Many nonimmigrant visas such as an E-2 visa, an L-1 visa and H-1B visa allow spouses and children under 21 to accompany the primary applicant to the U.S. These dependent visas allow families to live together in the United States while the principal visa holder is working. Generally, children are permitted to attend school and under some visa categories spouses can get work authorization. However, some nonimmigrant visa holders have household members that fall outside the definition of spouse or child. People in this situation may be faced with the difficulty of coming to work in the United States while leaving behind a person who is an important part of the family, but does not qualify for a dependent visa. For example, many people take care of their elderly parents and would be unable to leave an elderly parent behind while working in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa. Similarly, there are many life-long couples who are not legally married and therefore ineligible for derivative status.
Thankfully, an exception exists that enables individuals in these types of close relationships with nonimmigrant visa holders to accompany them to the United States and remain with them during their period of their stay. The Department of State and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have a consistent policy that allows cohabiting partners, extended family members, and other household members ineligible for derivative status to potentially obtain up to a one-year initial entry into the United States and subsequent multiple extensions of status within the United States with a B-2 visa. The primary purpose of the household member’s trip would be to accompany the principal nonimmigrant, who can be in any nonimmigrant status other than A or G.
As some nonimmigrants come to the United States for work commitments of two years or more, this exception can keep close family together in the U.S. for much longer periods of time. While in the U.S. on this extended B-2 status, the visa holder is considered to be a tourist, traveling for pleasure, and the visa holder must intend to depart the U.S. when the principal visa holder’s work is done. Furthermore, the household member cannot violate the terms of a tourist visa which include not working in the United States.
This exception can diminish some of the familial conflicts that entrepreneurs face when deciding whether to start up a business in the United States. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to set up a consultation with Scott Legal P.C.
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