’s a good idea. You’ll probably need it translated. However, when you apply for a B2 visa, you’re applying on your own merits, not those of a spouse. I assume the lease is in your name. You’ll want to talk to AIT about any other documents, like your marriage contract and if it needs to be certified. I’m sure if you got married in the Philippines you did that at TECO, but what AIT would need to certify it is anyone’s guess.

Where an immigration attorney earns their fee is in mapping out a strategy to get U.S. status (citizenship or U.S. permanent residence) for a non-U.S. status person. It’s very fact-dependent, i.e. more difficult for someone who has a history of unsuccessfully trying to enter the U.S. or from a country with a high incidence of visa fraud. And if you have an immigration petition already pending and you try to enter on a non-immigrant visa, then your chances of rejection go way up, again because of intent. Cases of rejection while trying to enter the U.S. on a B2 are not rare. In my previous law practice I saw them all the time, after getting a call from a U.S. citizen spouse waiting at the airport asking me what to do. But as I said, it depends on the facts of the situation. Even some ports of entry are considered much higher risk than others. So is it worth at least an initial conversation costing a few hundred USD$ with a lawyer? I think so, just to avoid the stress and heartache a few steps down the road.

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The OP is asking about entering on a non-immigrant visa for a short visit.

Is that where the foreign spouse planned to stay and had gone through the wrong visa process, or where the couple were coming to the US for a short trip?

So - the challenge for a well-meaning traveler who has passed the AIT interview and now has a B2 visa and now simply want a short visit with a U.S. citizen spouse in the U.S. is in convincing CBP officers, who are law enforcement officers, and who are lied to day in and day out, that they have no plan to work or overstay their visa.

They need to prepare the same type of documentation for CBP that they took to the AIT interview that speaks to the person’s need to return to Taiwan after a short trip, including a letter from an employer stating the position and length of employment, and the employer’s expectation that the employee would return to work in Taiwan after the short trip. If they own sizeable assets in Taiwan, e.g. real estate, car, etc., then documentation of those assets. They should avoid carrying information on job-hunting or house-hunting in their carry-on bags - CBP officers have the authority to require a traveler to empty their bags in front of the officer. Also, nothing on FB or other social media about “moving to the U.S.” or similar statements inconsistent with a plan to take a short trip.

Lastly, if they are admitted entry into the U.S., they should not max out the time they are allowed for that visit, so that a CBP officer inspecting (interviewing) them on a subsequent visit is less likely to think that they’ve abused their visa privileges in the past.

BTW, my experience in based on seeing lots of people come in for a short trip on a B1/B2 visa, probably had no intent to overstay, and not being prepared for some questions that had to be answered correctly.

I learned all that by watching Boarder Patrol USA. But again, if traveling on a B2 visa, should they have consulted with an immigration attorney?

Is it worth it to spend a little money for one consultation with an attorney before the AIT interview to make sure that you’ve maximized your chances of success and so that you understand more clearly where the risk is?

I have no idea. That’s the information I’m asking for. It seems like talking to an immigration attorney about a tourist visa isn’t helpful, but I’m asking if it is.

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Yes. See

Personally, I feel like if you’ve got time and money to spare, why not give an immigration lawyer or visa consultant a try? Hell, some PH travel bloggers make a living off of being “Visa Coaches/Consultants” since it’s notoriously hard to get a US tourist visa for Filipinos. (Though tbh, I don’t know anyone who’s actually done this.)

As for US border control, if it’s any reassurance, my husband and I travelled to NY from Taipei early last year for CNY holidays. He’s a US citizen, while I have the misfortune of being a PH citizen (no other nationalities, ahaha). I went through the non-US citizen lane myself, while he went ahead and took the US citizen lane. The CBP officer asked me the usual round of questions: Are you travelling alone? Why’ve you come to visit the States? How long are you staying etc.?). Got through without much trouble, but ymmv.

Thank you, that’s good to know.
I have some questions if you don’t mind. What information or documents did you provide to AIT? Do you have a job in Taiwan? Did you need anyone in the US to write you a letter of invitation or something similar? If it’s not too personal, do you own property (in your name or your husband’s) or have family here who didn’t travel with you?
My wife doesn’t work or own property. She doesn’t have a APRC yet, so I’m worried that she doesn’t have strong enough ties to Taiwan to be considered not a risk to travel to the US.

Hey man, no worries at all. I do have a job here, but neither I nor my husband own any properties here. My in-laws live in Taipei though (not entirely sure if that counts as family).

Buuut also, I entered on a multiple entry visa that I applied for at the US embassy in Manila years ago, so I’m not entirely sure which supporting docs would work at AIT. I do, however, need to reapply for my visa next year before it expires. So maybe I’ll…have a bit more information for you then. Sorry about that!

Yea in my experience, paradoxically, it’s actually easier to get an immigrant visa than a non immigrant visa. It might be harder to qualify for, and there are more interviews and other hoops to jump through, but sometimes those hoop is actually easier to jump than to prove that you have no immigration intent. That alone right there makes a large swath of people not able to get a non immigrant visa simply because they might have a more nomadic lifestyle, less ties to their home country, etc… It’s actually just easier in the long run to just go in with a K3 or whatever, do whatever it takes to become a citizen, as that would simplify future travel to and from the USA as well as transits. As you know any non US citizen wanting to transit through the US must either use a ESTA or get a tourist visa, there are no middle ground and there are no outbound passport control in the USA to international destinations (like any other countries), meaning any flight going to the US requires you to go through US inbound passport control. But getting a K3 means you must see it through to the end, and that means living in the US for the required length of time to become a US citizen, and passing the tests, etc. before you could leave for good. Living in the US means not having any good, inexpensive medical coverage (Taiwan’s NHI is really good), high cost of living, etc. but that may not be an issue for the OP. Becoming a US citizen also means dealing with their Orwellian tax codes… regardless of what country you take up residence in.

If proving lack of immigration intent is easy for the OP, by all means try. I think AIT almost always grants a visa for nonimmigrants… in some other countries (like China for example) their embassy basically denies nonimmigrant visa to all but very few.

Weird thing is, I actually got next to NO questions asked to me going in with an immigrant visa. All it was is staying in secondary for an hour or so, then lined up with all the others coming in on immigration visas to fingerprint and sign a form to enter the country (and surrendering the giant mystery envelope AIT gave you). Then they send you on your way with a “Welcome to the United States” letter in both English and Spanish.

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Ah, that’s a different experience then. Were you married at the time you got the visa in Manila? What did you need to get your visa there, like proof of work or connections to the Philippines? Maybe it’s easier if we go to Manila to get a visa.