When a foreign national is granted nonimmigrant work authorization in the U.S. (L-1, H-1B, O-1, TN, F-1, etc.), they must often relocate to the U.S. for an extended period of time. Understandably, they wish to bring their family members. If you are the spouse or child of that principal nonimmigrant worker, there is usually no problem with you obtaining “derivative status” and being able to come to the U.S. as well. But what happens when there are members of a person’s household – family – who are not a legal spouse or child? How do fiancés, elderly parents, cohabitating partners, and other household members obtain their own status that would allow them to accompany their loved one to the U.S?
The U.S. government now recognizes that not all families look the same and have provisions for “nuclear household members” to accompany nonimmigrant workers to the U.S. These household members may be eligible for long-term B-2 status if they:
1. Regularly reside in the same dwelling as the principal nonimmigrant; and
2. Have the type of relationship and care as one would normally expect between adult partners and/or their children.
Most household members in this situation can apply for the B-2 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Canadian citizens may have the added option of applying at a port-of-entry. Berardi Immigration Law can assist with scheduling the visa interview, preparing the required nonimmigrant visa application, and advise on the necessary documentation the applicant should bring to the interview to support his/her eligibility. This includes sufficient documentation to prove:
• that you have nonimmigrant intent – meaning, your intention is not to come to live in the U.S. permanently;
• that you live together at the same address; and
• that you maintain the type of relationship expected of the relationship – for example, this status is not intended for casual roommates who live together to share expenses. The status would be intended for long-term couples (either opposite or same-sex) who live together as a couple, even if not married.
These family members are able to seek admission for up to a one-year period. They may also seek extensions in six-month increments up to the duration of the principal nonimmigrant’s status.
The Department of State has indicated that the B-2 provisions for a cohabitating partner apply to both same sex and opposite sex partners. The government also acknowledges that long-term stays can still be considered temporary in nature. It is worth noting that B-2 status does not allow the family member to work while in the United States.
If you are a cohabitating partner or family member of a principal nonimmigrant who is ineligible for derivative status, contact Berardi Immigration Law for a consultation.