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I moved to the US with a O-1 visa. I have a relationship with my partner, we live together but we are not married. She moved to the US with me under a B2 visa, since we read it is common that unmarried couples use the B2 visa for these purposes if they are cohabitating partners. We plan to be in the US up to three years.

After the interview in the consulate, she got a multiple entry visa that is valid for 10 years. However, the consulate officer told us she won't be able to live in the US. In fact, after landing in the US, the border officer put a stamp on her passport valid for 6 months (we passed the border together). We will visit our home country (and come back to the US) before those 6 months.

My questions are:

  • Can I safely suppose the border officer will renew her stamp for at least 6 months more after coming back from our home country?
  • Is it possible to get a stamp for 1 year?
  • Otherwise, is it possible that a border officer denies her entry after entering the US several times with the same B2 visa?
  • Could you clarify whether, when she got the 6 month stamp, you were with her or she was by herself? – Dennis Sep 27 '17 at 16:49
  • She was with me. We passed the border at the same time. – ChronoTrigger Sep 27 '17 at 17:21
  • I think you are referring to the "cohabitating partners" from 9 FAM 402.2-4(B)(5). That section does say that she should ask for a 1-year stay on B2 when she applies for admission. Did she ask for that? – user102008 Sep 27 '17 at 20:36
  • She didn't. The officer asked us how long we were going to stay in the US after that entry. We answered 4 months because that's when we will visit our home country. – ChronoTrigger Sep 27 '17 at 20:48
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It has been a very long time since I was in that situation, and my situation wasn't exactly the same (I was married but I was working in a status that provided no derivative status for a spouse), but I can give you my understanding of the issue.

US immigration law does not recognize a relationship between unmarried, but de facto, partners as a qualification for a derivative (or any) visa. The B-2 visa is sometimes suggested for de facto partners not because it is an appropriate status for a de facto partner to join the visa holder but because it is the only status available for her to enter in, appropriate or not. It is a miserable, uncertain way to stay since her continued presence in the country and the conditions of her stay depend on the discretion of every officer she sees, the officer's willingness to recognize the validity of the relationship within the constraints of the law they enforce, and whatever policies-de-jour they are operating under. Note that your experience at the consulate, with them granting a visa (I imagine) you applied for with the expressed purpose of her living with you while simultaneously telling you it wasn't (legally) suitable for that purpose, is probably a typical example of the ambiguity and uncertainty you'll always be dealing with.

For the questions, there is no guarantee that they'll let her reenter but, since there is no formal link between her status in the US and your's, you'll maximize the probability of success if you always accompany her so that the situation is clear to the officer whose discretion you are relying on. Stays of up to a year are possible but I really don't know if you should explicitly ask for that or just try to suggest you'd like her to stay as long as she can (from the comment above it seems like you should); if you want to stay in the US longer than they give her you can always apply for an extension of stay while remaining in the US. And, yes, they can refuse her entry, on the current visa or a new one; there is no guarantee. They will be relying on your status, the fact that you are a non-immigrant and will eventually be leaving for home (with her) after a longer stay, to conclude that her own long stay does not imply immigrant intent and is hence permissible, but you are at the mercy of the discretion of each officer you deal with.

Whatever you do she should be scrupulous about maintaining her status and conditions of stay. The first sign that she is anything but compliant will likely end their tolerance.

It used to be that stays on this basis were routinely granted (and my wife got 1 year stays, though that was long ago in somewhat different circumstances), and the fact that she got the visa is a hopeful sign, but it was never without uncertainty and I have no knowledge of how they treat this currently. There is no legal basis that would allow her to expect to be admitted, you can only hope they do. If you want greater comfort you could try speaking to a lawyer who has recent experience with this.

  • @ChronoTrigger With reference to the next to last paragraph, the two of you will also be liable to be questioned about your ability to support her without her working or engaging in other activities that are not allowed in B-2 status. Also, in case you are not aware, you should know that if you marry, she will be eligible to apply for a derivative O-3 visa, which will be a more secure status. It also doesn't allow work, but it does allow study. As it is, if she wants to study, she'll have to apply for a student visa. – phoog Sep 27 '17 at 21:58

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