Skip to main content

Intent Matters – The issue of Dual-Intent and the Nonimmigrant Visa

All employment-based visas are considered nonimmigrant visas. This means that foreign workers in one of these categories enter the U.S. for a temporary period of time and their activity is restricted based on the provisions of their respective nonimmigrant visas. Nonimmigrants must generally represent that they will only stay in the U.S. for a temporary period.
Dual intent is an immigration law concept. It generally refers to the fact that certain U.S. visas allow foreigners to be temporarily present in the U.S. with lawful status and immigrant intent. This allows those visa holders, particularly H-1B professionals, ‘to enter’ the U.S. while simultaneously seeking lawful permanent resident status (green card status) if they so desire.
Under the Dual Intent Doctrine, some nonimmigrants are allowed to enter and/or remain in the U.S. temporarily with a nonimmigrant visa even though they have expressed a long term intent to remain permanently. Presently, only E, H-1 and L category visa holders are allowed to remain nonimmigrants while simultaneously pursuing permanent resident status. Other nonimmigrant visa holders may be denied extensions or re-issuance of a nonimmigrant visa if they appear to have a dual intent of coming to the U.S. temporarily while pursuing permanent resident status. Most visas do not allow dual intent. Those who have concerns should contact an experienced immigration attorney.
Page Summary: While some nonimmigrant visas allow the visa holder to pursue permanent resident status at the same time as holding the nonimmigration status, others do not.