B-2 VISITOR VISA RENEWAL / EXTENSION FOR COHABITATING PARTNERS AND OTHER HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS
As a background, elderly parents, cohabitating nonimmigrant partners, and other household members of principal nonimmigrants, such as those on an H-1B visa, may not be eligible for derivative status on their partner or child's. There are also circumstances when it may be inconvenient or impossible for spouses or children of principal nonimmigrant aliens to apply for the proper derivative status.
[A “household member” of a principal nonimmigrant is an alien who regularly resides in the same dwelling as the principal nonimmigrant and with whom the principal nonimmigrant maintains the type of relationship and care as one normally would expect between nuclear family members.]
These aliens may now seek B-2 visas, or change their status to B-2, to allow them to reside with the principal nonimmigrant visa holder who is in the United States in another status (H-1B, F-1, etc.). In August 2011, USCIS came out with a policy memoranda on extension of B-2 nonimmigrant visas for cohabitating partners and other household members of nonimmigrant visa holders. U.S. immigration laws now allow consular officers to notate the B-2 visa with the principal nonimmigrant’s visa type and duration, and to advise the B-2 visa holder to seek admission for one year at the point of entry if the B-2 visa holder plans to stay in the United States more than 6 months. Applicants may also seek extensions in six month increments from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the duration of the principal alien’s nonimmigrant status. See 8 CFR 214.2.
EVALUATION OF A B-2 EXTENSION
When evaluating an application for change to or extension of B-2 status based on cohabitation, the cohabitating partner’s relationship to the nonimmigrant principal alien in another status will be considered a favorable factor in allowing the household member to obtain or remain eligible for B-2 classification. When considering a change of status and/or multiple extensions for the cohabitating partner or other household member, the finite nature of the stay, rather than the duration of the stay or number of extensions sought, is controlling with respect to nonimmigrant intent. For example, the visit should be considered temporary even if the status may be extended several times over several years in order to match an extended course of study undertaken by the principal alien. However, while the extension application must be adjudicated on its own merits, a finding that the principal nonimmigrant lacks nonimmigrant intent is a negative factor in the exercise of discretion.