Cohabitating Partners and Other Household Members Eligible for B-2 Visas

Michael Cho Immigration Lawyer

B-2 Visa Classification for Cohabitating Partners, Extended Family Members, and Other Household Members Not Eligible for Derivative Status

B-2 classification is appropriate for people who are members of the household of someone in long-term non-immigrant status but who are not eligible for derivative status under that person’s visa classification.  Such people may include cohabitating partners or elderly parents of temporary workers, students, diplomats posted to the U.S., etc.

If such individuals plan to stay in the U.S. for more than six months, they should specifically request a one-year stay at the time they apply for admission. If needed, they may thereafter apply for extensions of stay, in increments of up to six months, for the duration of the principal alien’s non-immigrant status in the U.S.

Examples of evidence of co‐habitation that may be sufficient include a joint bank account statement, shared lease or mortgage obligations, common driver’s license addresses, insurance documents, and, if applicable, a letter from the principal alien’s employer verifying the temporary nature of the assignment

Keep in mind however that the primary purpose of travel is controlling.  Thus, if the primary purpose of the partner or family member is to accompany the principal alien, then the B-2 visa classification is appropriate. Therefore, the activity is consistent with B-2 status, as long as the accompanying partner does not intend to work. (If the latter, the accompanying partner will need a temporary work visa which permits such planned activity.)

In evaluating these cases, the consular officer will not focus on the absolute length of the stay per se; rather, they will focus on whether the stay has some finite limit. For example, the temporariness requirement would be met in a case where the cohabitating partner will accompany, and depart with, the “principal” alien on a two-year work assignment or a four-year degree program.

As in any B visa case, the accompanying partner must still establish that he/she has a residence abroad that the alien does not intend to abandon.  In determining whether the individual can meet this burden, the consular officer will examine the B-2 applicant’s ties abroad and the likelihood that he/she would stay in the U.S. illegally after the “principal” alien departs.

In making this assessment, the consular officer will consider the applicant’s current circumstances and their prospects in their home country upon return, as well as the strength of their relationship with the “principal” alien and the “principal” alien’s own ties abroad. For example, an applicant who is part of a couple who have lived together for many years and who are both well-established with strong ties to their home country would normally be able to overcome 214(b)(“immigrant intent”).  Conversely, a “partner” (boy/girlfriend) who only recently entered into a relationship with the principal and who has weak ties of his/her own may have greater difficulty demonstrating a residence abroad.